The interviews of Cinema e Ambiente continue to investigate the point of view of filmmakers who decide to talk about environmental issues.
In these days we had the pleasure of digitally catching up with a member of the Boschilla collective, Andrea Chiloiro.
We met Boschilla in 2019 with Entroterra, Best Feature Film at Cinema e Ambiente Avezzano 2019.
Hi Andrea! Entroterra is a documentary about the depopulation of places in the Apennines, and all that comes with it, but with the pandemic we are seeing a beginning of repopulation of Italian villages. In your opinion, is repopulation a temporary phenomenon, or are we just witnessing the beginning of something that is destined to last?
Yes, with the lockdown we have witnessed an escape from the city in favor of smaller, rural realities by young workers who are able to carry on their jobs remotely. It must be said that this process, this generational shift involving young people who are tired of an urban reality and of a certain economic and working model, began some time ago, young people are rediscovering the desire for a simpler life. And from a qualitative point of view, this is an extremely important process, but unfortunately it is not enough to fill the large demographic and sociological gap that continues to exist in the highlands.
When a young person wants to move to these realities, without wanting to embrace a rural lifestyle, is there a way to combine the limitations of these lands with the needs of today’s remote workers?
I would say that this is exactly the central question, it captures all the contradictions and ambiguities of these processes. It is exactly the bet for the future of these internal areas. We can and must certainly reap a lot from the heritage that these places have left us, but in a certain way we must try to update certain modalities and processes within these areas. This in no way means that the Apennines must become a suburb of the city, but we think that a modernization is necessary in order to meet the needs of young people. Surely we must first deal with those essential services that are lacking in these areas, such as health facilities, means and services, which are then the reasons that have led and are leading to the depopulation of these areas. Certainly, nowadays, it is just as important to have an Internet connection that allows those who, for example, decide to open a farm to work and do not want to limit themselves to local trade but expand their horizons. This is certainly the bet for the future of the villages we are talking about.
In the documentary there is one scene in particular that sums up the speculation that results from the abandonment of those places: the high-speed train that crosses a mountain. What is the thin line that divides progress from speculation?
Well, there’s really a total change of perspective here from what was the twentieth-century point of view. Progress now passes through these places and not through the city, as before. In these places, which represent the margin, there is a great change of perspective that brings these lands to the center of what can be the urban model of life, the capitalist model of life, which is the only one we know. The city is in crisis and can not find escape routes to save those who live there, then these territories become essential to experience a sustainable life and at the same time productive. Unfortunately I don’t have definitive and certain answers, but I bet on the possibility that these territories become political and social laboratories to imagine the future, to imagine this balance that probably in a city context, a completely saturated context, doesn’t offer any further field to think about innovation and experimentation. The city could, and should, take inspiration from these situations to draw new ideas for the future.
In the documentary is also addressed the repopulation of those places through the integrated hospitality or the houses sold at 1 euro. Do you think that these are valid long-term initiatives or are they just straw fires?
There is a sentence by Professor Pellegrino, more or less towards the end, she tells us that migrants can certainly be a resource for these countries, but we need to see if these countries can be functional to that life project they made at the moment they decided to come here. This is a very central question. We have seen, especially recently, that this romantic rhetoric of life in the Apennines has taken hold, which we in Boschilla find reactionary because it has nothing to do with the materiality of these places, not because it is difficult, but because they are very complex places. However, I think that some of these projects are absolutely straw fires. I don’t think you can rebuild communities, even in a small village, with houses sold for 1 euro. We need a much more complex economic, political and social planning. From this point of view there are projects that try to support and finance the regeneration of these areas. What I appreciate so much of this period is the explosion of this real tension of research and knowledge, an academic research aimed at understanding how to regenerate these territories. As places with extremely complex historical, political and naturalistic backgrounds, they need the attention of researchers and scholars who need to design life in these lands.
What expectations do you have for the future of the interior mountains? Do you think we are moving in a direction that could lead to a concrete improvement of the situations you describe?
Hard question. We at Boschilla are working on a project, a school of political ecology in the mountains. There are seminars in this mountain village where we recreate what are typical cultural offerings in urban contexts. We have had internationally renowned academics come to confront each other and to expose to the local communities these research works that I was telling you about. The cool thing we observed is that the kids who participated all wanted to design their future work in an Apennine context. Through this school, we are trying to offer the local community cultural and training experiences that otherwise would not be available in these contexts. Another initiative is to create “research-action” groups, groups formed by young people who create a network among themselves and who, through the support of researchers and administrations, are helped to plan their lives in the Apennines. The real projects that should be there are many, but they are not so simple and can also seem utopian. However, this is the experience that we are carrying out with Boschilla in the Apennines of Bologna. Bringing and bringing culture, education and knowledge in these territories that are often extremely lacking in this, I think it can be a virtuous step towards the future.
We at Cinema and Environment Avezzano wish the boys of Boschilla good luck, hoping that our paths will cross again.