Behind Bollezzumme Socialab

Who are we?

We are a sort of Dirty Dozen or Magnificent Seven or Wild Bunch, if you want, but we don’t shot guns; we rather shoot videos, pictures, performances and books. Besides - we don’t die as heroes, we may live long to shoot a lot of ideas.

From our systematic and careful exploration of i caruggi, the alleys of the six centuries old Historical Center of the city of Genoa and its port, will stem a docu-film-cult called Bollezzumme. The word comes from the dialect of Genoa, “A l'è ou boullezzumme” they say denoting the movement of the sea shore when it is hit by a mild wind that creates directions and currents as a sort of bubbling; in English it could be translated with “foaming-sea-froth”. This bollezzumme sometimes is uncomfortable and makes us sea-sick; sometimes is ironic and makes us smile; sometimes is meaningful and makes us think, exactly like life. In any case, it generates culture, movement, progress in a social background of diversity, ethnicity, confrontation.

In the 1960s - when I was a high school and university student - this diversity was coming from Italian southerners who were migrating north to look for a better life for their children and families. Now the diversity is more colorful as it comes from Africans, South Americans, Indians, and Chinese.

Who am I?

The Historical Center of Genoa has become a sort of a 'pedestrian New York', an extra borough of my elected city. The connection between the city where I was born and completed my academic and street education, Genoa - and my city of choice, New York, is very strong and goes back a few centuries not only because Christopher Columbus was from Genoa and discovered the new American continent. Both places are ports, both call for temporary and long term immigration, for travelers, workers, sailors, tourists, underground realities, beautiful buildings, local politics and controversial realities as transgender, prostitution, fetishism.

Let’s go back to my roots and the explorations of the Historical Center of Genoa and its performers, which allowed me to get, on the field, my degree in street wisdom, so useful in looking for underground spots mostly in NYC's Bronx or Harlem. I want to pay homage to my hometown by means of my previous experience of thirty-five years as a ‘urban explorer’ in New York where, I believe, I acquired a special eye at social issues and things I love, as in my two former works: 'T.V. Transvestite', a one hour long peak at the transsexual scene in Harlem, realized with Simone di Bagno in 1982, and 'Pornology New York' of 2005, a nostalgic look at the social freedom and sexual experimentation of my beloved Big Apple with the presence of my friends Lenny Waller, Neville Chambers and Porsche Lynn. Both works have become anthropological records of the past and I hope that 'Bollezzumme' will become the same.

I am the director of these three movies. To be a movie director is perhaps one of the most difficult and complex things in the realm of artistic production. In fact, when a work of art is created, the artist – say a painter, a writer or a composer – is generally left alone, more or less free to find a way to express himself. This doesn’t happen to a movie director. A movie is necessarily created by a diverse group of people around you, each one with his specific qualifications that a highly motivated director must detect, uncover, stimulate and channel toward visible results, exactly like a choir master in a concert.

Creating Bollezzumme

One balmy morning toward the end of June 2013, I was walking as usual to the Bar Cabala, my favorite spot for espresso in Genoa across the street from the Socialab, when I bumped into Alfredo Viaggi, one of the pioneers of our ‘wild bunch’. Two years earlier, in 2011, he found the site for the Socialab and he introduced me to the first characters of the movie while I was living in his flat at Vico del Duca. By all means Alfredo was the first hoop of a long chain of events

This serendipitous meeting with Alfredo made me go back to the beginning of the journey I am narrating in the movie. What happened since then? Where are we with the project?  The gods always want to be part of the game and, if you don’t bother them, they end up in helping with the first push. Well, we are now fully immersed in the complexities of the editing stage.

The people who created Bollezzumme
Luca Donnini, an artist from Rome, came to Genoa totally by chance. I remember that when Luca arrived by train to the Stazione Principe in an evening of December 2011, I walked him through the infamous Via Prè, I took him to Alfredo's home for good pasta and excellent conversation and then he went to an underground club where he could smoke pot but not cigarettes. The impact was fatal for him. He did not leave for one year and became a prisoner of i caruggi! That night I told him: “Dear Luca, the gods want us to work together at my movie!” He was experimenting shooting with a video camera, editing and having fun at it. His work - 'Walking' a 45’ video presented in June 2013 at Mix Film Milano Festival - is compelling, brilliant and personal. It gives a unique look at the city with very intriguing and powerful images and I am very proud of the outcome.

At that time I had no idea about the script or the outline of my film as it was continually growing and changing. It was a fantastic process involving many friends and was more than a work in progress: it was a full social and filming experiment. We shoot a great amount of material. Within the spirit of the project we had the principal video camera work done by Luca Donnini, Luigi Cazzaniga, Matteo Forli and whoever else was with us during the nine official days of shooting in September 2012.

In February 2013, artist and video maker Garret Linn joined me in Genoa. We went around and captured precious images and situations. Garret also helped to set up, for the editing, the diverse technical aspects of using, as a choice, different cameras, each with its own look. In fact, images have diverse looks since I want to create a visual ‘bollezzumme’ as much as I am creating a narrative ‘bollezzumme’, even in the editing process. Bollezzumme hence becomes a metaphor of the constant boiling of life as time runs head without stopping.

