Il fiume ha sempre ragione: Silvio Soldini, among craftsmen of words
by Vittoria Scarpa
- The director’s new documentary takes us into the workshops of two typographers that produce one-of-a-kind editorial gems. Winner of the Audience Award at Biografilm in Bologna
Have you ever seen how a handmade book is bound, step by step? Or how big sheets of paper, lead types and frames, stencils, veneer and thread dipped in wax come together to make true editorial gems? It is an ancient and dense world, built on substance and passion, that we are introduced to in Il fiume ha sempre ragione, the new documentary by Silvio Soldini presented at the Biografilm Festival in Bologna (10-20 June 2016), where it picked up the Audience Award. The world of Alberto Casiraghy and Josef Weiss, two artist craftsmen, the former a printer of small and precious books of poetry and aphorisms, the latter a graphic artist and restorer of books, one with a workshop in Brianza, the other based in the Ticino Canton and one of the few remaining heirs of Gutenberg and printing with moveable type.
“A few days in the lives and worlds of Alberto and Josef”, reads the caption for the film. The workshops of the two craftsmen are indeed chock full of things, items and tools, we hear the sounds, can almost smell the smells. Soldini moves from one workshop to the other discreetly, politely, reflecting the politeness of the two protagonists: their way of talking, recounting, explaining their art and demonstrating what it involves in detail, is somewhat hypnotic, calming. Theirs is another world, one built on quality and concentration, on small imperfections, and one that is extraordinarily retro, to the point that these two devoted artisans, who persist in using machines that are centuries old might initially raise a cautious smile from the viewer because – we tell ourselves – you should live in the present, embrace progress and technology. But that’s not so, you should never stop nurturing beauty, and the items we see being produced in this documentary are of exceptional beauty.
“I tiptoed in and sat down in a corner to watch them, to try and understand, to capture the poetry of their work”, explains Soldini. “A fascination with their work and the way they go about it was what drove me to make this film, but only by adjusting to their rhythm did I understand the strength of their bond with life, which makes them extraordinary characters, in their seemingly humble and profound way of life”. Fascination, poetry, humanity, the same things that shine through this documentary – a manifesto to the magic of words, thought and creativity – which flows slowly like a river and which should let ourselves be gently carried away by.
Il fiume ha sempre ragione is produced by Swiss company Ventura Film, which is also handling international sales.
(Translated from Italian)