#SHORTVIEW: “The Sled”, by Emanuela Ponzano

Synopsis:

A sled brings together two boys from different countries and cultures and carries them through the winter woods of the Italian mountains, far away from their parents’ prejudices and isolation.


A REACTION TO FEAR


> Racism is the main theme in your movie. How is the situation with racism in Italy?

I wrote the story in 2010, and we had a bit of a situation then with people coming from Albania, Romania and these places at the other side of the sea – but I couldn’t have imagined that some years later it would be so actual, and as time has passed, it has become more and more so, with the huge migration problem we’re suffering right now. The European Commission has left Italy alone against that problem, so the hate against migrants has been growing, and becoming more and more prevalent. In the beginning, it was only a concern about jobs, but by now, people are concerned about housing, food, and so on.

Italians themselves have forgotten that they themselves were once migrants, going to places like America and Belgium. For me, the story of Europe is the story of migration, so I think that it’s important to remember this thing, and specially important to teach them to children, because children start from the beginning, and they have a much bigger problem to be free and hold back prejudices than adult people do, when you have other problems to think about.

> Why is your short film focused on an interaction between children?

I think it’s very important for children to be free, and explore their own thoughts, and discover nature, and let themselves figure things out for themselves. You know, “xenophobia” is in itself a reaction to fear, or, in other words, a fear towards someone that you don’t know, and that is different from you in different ways. And that makes people feel uncomfortable, because that’s something that’s ingrained in nature.

But in the film, you can see that, even though the children repeat what their parents have told them, there’s a moment in which they realize that there’s nothing wrong, that there’s nothing to worry about. And when they reach that point, they manage to be free and respect each other.

> How was your experience working with children?

I was very lucky. It’s not easy to work with children, you never know what kind of personality or attention you will find, or even if you should do a casting, but I really had the luck to find the perfect children to work with – they were completely prepared for this, and also very passionate, they studied the roles, even though for the Albanian boy, it was his first time acting. The other one was already a very serious child actor, and he wants to become an actor someday, which is incredible.

> How was the reception of the film? Was it as good as you expected?

When you do a short film, you never know if it’s going to work, if it’s going to be understood, and this kind of things – so I was very happy to see that the film was being screened all over the world, in many different cultures. When people from South America, and Europe, and Canada tell you that they’ve liked your film, it’s a really amazing feeling to have.


At the point of the interview, Emanuela was developing another short film about “the importance of memory”, set up in the Hungarian frontier after the Second World War, and the ways in which we could use our memory to “build a better future”.