by Aurelio Gambadoro
Parallelo 41 Produzioni
The lava stone is the raw material worked by the illiterate sculptor Antonio Barrica who will make a sculpture to donate to the community of the Municipality of Zafferana Etnea. The lava rock is as rugged as the characters living in a courtyard in the Civita district of Catania whose faces look a bit like the naive faces of Barrica and whose history is a complex intertwining of family events between old never-formalized loves, constraints, resignation , anger and precarious everyday life. To make a connection between one story and another is Etna, every day, in its silent phase the mountain is the constant background of its inhabitants’ lives.
"Pietre nere" idea started from an initial question: How much and how does the volcano Etna affect the people who live there? A millennial history , three thousand meters that every day communicates with the locals: in its paroxysmal phase and in the effusive one, snowy in the cold seasons and green during the flowering period, both in moments of understanding and others of unawareness. Those who live under a volcano are not always aware of what happens at three thousand meters above their head, because they feel Etna as a normal and constant presence. But how does a child growing up in our places internalize the idea of being under a volcano? And how does the volcano feel, an adult who has always lived in these places? In trying to give answers to these questions we tried to see the volcano as an inner concept of its inhabitants.
Rather than explaining directly and asking experts and locals about this, we tell a few sections of life of people living under the volcano, without pretension of exhaustiveness, and, as cinema wants, through a careful construction of emotions. The choice of these stories was partly casual, but its development came with loneliness, disappointments, joys and sorrows; in other words, emotions that describe this place to the stranger who does not live it and who has perhaps only visited its summit. Since we started to shoot the characters this was always the idea that guided us: an inner presence of the volcano, which we tried to carry out through a contrast between the images of the black and rocky landscape and the construction of situations and interviews that tell the two stories of the documentary. On the one hand, we have the story of Barrica which represents the difficulty of the artist to create a work of art and the battle against the distrust of those who live close to the sculptor every day and for this he can not go beyond what he already knows and reassures him. The whole event takes place in the town of Zafferana Etnea, one of the last urban settlements south-east of the volcano and will mark the rhythm of the documentary, whose realization will move hand in hand with the various vicissitudes and phases that will lead to the creation of a giant sculpture to be shown in a place representative of the last eruption that threatened the country. The other story takes place on the border between the sea and the volcano to symbolically mark a strip of land where several environmental factors are concentrated. The violent fury of the stormy sea, the threatening fire of the volcano, the instability of a high earth seismic risk. In this border area, women are insecure in their lifestyle, in a twisted and anarchic plot of frustrations, pains, moments of joy and delirium. A place in strong colors, full of contrasts where the models imposed from above evil adapt to the primitive and secular character of its inhabitants.
The common factor that binds all the characters in the film is precisely this contrast between imposed rules and primitiveness in a place where people wanted to see people as the black stone of the volcano, difficult to polish and to model and, on the other hand, where it is tried to love and shape the documentary to tell stories.