Edition 2021

The ninth edition of La Guarimba International Film Festival took place from 7 to 12 August 2021 in Amantea, with over 2500 admissions including the presence of journalists, ambassadors, festival directors, directors and guests from all over the world.

It was a challenging edition, which started with many difficulties. The Region of Calabria has not published the grant to finance cultural events for the second consecutive year, leaving us without a very important source of funding. The spread of Covid-19, which fortunately we have managed to contain during the days of the festival, forced us to follow a series of rules that limited admissions and made it difficult to work peacefully as we did in the pre-pandemic years.

Lastly, the most demanding challenge was to find a space that could accommodate us after the closure of the park “La Grotta” due to inaccessibility.

We never gave up and we continued to work, day after day, to build an edition that we like to define more punk, showing our community a proactive model of civil society and a serious alternative to the negligence and degradation that is tormenting our territory.

Despite all the obstacles and the difficulty of communicating with local institutions, the festival has been able to gather consensus and support at many different levels, and gain recognition from important institutions in Italy and around the world.

The 2021 edition of La Guarimba International Film Festival was awarded the Medal of the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella and the Representation Award of the Chamber of Deputies for the La Grotta dei Piccoli section; received the High Patronage of the European Parliament, the Patronage of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Patronage of the Province of Cosenza. The festival was possible thanks to the support of the Italian Ministry of Culture and the Embassy of the United States in Italy, in collaboration with the European Commission, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Austrian Culture Forum, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Italy, the Embassy of Switzerland for Italy, Malta and San Marino, the Embassy of the Lithuanian Republic in Italy, the Embassy of Ireland in Italy, the Embassy of Norway, the Embassy of Australia, the Embassy of Canada, Flanders State of Arts, the Polish Institute of Rome.

Among the sponsors of the private sector, GIPHY Arts, Durex, Colorificio VR, Unifrance, ZAI Urban Vinery and the local companies Amarelli, Fichi Marano and CONAD Campora S. Giovanni gave their contributions.

Among the project partners: Short Film Conference, Unicef ​​Italia, Touring Club Italiano, Scuola Holden, Lithuanian Shorts, Karmala Cultura, GLAS Animation Festival, Interfilm Berlin, Tampere Film Festival and Batroun Mediterranean Film Festival.


For the second consecutive year, we have decided to organize the conferences in May and June instead of the days of the festival, as we were used to doing. This choice proved to be very successful because it allowed us to reach a wider audience from different parts of the world and gave us the opportunity to experiment with new communication tools on social media: Zoom’s Q&A functions, Instagram Live mode and live tweeting sessions in order to spread our voice as much as possible.

It was a great satisfaction to be able to see representatives of embassies and chambers of commerce bring their institutional greetings on Instagram Live, in line with our mission of spreading education in a democratic way and to bring institutions into contact with civil society.

Our meetings, all free, dealt with various key issues of the contemporary society and the cultural world, with the aim of creating spaces where artists, cultural organizations, institutions, activists and citizens could interact freely and find meeting points for new ideas.

Here is the complete list:

Made in collaboration with the Norwegian Embassy in Italy and Nordnorsk Filmsenter.

Made in collaboration with Lithuanian Shorts, Lithuanian Cultural Institute and the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania.

Made in collaboration with the Italo-Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce.

Made in collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Italy and with the Representation of the Government of Flanders in Italy.

Made in collaboration with Scuola Holden.

Made in collaboration with GIPHY.


For the first time in eight years, La Guarimba was not hosted by the “La Grotta” Natural Park of Amantea. In fact, in January, part of the historic center collapsed, affecting the only public green space in Amantea. Despite the various promises of local politics, the safety works of the historic center were never completed and the park was declared uninhabitable.

We looked for an alternative place for a long time and we identified a horrendous space, a symbol of the social degradation that the country is experiencing: an abandoned car park, without any maintenance for several years and that became, over time, an open-air dump.

When we arrived at the parking lot, the situation was grim: piles of garbage covered the whole space, rotten food, dead animals and various debris, while weeds and reeds that had not been treated for several years had invaded the walls.

Finding the energy from our stubbornness and the desire to carry out this edition, despite the many difficulties, we began to meet on Saturdays and Sunday mornings in July to clean, with our hands, every corner of the parking lot under the burning sun of the Calabrian summer.

Some Amanteans saw us and helped us, bringing tools and expertise to prune the branches, build dry stone walls, clear the reeds and move the heaps of garbage we collected.

