the pressbook


the pressbook
A film by
Emiliano Mancuso
Photography and sound
Emiliano Mancuso
Andrea Tarquini
Supervision editor
Aline Hervè
Original music
Angelo Olivieri
Sound design and mix
Edoardo Boccali
Executive producer
Raffaella Milazzo
Produced by Giulia Tornari per ZONA
in association with Andrea Tarquini for PCM STUDIO
with the support of Parsec cooperativa
with the patronage of Authority Guarantor for Childhood and Adolescence – Department of Lazio
Country: Italia
Duration 75’
Produced in 2014
Language: VO – Italian with subtitle in English of French
I came into contact with Casa Felix while editing my third collection of photographs, Stato d’Italia (2011, ed.
Postcart) including a preface by Lucia Annunziata. At first I wanted to do a photographic reportage, but things
soon changed.
The first youth that let me photograph him was Junes who was from Morocco. Junes was aggressive from
the very start. “Why the fuck should I tell you who I am… what the fuck do you want from me,” he told me.
But after returning a few times, when he wouldn’t even say hello to me, I spent some time with him and taught
him to play cards, seeing as the other boys played all the time and he was left out.
Later we watched Milan play and started talking about soccer. He laughed because one of the coaches for
Tottenham had said, “fuck Italian bastard” to Gattuso. He kept repeating it. And he’d laugh. He didn’t care
about Gattuso’s head butt in response it was all about the phrase for him.
A few minutes later, he asked me to take a photo of him. He took off his T-shirt, showed me his muscles and
let me take a shot.
This was only the beginning. For two years I took the same road every day (the Palmiro Togliatti – a thoroughfare that cuts through the east side of Rome), meeting with the youths and care workers at Casa Felix, totally
absorbed by their daily lives and their different destinies.
The need to transform the initial photographic project into a documentary was a slow process that became
a concrete reality the day Valerio arrived. In that moment, I realized that if I truly wanted to depict what I
was experiencing in the group home, I would need to use a different means of communication. To capture
the sense of solitude and insecurity that hung over Valerio’s face in the mornings, photographs would not be
enough. So I decided to shoot the entire scene with a video camera. The professional equipment I always use
for my photo reportages, a Canon EOS Mark II, is also an excellent video camera so it was easy to pass from
the ‘click’ button to shoot stills to the ‘rec’ button to shoot video. When I reviewed the footage of Valerio’s arrival, the emotions I felt erased any doubts I may have had: I had to flank a documentary to the photo project.
The trail, so to speak, had been blazed.
I made a very clear and precise choice regarding the language of communication, trying to render the movements of the video camera as similar as possible to the movements used when shooting a photo-reportage.
The intent was to capture the energy and veracity through video and stress upon the fact that the video camera represented the point of view of one of the youths in the home, not an outside source.
And at the same time it represented a personal, continuous, uninterrupted master shot of life at Casa Felix.
I challenged myself. I saw fragments of my own life in the stories of these teens. I took a journey into my own
adolescence in order to approach and understand theirs. Life at Felix is like a mirror image of you, reflecting
and deforming. My off-screen voice interacting with the boys is in contrast to the aesthetic choice, and it is
It took some time to find the right balance and to be accepted by the boys. But time, patience, the relationships and the emotional bonds that were created between me, the boys and the care workers in the group
home prevailed in the end. As the line from the Little Prince where I got the title of the documentary says:
“First you will sit down at a little distance from me, like that, in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner
of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer
to me, every day.”
by Emiliano Mancuso
“You’re probably wondering who do I think I am I to say these things, well if you really want to know,
I’ll tell you, I’m one of those guys considered to be a good-for-nothing, avoided by decent people, one of those
guys who think they can do what they want and don’t care about the world around them, well, that’s how I was
classified, labeled like merchandise gone bad, considered unable to take care of myself, reduced to having to
ask permission to go out, they took away my freedom… I’ve been living in a group home for ten months and
I have sixteen more to go and I don’t think it’ll be easy, but I hope to survive so I can get rid of my label.”
