Two needs gave rise to the idea of the film: on one hand, the necessity to find in a story, at the same time both realistic and metaphoric, a way to speak about the relationship between the individual and cultural identity, in a world that increasingly tends to create occasions for contamination and identity crises; on the other, the desire to talk about two important places in my life that are very emblematic of Italy today: the multiethnic outskirts of Rome and the Veneto, a region that underwent extremely fast economic growth, which has gone from being a land of emigration to one of immigration in a very short time.
In particular, Chioggia, a small lagoon city with a large social and territorial identity, is the perfect place to narrate this process with even more emphasis.
I still remember my encounter with a woman who could have been Shun Li. It was in a typical Veneto pub, where local fishermen had been going for generations. The memory of this woman’s face, so extraneous and foreign to these places weathered by time and worn by habit, has never left me. There was something dreamlike in her presence. Her past, her history, the inspiration for the story all came to me just looking at her. What kind of relationships could she build in a region like mine, so little accustomed to change? This question was the starting point for trying to imagine her life.
Io sono Li is also a synthesis of my work as a director of documentary cinema, in which I have been dealing with mainly two themes over the past ten years: migration to Europe (A metà, A sud di Lampedusa, Come un uomo sulla terra, Il sangue verde) and the social and geographic territory of the Veneto (Marghera Canale Nord, Pescatori a Chioggia and La mal’ombra).
My various experiences in directing documentary cinema have enabled me to appreciate not only the story of what is real, but also in what is real, helping me to understand how it is possible to discover the intimate and profoundly human dimension of reality, also of the pressing and current themes in today’s society.
In Io sono Li I wanted to respect the methods and styles of documentary cinema, by also working with unprofessional actors and always choosing locations in the real world.
At the same time, the precision and subtleness of the language of Oriental cinema and of some important examples of international independent cinema have been important traces in order to be able to narrate the atmospheres and places I chose for this film.
For six hours it rises, for six hours it falls.
The lagoon often changes face and colour.
Because the water goes in and goes out, the tide rises and falls. Every six hours.
And when the water in the lagoon changes, everything changes.
Except the silence. There is always the silence.
It stays there.
Sweet, infinite and weak.
It stops time.
It gives the mind space to think.
It holds stories and memories you did not know you knew.
And it never leaves you alone.
Like a mother.
Like the smile and the cry of a mother.
This is Shun Li, the sweet pain of a mother in the deep silence of the lagoon.
And this is why Shun Li has the strength to make the old world of a fishermen’s pub tremble. Make it fall in love. Make it afraid. Make it change.
It is impossible not to listen to the wind of Shun Li and it is sad to decide to block it or isolate it.
Unfortunately that is what our world decided to do.
But it is also what the cinema can show.