The great paradox we experienced was working for two months to clean up a space located just a few meters from the historic Arena Sicoli, the open-air cinema that in 2013 hosted our first edition, and that has been closed and abandoned ever since.

We paid a bulldozer out of our own pocket to finish the cleaning work, because the commission that acts for the municipal administration that was dissolved for the mafia did not intervene as promised during the meetings we organized in the previous months.

We found ourselves forced to move an entire community to make up for the absence of the institutions, which had already ignored the problem by not carrying out routine maintenance and garbage collection for several years.

We showed a model of a possible and alternative society, capable of taking back public spaces and joining forces to work and grow together.


It was not enough for us to bring the car park back to its normal conditions. We wanted to go further and make it better: an immense open-air work of art, available to everyone, which can become an example for restoring beauty to abandoned spaces.

We invited two artists to create their works here in Amantea: Sara Fratini, co-founder of La Guarimba and internationally renowned illustrator and Cesáh, stage name of Paulo Albuquerque, a Brazilian muralist based in Portugal. Two very different styles, but which managed to revive the setting that hosted the festival, thanks also to the support of Colorificio VR, a company from Piedmont that provided us with the paint and all the necessary materials.

The mural El Jardin by Sara Fratini, created with the assistance of the Italian-Sri Lankan illustrator Valeria Weerasinghe and Rosa González, the festival’s Spanish production assistant, occupied the central wall for over 47 meters, and is “a tribute to nature and to femininity, with the representation of three goddesses as a symbol of regeneration”.

Cesáh‘s work, Born To With Nova, is a synthesis of two different illustrations. This is how the author describes it: “the concept behind the work is the origin of each of us, the place where we come from and which we consider home. It is the representation of unpredictability and the need to find new ways to grow and evolve”.


Well aware of the workload we would be going ahead, we gathered for a yoga class by the sea, at sunset. Instructor Irene Pia Greco guided us in the practice to rebalance our mental energies and relax our bodies, helping us to connect with ourselves and others. A moment of collective discovery in which to be present.


For the ninth year, we have invited fifteen illustrators from around the world to make their own version of the festival poster in their own style. In this way, we have collected fifteen different versions of La Guarimba monkey, enriching our catalogue of internationally renowned illustrators. The posters were exhibited throughout the festival period in rigid panels, creating a small open-air museum.

The artists who participated are Mikel Murillo (Spain), author of the official poster, and then Paulo Albuquerque a.k.a. Cesáh (Portugal), Egle Zvirblyte (Lithuania), Flora Anna Buda (Hungary), Giovanna Lopalco (Italy), Gwladys Gambie a.k.a. Black Meisha (Martinique), Meltem Şahin (Turkey), Natasha Dinjar (Australia), Sawako Kabuki (Japan), Śhąüņ Bůķhüţh (Mauritius), Zoran Popac (Serbia), Boyoung Kim (South Korea), Keya Tama (South Africa), Harriet Lenneman (USA) and Mela Pabon (Puerto Rico).


As every year, we kicked off the festival’s activities with a collective beach cleanup, as part of our Cambur sustainability project. Our team met in the morning to collect the waste that has accumulated over time on the coast. We sifted through a very large area between the shores of Amantea, collecting several kilos of garbage, including many plastic bottles, as well as straws and cigarette butts abandoned in the sand.

In the evening we moved to Lido Azzurro, where we hosted the presentation of the book A Sud del Sud with the presence of the Calabrian author Giuseppe Smorto. His story is a journey that talks about the rebellious commitment of a generation that does not want to be labeled by stereotypes, but wants to fight to highlight the beauty and cultural richness of the area, including La Guarimba among the examples.

Following the presentation, we previewed the special section El Guayabo – The Venezuelan Diaspora, which includes three documentaries on the refugee crisis in Venezuela, to underline the strong connection that binds the Caribbean country with Amantea, like many villages in Calabria, from which many people left in search of fortune and then fled following the Chavez regime and the crisis under the Maduro government.


The day began with the kids workshop La Fabbrica del Cinema, led by Gabriele Tangerini and Valeria Weerasinghe as a space for learning the language ​​of illustration and animation and to help develop the critical thinking and imagination of children. The first day of the workshops was aimed at learning the basics of character design, with the creation, by the participants, of a monkey shaped paper puppet.

As per tradition the Orchestra dei Fiati Mediterranea Città di Amantea opened the first evening of projections of the official competition with a concert dedicated to the composer John Williams, author of music from legendary films. While the orchestra performed, scenes from the films were projected onto the screen.

