Va’ Pensiero – Walking stories is an interwoven account of two racist attacks in Milan and Florence and the victims’ painful attempts to piece the fragments of their lives back together. In central Milan, Mohamed Ba, a 50 year old senegalese griot (bard), actor and teacher and resident in Italy for 14 years, is knifed in broad daylight on May 31, 2009. In Florence, residents Mor e Cheikj, also immigrants from Senegal, are beaten on December 31, 2011 whilst working in the San Lorenzo market. This powerful account brings together the overlapping stories of the three protagonists’ ordeal and their enduring hope of building a life in Italy, despite the fear and uncertainty of suddenly being plunged back to the moment of the attacks by one look or gesture. The director Dagmawi Yimer, a refugee from Ethiopia, shows us what violence looks like through the eyes of the victim.

Director’s notes

“Géwel, in Wolof, means to draw a circle around someone. The griot is someone who has the gift of words and he is the living memory of the group, he is a poet, a storyteller. The griot’s metaphors accompany the account of the events going back to a distant past that seems to continue to persecute the victims. I was moved by the attacks which the protagonists underwent not simply for what they are but because they also reveal the vulnerability of migrants in Italy. I didn’t want to make a scoop; I wanted to show the emotions, the fears, the attempts at getting free from the past of those who, from one day to the next, find themselves victims only because of the colour of their skin. The film allows the migrant to shed his anonymity and the public to rediscover the man behind the victim.” Dagmawi Yimer.

Technical notes

56’, colour; italian with subtitles for wolof and a version with english subtitles; format: Blue Ray, DVD; Aspect ratio: 16:9; images: HDV; sound: 5:1.

Director and photographer: Dagwami Yimer

Editing: Lizi Gelber

Music: Veronica Marchi, Nicola Alesini, Madya Diebate, Alvaro Lanciai

Sound editing: Marta Billingsley

Color correction: Vincenzo Marinese

Executive Producers: Giulio Cederna, Alessandro Triulzi

Associate Producers: Lizi Gelber, Alvaro Lanciai

An Archivio Memorie Migranti Production

With the support of: Fondazione lettera27 e Open Society Foundations

Under the patronage of the Council of Ministers – Minister for Integration

With the acknowledgement of Unar

In collaboration with: Associazione dei familiari delle vittime di Piazza Dalmazia, Amici di Giana, AAMOD – Archivio Audiovisivo del movimento operaio e democratico, ARCI, Circolo Gianni Bosio, Metis Africa, Nigrizia Multimedia, Officina Cinema Sud-Est, Prendiamo la parola

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