Lockdown restrictions have inspired and challenged creatives around the world to tell new, timely stories in a variety of unique ways. Today, as travel restrictions are lifted across Italy, Great Guns director Federico Mazzarisi
and Sofia Rivolta have premiered a personal and evocative new short entitled Learning From The Wind
(or Imparare dal Vento
). Following two teenagers who get to know each other – and themselves – whilst separated in quarantine, the film was created entirely in lockdown and inspired by Federico and Sofia’s own experiences.
The film begins with voice-over reactions to the horrors Italy experienced when Coronavirus first affected the country, before we are introduced to protagonists Ali and Andre. Separated through quarantine, we follow their conversations over text as they deal with the impact of lockdown, watching their day-to-day lives in isolation as they encounter personal and emotional issues. The film ends with Andre sending Ali a video camera he found in his house so they can make a film together – echoing Federico and Sofia’s own actions.
The duo began working on the project shortly after Italy’s lockdown, forced to return to their family homes in Puglia and Lombaria respectively. After a week of isolation, Federico reached out to Sofia, suggesting they work on a project to pass the time. Initially filming themselves for a ‘quarantine diary’, they soon realised this approach was too restrictive because their role as directors, whose comfort zone is behind the camera, was not effective enough. Working on a way to fix this, the duo realised they actually had two subjects to film: Federico’s brother Andrea and Sofia’s sister Alice. After completing a camera test with their siblings, they knew they had a perfect solution.
Federico Mazzarisi comments: “At that time, Great Guns was encouraging me and my colleagues to create content during lockdown and that’s how we started this collaboration. I prepared a pitch and treatment with Sofia, sent the documents to my producers, and they gave us the green light – good to shoot!”
Federico and Sofia then worked on the script, gradually defining how to tell the story scene by scene and borrowing from their own experiences. The duo learned to observe and craft their direction from the day-to-day events that affected the country, unable to predict how things would change in the future. Due to the age of their subjects, Federico and Sofia wanted the film to have a teenage perspective, with a natural element also central to the narrative. Fortunate enough to live in rural locations, the directors used the backdrop of gardens and trees to portray a delicate but genuine depiction of the crisis through the eyes of two teenagers.
Due to restrictions, Federico and Sofia built a team that worked from a distance whilst filming on their own – choosing the right equipment, shooting without lighting, and operating with no technical support. Wanting the short to have a raw, authentic feel, they worked hard to establish a visually poetic aesthetic with a dense colour saturation. Ultimately, Learning From The Wind creates a film-within-a-film. The characters’ own movie, which starts when Federico and Sofia’s finishes, becomes both a game and a way of dealing with isolation.
Sofia Rivolta comments: “We wanted to explore the evolution of relationships and friendships during this delicate historical moment. So many adults, like us, found themselves locked in their houses, trapped in their hometowns. Like teenagers, they went back in time, finding themselves far from their usual lives, partners, and friends. This film – as it is for our characters – is an escape and a way to feel closer and connected to people and each other again.”
Federico adds: “The making of Learning From The Wind was unique and unexpected. The development of the project, however, came very naturally – we played with what we had. There are certain jobs, like ours, that rely on teamwork and this time we were by ourselves. It was complicated but we found solutions, shooting a film that we hope is beautiful and meaningful today as we are still locked in our homes – and hopefully that can lead us to a new beginning tomorrow.”