After the presentation by the festival director Giulio Vita, who talked about the enormous work that the whole team has done to make the car park a liveable public space, the opening film Yan, directed by Belgian director Jacinta Agten right in Amantea, was screened. The production involved a young Amantean, Yan Moura, who now identifies as a woman, telling her difficult story of integration in a context of a small town in southern Italy.

The official competition was opened with the screenings of films in the categories of Fiction, Animation, Documentary and Videoclip, while at the same time the screen of La Grotta dei Piccoli showed the best of animation for children to dozens of children.

The short Accamòra was screened, shot in the Reggio Calabria area and directed by a Calabrian director, with local actors. The ironic comedy David, directed by Zachary Woods with the lead role covered by Will Ferrell, was much appreciated. Dutch director Lara Aerts, guest of this edition, presented her documentary on the gender identity Girlsboysmix, linking to the opening film in a speech that is causing much discussion in Italy.

After the screenings, we moved to the Lido Azzurro in Amantea, where we presented the new edition of Insomnia, the section of experimental films dedicated to the bravest public. The films were preceded by a DJ set consisting of a mix of songs by Franco Battiato and Raffaella Carrà, accompanied by a video specially made to accompany the mystical sounds of the two artists who passed away this year.


The second day of the workshops for children was aimed at learning the rudiments of storytelling and practicing narrative thinking. We made short videos in which the children animated the characters they created, making them interact with each other.

The screenings showed audiences a mix of different styles and genres, with short films from Morocco, France, Switzerland, South Korea and Spain.

The music video Demasiadas Mujeres by Santos Bacana is very acclaimed, with the music of C. Tangana, a young Spanish rapper, who went platinum in 2018, who is increasingly establishing himself in the scene thanks to his videos with a strong visual impact. Also worth mentioning is the German-produced documentary Just A Guy, directed by Japanese director Shoko Hara, which tells the story of an exchange of erotic letters between a girl and a famous serial killer.

During the evening the Superloop Giphy selection was screened, consisting of short animated videos in GIF format, with which artists and animators tried their hand at the tools provided by the GIPHY Artist platform to give vent to their creativity. The partnership between La Guarimba and GIPHY has solidified this year, with the presence of a promotional banner dedicated to the festival on the platform’s home page.


The workshops for children came to an end with one last meeting, focused on learning the basics of background design. Participants designed the setting in which to insert their characters.

As part of the workshop the children took a trip to visit the Artists For La Guarimba exhibition, where we showed them the different ways to interpret and express an idea, comparing different styles and stimulating their interest in the world of illustration.

The screenings of the official competition continued with the third days of competing short films, which saw the presence of Linda Gaarder, culture officer of the Norwegian Embassy in Italy, who intervened to talk about the relationship between Norwegian cultural institutions and La Guarimba, which has been developing for three years now, and to present the competing short The Manila Lover, a Philippines-Norway co-production.

The drama The Delivery talked about the smuggling of migrants in the Balkan trade, reminding us how delicate and timely the issue is for all European countries.

Belgian director Mélanie Robert-Tourneur, guest of the festival, presented to the public her animated short Hold Me Tight, a set of dazzling images on the archetype of love and sexuality.

For the night screenings, we moved to Lido Azzurro, where the out-of-competition section Focus Lithuania was screened, with three short films curated together with the Lithuanian Shorts agency. The Lithuanian ambassador in Rome Laura Gabrielaitytė-Kazulėnienė and Gabriele Cegialyte, project manager for Lithuana Shorts and producer of the Vilnius International Short Film Festival, attended.

This appointment confirmed the collaborative relationship with the cultural world of an emerging country like Lithuania, characterized by a high percentage of very young women who hold executive roles in festivals and production companies, a topic already addressed during the cycle of online conferences.

The night ended with the performance of Marat Lucchesini, a young Roman singer-songwriter who this year participated as a volunteer in the festival. After a day of work in the parking lot, she decided to give us a part of his repertoire, closing an evening that saw cinema, music, illustration and street art merge together to give beauty to the public.


The fourth day of the official competition screenings saw the discovery of countries and cultures that are not always in the spotlight at international festivals, such as Peru, Slovenia, Lebanon, Finland, Egypt and Puerto Rico.

The Dromedary film addresses the themes of adolescent bullying and the difficulty of integrating children with physical deformities, adopting a very suggestive visual style.

Shadows On The Rails is a Finnish documentary about the depression and post-traumatic disorders of train drivers who face responsibility for the death of those who commit suicide under a train.