This was taken from a letter hidden under a mattress written before leaving Casa Felix, a group home
for minors with family and criminal issues located in the eastern outskirts of Rome. I’m a photojournalist
with Contrasto photo agency. When I began Casa Felix I was looking for stories about troubled kids living in
difficult circumstances for a reportage, but I became completely overwhelmed by the lives of some of these
adolescents: contradictory, emotional, difficult and above all, intense and real.
Valerio is in remanded custody, serving nine months for misdemeanors. He doesn’t seem to want much
from life except to have fun and not think about the future. He comes from a broken home: he lives with his
mother but he idolizes his father, who is currently in prison. Giuseppe, who was taken from his parents, has
been living in the group home for almost two years after having spent six years in other foster care facilities.
He has a twin sister and two younger brothers scattered in other institutions and foster homes. He’s taking a
course as a cook’s assistant and dreams about turning eighteen so he can live with his father again and put
his divided family back together. And then there’s Emad, an Egyptian boy who arrived in Sicily by boat without
knowing where he was exactly, and without a family or any relatives in Italy. He has to pay off a debt to the
human traffickers who brought him over by doing forced illegal work.
I spent a year with them. We studied together, talked, went to the beach and amusement park, we
cried and laughed together.
I expected to find an exposé or an investigative story, but what I found was an urban tale about friendship and
normal adolescents who had their basic rights denied.
Born in Rome in 1971, where he still lives. He began late in life to think of photography as a means of
expression to document history and depict life. He received his degree in Philosophy in 1997, majoring in
Aesthetics, when his interest in images was only philosophical.
After finishing university at 28 years old, he began to work as a photojournalist with leading national and
international publications including National Geographic, The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, L’Espresso,
etc. He has been represented by Contrasto ( since 2009.
2011/2012 • Stato d’Italia Exhibit:
Lumiere Film Festival, Gottingen
Lector in Fabula, Bari.
Semaine de la culture italienne, Paris.
Citerna Foto Festival Città di Castello.
Gallerie Fnac Milan.
Officine Fotografiche, Rome.
Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence.
2011 • Stato d’Italia, Postcart Ed. Collection of photographs capturing the Italian crisis in 2008-2011,
including a preface by Lucia Annunziata, curated by Renata Ferri.
2011 • Synthesis, storie di persone e trapianti. Collection of photographs capturing the lives of people who
have had transplants, for the Fondazione Alinari.
2010 • Picture of the Year, third place, Single Portrait, for the project, “Stato d’Italia”,
viaggio nell’Italia della crisi.
2010 • International Photography Awards 2010, honourable mention for Viaggio in Italia.
2010 • “Alenia Costruisce Sicurezza”. Corporate publication
on security measures at the Alenia-aereonautica plant.
2009 • Premio Marco Bastianelli, Collection of photographs, “Terre di Sud”
2008 • Terre di Sud, Postcart Ed. Collection of photographs capturing life and news stories in Southern Italy.
2008 • Terre di Sud Exhibits.
Galleria Santa Cecilia, Rome Corigliano Foto Festival, Palazzo Ducale Fotoleggendo, Rome
2008 • Honourable Mention – Photojournalism Photography Award from the Tau Visual Association of
Professional Photographers, for the reportage on deforestation in the Amazon.
2008 • PDN’s Photo Annual for the project, Amazonia.
2008 • Rosso, Aut Photo ed. Corporate publication depicting the delivery company,
Bartolini, Corriere Espresso s.p.a.
2008 • Collective Exhibition: Quotidianamente Fotografi, at the Galleria S.T. Rome.
2006 • Made in Italy Exhibit, L.A.N.A. Naples.
2006 • Made in Italy, Trolley Book ed. Collection of photographs capturing the economic crisis in Italy to
celebrate the CGIL’s (Italian General Confederation of Labour) centennial.
2005 • Premio Fnac Italia “Attenzione Talento Fotografico” for the project. Terre di Sud.
2004 • Canon Prize for Best Project of the Year for Terre di Sud.
Via Germanico, 107 - Roma
[email protected]
Valeria De Berardinis
+39 338.1425588
[email protected]