Stella ciao, a game of mirrors between past and present
by Muriel Del Don
- With his feature film, Ticino-born director Vito Robbiani takes us by the hand and leads us into the recent past, which nonetheless seems incredibly far away, where euphoria gives way to the melancholy of memories
Premiered at this year’s Solothurn Film Festival, Stella ciao, by Swiss director Vito Robbiani, depicts a slice of life, a moment suspended somewhere between the beauty of a “glorious” past and the knowledge that it’s the end of an era. Stella ciao [+see also:
interview: Vito Robbiani
film profile] is a documentary that is lit up by an “ordinary” heroism, simple in the fact that it pertains to everyday life.
Silvio is fifty years old, originally from Sardinia, and has been living in Switzerland for several years. An enthusiast of karaoke and Italian music, he puts his heart and soul into managing a hotel and restaurant that has become almost legendary. The Stella d’Oro hotel, built over a hundred years ago on the Swiss shores of Lake Maggiore, is a prime destination for tourists seeking an authentic place where time seems to stand still. Despite the mythical aura of this place that is full of memories, Silvio can’t fill the rooms in his hotel anymore and so decides to fill the void by taking in a group of asylum seekers. The relationship he forges with these people, who have intense and often tragic pasts, is sincere, direct but never intrusive.
Vito Robbiani carefully manages to avoid falling into the trap of pathos by filming these slices of life modestly and elegantly. His camera meanders through the Stella d’Oro with respect, capturing precious moments in which the sadness of days gone by gives way to the practicalities of an uncertain present. The days of the hotel are in fact numbered, and its future is threatened by the loss of a clientele that has decided to go elsewhere. The landscape is changing irremediably and nature, once uninhabited and wild, is being overcome by multiple concrete structures. The Stella d’Oro will be demolished and with it, an era built on dreams and often-improbable encounters. Vito Robbiani succeeds in capturing the beauty of the Ticino landscape, precariously balanced between vibrancy and melancholy, euphoria and introspection.
(Translated from Italian)