In Viola Castello, Upper Mongia Valley, only the voices of the elderly “chestnut women” remain. Their memory recalls a past where life revolved around chestnut trees and ancestral dryers that marked, for almost a thousand years, a precise relationship of balance between human beings and the environment. This is a legacy that in the Ligurian Alps still survives, while in the rest of Italy, from the Alps to the Apennines, it seems to have almost completely disappeared. It is in this context that Ettore, a part-time highway toll collector and chestnut farmer by passion, acts.
The director: “The genesis of the documentary parallels my personal journey as an author, and the first materials collected coincided with the start of my career as a documentary filmmaker. For quite some time the expressive potential offered by Ettore’s relationship with the forest remained unexplored, until I discovered the existence of the “castagnere,” a curiously unknown phenomenon, especially compared to similar ones that took place in the plains (first and foremost, the mondine).
A narrative potential, that of chestnut-related culture, which extended from the north along the entire Apennine ridge, yet to be explored. In this present of semi-permanent economic crisis with an accompanying shortage of not only job opportunities especially for young people, the choices of Ettore and the other curious inhabitants of the chestnut grove, combined with the stories of the elderly “chestnut women,” weave a positive narrative of reappropriation and revitalization of tradition, a metaphor for man’s faith in the future and in the viability of a truly sustainable economy.”
The film was awarded at the 71st Trento Film Festival and received a special mention at Visions from the World.
Sandro Bozzolo studied Communication and Urban Documentary in Italy, Lithuania and Colombia. He has made short films and documentaries, including Ilmurran – Maasai in the Alps (self-produced), Nijole (2018, ITA/LTU/COL) and We’ve been here for twenty years (77th Venice Film Festival). He is the author of Un sindaco fuori dal comune – Storia di Antanas Mockus, supercitizen of Bogotá (EMI 2012), and A raccontar la luce (L’Erudita 2017). In 2015 he carried out the multi-media journalism research project ‘Agritools’ (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Journalism Center in Sub-Saharan Africa). Since 2021 he has been a Visiting Professor at the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts (LTU).