Father Nicosia, The Angel of the Lepers: our journey between Hong Kong and Macau.
The making of this film resulted, in many ways, in a remarkable experience. B39 started the process in Hong Kong, talked to Father Nicosia and collected his tales of an incredible life while sharing his enthusiasm and passion. We moved then to Macau to film the village of Ka Ho and to talk to one of the ex-lepers. We launched a successful crowdfunding campaign and we completed the final product thanks to Fabrizio Bestoso, who transformed ideas, interviews and video shootings into a movie. And just recently, we went back to Macau, for a short trip that opened up future possibilities.
We witnessed a full house during the HK premiere, held on 11th of November 2015 at the Visual Arts Centre. A hundred people attended the screening, many of them standing or sitting on the steps. Nobody wanted to miss the chance to witness the outcome of this two-year project. It was a successful undertaking that saw many people passionately involved in it and that has been, for B39, an incredible achievement. The presence of Father Nicosia at the screening, accompanied by Cardinal Zen, who gave a moving speech, added a special atmosphere to the evening.
This high attendance at the event allowed us to collect HKD 8,800 from the sale of the tickets. These funds have already been donated by ‘The Italian Women’s Association’ to the ‘Little Sisters of the Poor – Home for the Aged’, located in Aberdeen, where Fr. Nicosia has lived from 2011 until recently.
This documentary experience has given us the chance to get in touch with amazing people too, who – like us – believe in the power of culture.
On 10th of November, Ciriaco and I went to Macau for an interview about the documentary. Since July 2015, we had been in touch with Filipa Queiroz. She is an energetic Portuguese woman, who works for TDM (Teledifusão de Macau). Filipa got to know about the making of the documentary through our crowdfunding campaign, and was interested in having more news regarding our project. A few years before, she had been working on a documentary about the leper colony of Ka Ho. In it, she tells the story of ten elderly ex-patients, who reminisce about their past life and their daily struggle to recover from leprosy. At the time of the filming, they lived in a building that was still part of the village, utilized as a home of the elderly, and that has been now demolished. The title of the documentary is ‘Once Upon a Time in Ka Ho’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJpLc5ad6mk
Filipa hosts a weekly cultural program on TDM called ‘Montra do Lilau’, where she introduces cultural events happening in the ex-Portuguese colony, or related to it. We were immediately struck by Filipa’s energy and brilliant ideas, also regarding the running of the interview and the setting of it: Ka Ho village. The place is now under complete redevelopment. Apparently, the Government has a plan to renovate the old houses, but I guess it would not happen that soon, as only one of them has been restructured so far. The focus is now on building a new retirement home, and the whole area adjacent to the village has been blocked off.
With Filipa, we discussed about Father Nicosia and his work, about our documentary project and what it meant for us, about our plans for the distribution of the movie in Macau as well as in other parts of the world. She was eager to get to know more about B39, our purpose as a cultural platform and our projects. For this interview, Filipa also filmed the other schools and institutes located in the same area, founded by Nicosia.
It was a sunny day, with dragonflies and butterflies swarming around the flowers and greenery, which is now growing wild and untamed. This place exudes sadness and sorrow, according to Ciriaco. My vision is also one of hope though, as I like to think about how Father Nicosia changed this lepers’ colony, over the years, from a desperate and hopeless shelter into a self-sufficient reality of optimism. Many lepers recovered and were able to restart a life thanks to the transformation of this forgotten corner of Macau.
The interview has been aired on Filipa’s program on 11/11 http://portugues.tdm.com.mo/ppgm.php?pid=3&vid=1692 and it was also broadcasted during the English news of the same day, at 28’15. http://portugues.tdm.com.mo/evideo.php?vid=7727
Talking to interesting people can only result in learning something new. And in fact, over a good Italian meal, Filipa introduced us to her friend, Marco Canarelli, founder of the ‘Macau-Italia Association’. Marco works as an architect. His interest to act as a reference point for the Italian community and to sponsor cultural events or happenings that he shares on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Macao-Italia-Association-629899917045179/) comes solely from his belief in getting different people and cultures together. Some friends help him on a voluntary basis and the rest is just word of mouth and hard work.
Marco is keen about the possibility of organizing future events in collaboration with B39. He is already spreading the word about our documentary screening in Macau, which will take place on 3rd of December 2015 at 6:30 pm at the Cinematheque Passion, 13 Travessa da Paixão.
On this occasion, we hope to see many of you, who did not have the chance to make it for the premiere in Hong Kong.
This short trip to Macau was part of a special journey, which started with the development of an idea about a great man and continued with the realization of the documentary, crowned with a successful screening and with plans to make this product known in other parts of the world. We were therefore glad to be able to open the door that led us to new opportunities and introduced us passionate people who believe, like us, in going above and beyond.