Queens tells the night journey of a group of drag queens to Geneva, showing the difficulties they encounter in their journey of sexual identification, from the comments and discrimination they suffer on the street, to the pressures that precede stage performances and internal competition.

Finally, Nuevo Rico launches a disenchanted and stereotyped look at the world of the reggaeton star system, using an experimental and very vivid animation language. The author, Kris Mercado, is an important American animator, who featured with various specials on Netflix. Producer Debora Perez, guest of the festival, intervened to present the film, who spoke about her vision on Puerto Rican culture and the reggaeton movement that is making it famous all over the world.


The final evening screenings of the official competing shorts brought together languages, cultures and traditions from countries such as Israel, Chile, Belgium, Iran, Vietnam and Canada to Amantea.

All The Time addressed the sensitive issue of depression caused by social and gender oppression that women suffer in Iran, showing an intimate story that the public can easily empathize with.

Fata Morgana tells the stories of three women of different ages, who live their lives as nomads, travelling the world and finding themselves making choices out of complete freedom but that also call for many sacrifices such as the stability of motherhood. A conflict that arises from the life standards imposed by society and the personal pursuit of women’s happiness.

The King’s Blvd video clip was screened, with the music of Nana Kwame Abrokwa, a Ghanaian rapper who emigrated to Germany, where he built his career. His first album went platinum in Poland and gold in Germany and Switzerland. Its rhymes often deal with racial issues and discrimination against ethnic minorities in Europe.

At the end of the screenings, we closed the voting for the Vitaliano Camarca Audience Award, dedicated to the personality who was the first one to bring cinema to the people in Amantea with the Film Mediterraneo program. On the occasion of the centenary of his birth, La Guarimba wanted to pay homage to him with the creation of a digital archive in his memory.


The last day of the festival’s screenings was dedicated to the out-of-competition sections, which enriched the program with films selected by external programmers, to give an even more diversified and representative vision of different ideas and cultures.

Americania, the selection of independent American shorts curated by Sam Morrill, has entered the intimacy of contemporary American daily life; Karmala, the African cinema program created by Keba Danso of Karmala Cultura, has rediscovered three titles from the African continent giving voice to a poorly represented cinema; A Screen for Glas Animation is the selection of the best shorts selected by the Californian animation festival partner of La Guarimba, which this year had to take place online for the second consecutive year. We decided to offer them a screen where they can project their films in front of an audience in presence.

French director Jonathan Phanhsay-Chamson, guest of the festival, presented his animated film 1000 Dreams: Zenti the Invincible.


The short films awarded in the various categories of La Guarimba International Film Festival 2021 are:

BEST FICTION: The Unseen River (Phạm Ngọc Lân | 2020 | 23 ′ | Vietnam)

BEST ANIMATION: Nuevo Rico (Kris Mercado | 2021 | 16 ′ | United States / Puerto Rico)

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Just A Guy (Shoko Hara | 2020 | 15 ′ | Germany / Japan)

BEST VIDEOCLIP: Never Ever (Evgeniv Bakirov | 2020 | 3 ′ | Russia)

INSOMNIA AWARD: Aninsri Daeng (Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke | 2020 | 29 ′ | Thailand)

LA GROTTA DEI PICCOLI AWARD: Mum Is Pouring Rain (Hugo de Faucompret | 2021 | 27 ′ | France)

“VITALIANO CAMARCA” AUDIENCE AWARD: 3 Meetings Of The Extraordinary Committee (Jones | 2020 | 18 ′ | United Kingdom & Bulgaria)

NONNINA AWARD: God Was Here! (Raluca Lupascu | 2020 | 27 ′ | Netherlands & Romania)



Several newspapers, websites, blogs and magazines have talked about La Guarimba throughout the year, talking about the struggles we have encountered and the results we have achieved. We ended up on national newspapers such as Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, Sky Arte, i-D Vice, Ansa and Left. Vogue has included us among the stages of a special cultural summer itinerary in Calabria. At the regional level, , Il Quotidiano del Sud and La Gazzetta del Sud have given us space in different editions, while the TGR has dedicated two broadcast services to us. The media partnership with MyMovies.it, the largest film information site in Italy, has guaranteed us space and visibility among the competent audience.


The illustrator Quan Zhou Wu, aka Gazpacho Agridulce, was a guest of La Guarimba in the Artists in Residency program. During the days of the festival, she made and gave us a beautiful illustrated diary of her moments in Amantea.

Quan is a second-generation Spanish with Chinese roots, who addresses in her works this dual identity and the cultural stereotypes she has experienced since her birth. With this diary, we gathered a new perspective of the multicultural Guarimba community.