A first presentation of the documentary ‘L’ispirazione poetica di Grazia Deledda e il Monte Ortobene’ in Hong Kong
On Friday 4th of November 2016 I took part, together with a group of Italian friends and ladies from the Italian Women’s Association, to the Hong Kong first launch of the documentary ‘L’ispirazione poetica di Grazia Deledda e il Monte Ortobene’ (which I would translate as ‘Grazia Deledda’s Poetic Inspiration and Mount Ortobene’), directed by Ciriaco Offeddu.
Following the full-house of the premiere in Nuoro, with more than 300 people participating in the screening, the documentary – at the moment available in Italian language only – will soon target a wider audience and, after translation, will be presented at a number of short-film festivals worldwide and foreign institutions, among which UC Davis, University of California, in Davis.
An official screening will follow in Hong Kong too. This will complement the several events that Beyond-Thirty-nine has organized in 2014 and 2015 to introduce Grazia Deledda (the only Italian woman to win the Nobel prize in literature) and her work to the Hong Kong and Macau public. This documentary will be the grand finale dedicated to the writer and will coronate the successful outcome of the previous initiatives.
The film opens with a short excursus of Sardinia’s history, an island ‘in-between’ lands, and not only geographically. Its Greek name ‘Ichnusa’ traces back to a fascinating old tale. After creating the world, and when it was time to give Sardinia its shape, God only had a few stones left. Left without choice, he put all the stones together and pressed them down with its foot. Ichnusa, which means footprint, took shape. In order to create life among those barren rocks, God took what Ichnusa was missing from other areas of the world. A fantastic nature proliferated and finally God – with his blow – generated animals and men.
Mount Ortobene is located in Barbagia – the mountain area of central Sardinia – close to Nuoro, Grazia Deledda’s birthplace. Nuoro is a city that, despite the 95% of illiteracy rate as recorded by the end of ‘800, was able to produce artists and writers of amazing stature: besides Grazia Deledda, it is worth mentioning writers Sebastiano Satta and Salvatore Satta, sculptor Francesco Ciusa, and painter Antonio Ballero. Since her young age, the mountain has been a great inspiration for Grazia Deledda, thanks to its vicinity to Nuoro and its being far away from it: a place where the writer could observe, breath in and absorb the strength of Nature in all its forms.
The young Grazia Deledda, interpreted by the charming Valentina Tota, guides us through her town, her home and her mountain, which are the nourishment of her poetry. Besides beautiful shots of this area, the peculiarity of this documentary is the presentation of Sardinia through Deledda’s eyes and through the words taken from many of her novels and literary works. Therefore, we can fully immerse ourselves in her poetic world, and appreciate her writing skills, which tell the tale of the life, people and nature of Sardinia in a peculiar and unique way. This characteristic of the movie will give great guidance in particular to the foreign audience that is not very familiar with Deledda’ s writing.
The commingling of real and magic events takes place in the thick of the mountain forest, where the trees create a canopy that covers the blue sky. Mount Ortobene is seen by Deledda as a Nuragic town inhabited by spirits. This magic let the sweetness, the purity, but also the harshness and sorrow that inhabit man’s life emerge. The beauty of the trees, their colours and the scent of the woods are expressed by the writer in words that have the same magical strength of the places that she constantly visits.
Grazia Deledda’s determination to become a well-recognised writer transpires very clearly in her many letters. In them, she talks about the good reception that her novels received, and about the many translations of her works. Her task is to describe her land, her people and their painful past, a mission that will allow the readers from all over the world to get to know the island in its entirety. In talking about her characters, she says that they have been inspired mainly by elderly and resentful people, and gossipers. At this point in the documentary, we see a series of Sardinians dressed in their typical outfit, and chosen to impersonate the most famous characters of her novels.
Towards the end of her life, Deledda suffered a painful illness. In her last scripts, she expressed the wish to build a fireplace, where the flame of her young age would burn again and around which she would sit to warm up, together with her most intimate friends. Thinking of the sunset, of the sky and of what now looks like the indefinite outline of her island, her last words are ‘Addio, addio Sardegna’.
As Ciriaco writes in a touching passage at the end of the documentary, it is not in her burial place inside the ‘Chiesa della Solitudine’ that we should look for Deledda. Her greatness cannot be confined there. For sure, she went for a walk and followed the path in the woods up to the peak of Mount Ortobene, where the statue of Redentore, Jesus the Redeemer, stands. We have to look for her on the mountain, because it is where she would feel at home.
By the end of the documentary, the audience was deeply moved. We were impressed, in particular, by Deledda’s written words – which accompanied us throughout the docu-film – by the beautiful aerial views taken from Mount Ortobene, by the richness of Sardinian nature and by the people who interpreted Deledda’s universe. We also appreciated Ciriaco’s written commentary and the music, which was fitting the script.
We hope that through this film more people will become enthusiastic admirer of this writer, and that – while discovering her roots – they will step on the same footprint left by Sardinia on the map, appreciating the islands in all its richness and variety of history, culture, nature and folklore.