HOW WAS LA GUARIMBA BORN?
Giulio Vita was born in Italy and grew up in Venezuela. He studied Journalism in Caracas and, after being kidnapped and tortured by the police for protesting against the government, he decided to return to Italy. He went on to study Cinema in Madrid. There he met Sara Fratini, a Venezuelan illustrator who was studying Fine Arts at the time. After graduation, they started drinking beer in a city center bar, complaining about how superficial the world of film festivals was. And so, as if for a game, they decided to create La Guarimba.
At the end of 2012, Sara and Giulio went to live in Amantea, the small village in Calabria where Giulio’s grandparents are from. They gave themselves a year’s time. Sara started her project as an illustrator and Giulio started producing what would be the first edition of the film festival.
WHAT IS LA GUARIMBA?
In the beginning, La Guarimba was born as a short film festival and an event. It was registered as a Cultural Association, then smarter people than us called it Social Innovation, and later the volunteers and directors who came to the first editions renamed it Community Experience because of our way of doing. But for us it is a life’s project, a bet won over pessimism, the global economy and the myth that tells children that there is nothing to do in the South.
WHAT IS OUR MISSION?
Our main goals is to bring cinema back to people and people back to the cinema.
Creating a Multicultural Area in which there is a political connection with the world. La Guarimba must contribute to creating an atmosphere of empathy, understanding, integration and action.
Reintroducing cinema as a social act with which we oppose to living in an increasingly individualistic world. We need to create a meeting point where we can share ideas and live a collective but also a personal experience.
OUR COMMITMENT IN THE TERRITORY
We’ve always used culture as a tool of integration and civil coexistence, fighting to give voice to those that don’t have the possibility to invoke their rights and defending the importance of the union of different cultures.
Our organisation actively took position to report the human rights violation in Venezuela in the last 30 years. Through our program El Guayabo – The Venezuelan Diaspora, we are committed to tell the stories of people that lived the state of political refugees.
We welcome works made in the countries where migrants coming to Europe come from, thanks to the special selections Karmala and MigrArti and the CinemAmbulante film program. This space allows us to share their stories, without filters, giving us the possibility to show the world the struggles they live and why we need to activate logics of welcome and solidarity from institutions and associations.
During the years, we’ve being exposing ourselves publicly in order to support the cause. We’ve reported the abuses on the young workers of the agriculture fields in Amantea and the many episodes of racism they experience.
On July 2020, we reported to the press the surreal story of Abbas Mian Nadeem, a young Pakistan immunocompromised that was mistaken for one of the migrants sent away from Amantea because they were positive to the Covid-19. After this, we received death threats from ‘Ndrangheta. We worked together with the authorities to allow Abbas’ return to Amantea, helping him to find legal assistance and involving Italian and European parliamentarians to investigate the case.
We’ve created a network of associations at the local level to face together racism cases in a systematic and coordinated way, using the boundless language of art and culture.
We’ve organised workshops, meetings and screenings with the refugees reception center in Amantea, working with cultural mediators to allow their integration with the community.
A SOCIAL BATTLE IN THE MOST DIFFICULT YEAR
2020 has been the hardest year for our organization.
In February, the municipality of Amantea has been wound up for fraudulent manipulation and mafia infiltrations. The government has been substituted by temporary receiverships for the next 18 months.
The unexpected health crisis left us without certainty for many months: the Region of Calabria didn’t publish any cultural grant, leaving us without an important financial source, and many companies withdrew their sponsorship proposals. We kept working without knowing if we would be able to manage to make the festival in presence.
When summer came, we engaged in a battle together with open-air free cinema organizations such as I Ragazzi del Cinema America in Rome, Scendi C’è il Cinema in Milan and FurgonCINEMA in Central Italy. Together, we reported the lobbying policy and the blackmails of distributors and cinema owners associations, Anica and Anec, which gave written instruction to Italian and foreign distributors to not release film screening rights to free film event in the Italian territory. The result was 235 denied permits out of 263 demands, despite all the films already ended their period of commercial exploitation in theatres.
The societies involved in the scandal responded roughly, calling our claims “fake news” and threatening us with legal repercussions. The Italian parliament debated with an official question on this issue. On June 24th 2020, the Antitrust opened an investigation towards Anica, Anec and Anec Lazio because of “obstacles for the concession of films to the open-air free cinemas”.
This story showed, once again, how our activity is necessary to promote a vision of cultural accessibility, free from market logics and centralisation of power.
Despite all these events, we managed to organize the 2020 edition in presence. Our last obstacles were the conditions of La Grotta Park, which remained shut down for the whole year with no maintenance. We decided to take charge of all the work that our institutions haven’t made and we collected our team, calling people from Amantea to help us. All together, we worked hard to clean and restore the park, allowing the opening to the public and giving it back to the community.