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BIOGRAFILM 2024

Crítica: Un milione di granelli di sabbia

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- El documental de Andrea Deaglio sobre el trabajo de la fundadora del trabajo expresivo con arena, un método creado para curar los traumas de la guerra, es iluminador y más actual que nunca

Crítica: Un milione di granelli di sabbia

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

“What happens when our lives are suddenly upended by violence or war? How do you process an unimaginably large trauma?”. It barely last an hour but Un milione di granelli di sabbia - the new movie by the filmmaker specialising in socially oriented creative documentaries Andrea Deaglio (Il futuro del mondo passa da qui - City Veins, Storie di uomini e lupi), presented in a world premiere at the 20th Biografilm Festival - is so extensive it stays in viewers’ minds long afterwards. The film follows the path taken by Bolzano-born psychotherapist Eva Pattis Zoja, who founded the Jungian-originated Sandwork Espressivo method to help children overcome war trauma and more.

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The war in Ukraine, the Yazidi genocide in Iraq and an earthquake in China are just some of the tragic events experienced by certain patients who are mostly at a developmental age, and for whom the methods of the “sand doctor” prove most helpful. Hers is an innovative, non-verbal therapy which helps victims to express what they’re unable to convey in words, since “trauma hinders our ability to talk”. A tank full of sand (“grains of sand are indestructible”, we’re reminded) and a series of miniatures depicting men, women, animals and a variety of commonly used objects are the tools Eva Pattis Zoja makes available to those who have suffered unthinkable sorrow, in order to try to recreate the terrible memories which crowd their minds, but also, in the second instance, to imagine and visualise a more peaceful future.

The results we see are powerful and often speak louder than personal accounts or photographs, because they’re filtered through the eyes of a child. We wonder whether dredging trauma back up to the surface really does help these little patients to manage their fears and rebuild themselves. In this sense, the film is also a deep reflection on the nature of psychological trauma and its tendency to pass itself down to successive generations. “Trauma is passed down through the generations. If it isn’t expressed, it becomes contagious”, the doctor insists, dusting off photos dating back to 1942 and old letters sent to the front and returned to sender, while reconstructing the pain her own mother experienced during the Second World War: she lost her first love during the war, a void later felt by her own children, despite the fact they hadn’t been born at the time.

Deaglio’s film barely lasts an hour but it’s jam-packed with archive material and moving testimonies, it leaps from one country to another, meeting people, and it explains that everything is essential and nothing is too much. “In addition to the survival of democracy, we should worry about the survival of our inner world”, Eva Pattis Zoja stresses during one of her public talks. And this film documenting her work is a convincing, illuminating and more relevant movie than ever.

Un milione di granelli di sabbia is produced by Piedmont firm Malfé Film with the support of the Film Commission Torino Piemonte - Piemonte Doc Film Fund.

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(Traducción del italiano)

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