Adel Oberto, an international award-winning director of shorts - he just completed a 20' film ‘Il pescatore’ (The fisherman) with Michele Cadei, now starting its travelling through major film festivals - is my editor. He is from Genoa, lived in New York City the first five years of his life, graduated at the National Film & Television School  in London and speaks English better than me.

Other collaborators to the project are producer Francesca Abbadessa and Gioacchino Turbo, managers with a generous attitude, very precious assistants in any artistic endeavor; Riccardo Barbera, a musician who enthusiastically invested his talent in some very moody and groovy tunes with great passion; Matteo Forli, Stefano Agnini, Matteo manzitti, for their work on camera, sound and music; Lidia Giusto for the stills; Adrian Chiro, Cecilia Malfatto, Chloe Raffaelli for their assistance and support. And finally my very important 'script-shrinks' Alberto Borriero, Paolo Cecchi and Guido Giovannini Torelli; the latter also contributed to the texts in this website.

Currently the project is in the hands and hearts of me and Adel. The editing is in the delicate moment of decisions, cuts, and choices. What do we want to say, tell, show of the hundreds of hours we shot? What is coming out of the many chats, interviews, meetings? We will have the answers only when the film is finished with the music, the sound, and the voices of the many people who were in front and in the back of our cameras.

I like to name in casual order all the people and friends who have been partaking in different capacities and at various time: Luca, Cecilia, Chloe, Matteo, Dagmar, Joachim, Mimma, Alfredo, Enrico, Elisabetta, Giacomo, Maya, Luigi, Cosimo, Paola, Guido, Maria, Nico, Rosario, Susanna, Alessia, Bri, Ulla, Mauro, Mauri, Bruna, Sara, Ugo, Claudio, Marco, Piero, Stella, Thelma. Forgive me if I left out somebody: I am grateful to all of them for their generosity and availability. This is the 'Bollezzumme Wild Bunch'. Each one of them has been and will continue to be part of this whimsical philosophy, a state of mind even more creative than the movies, photos, videos or works of art we will eventually produce.

A trailer/teaser has been realized by Gianni, Paolo, Federico, my friends in Milan:


It is what it is meant to be: a little taste, which creates curiosity and expectations of what is going to be the film.

Socialab and Screenings on Tuesdays

Two other main twigs of the Bollezzumme big tree were 'Tuesday at the Socialab' and ‘Cinebollezzumme’. Since the beginning of February, a highly heterogeneous crowd gathered at our place, located in a strategic section of the Historical Center close to the Porto Antico, Via Prè and Via Balbi. We offered old and new movies and documentaries, vintage porno flicks, performances, book reading, political discussion, live music from rock to opera.

We have been taping on and off such events.

Alternatively - always on Tuesdays - we organized the 'Cinebollezzumme' at a screening room created at Fabrizio Nanni’s Bar Sottoripa where we showed films by Polanski, Antonioni, Cassavetes and other great directors. We have been a different reality – may be a little naughty and underground – of the cultural life of Genoa mostly connected by word of mouth. Both activities spanned the cultural spectrum from classics to porno, a 360 degrees approach to culture and information, I must say.


What’s next?
On November 22nd I will celebrate my 67th birthday with a closing party at the Socialab which will be filmed as the last scene of the movie. On that occasion we’ll surely also remember what happened one morning of fifty years ago in Dallas, Texas.

The sirens of New York are singing again loudly for me, both of them, Ulysses’ mermaids and the shrieking sirens at night in the city that never sleeps! The energy you feel there is unique and that is the reason why so many people go there, including me in 1978...

Two years went by since I started writing the project and now it is almost ready. I have a very interesting cut of 91 minutes. I showed it to friends in Genoa, Rome, Milan, New York and their first impression was very positive: “The film is there” they all said. So I have to keep my head straight, trim the cut, add the voice over, mix the music, write the subtitles for the English version, invent some editing surprise… This is a lot of work and the adrenaline is flowing in our systems. The goal to show our vision of Genoa is becoming urgent and I promise it will be poetic and personal. Part of this work, anyhow, I have to do it in New York as the film needs to be 'bathed in the Hudson River' and even maybe in 'Laland', Los Angeles, the world capital of filmmaking.

In fact, since the beginning my goal has been to have the first version in English so to explore various options in the American market, both for theatrical release and TV programming – the sky is the limit!

It helps a lot that a documentary recently won the 60th Venice Film Festival and also that is making some money at the box office. Good news, especially for my investor. Only Michael Moore in Cannes won the first price at a festival with a documentary film.

Going in flashback I see a film in itself.

With 'bollezzumme' I feel that I accomplished something good for myself, my friends and my hometown. This exciting trip is not completely over, I know, because of the final post-production phase and the gigantic work to promote, sell and show it. While I am finishing this project, already in the back of my mind I have new dreams, new ideas and new projects, the next one. When a soccer player is asked which is the best goal he scored, the best answer is 'the next one'.

I look forward to complete this movie swiftly and start a new project right away.

I know that 'bollezzumme' is mostly the film but it is also a way of life. It is a tree to which are attached many branches, the work of friends in art, television and cinema. It does not belong to me only but to whoever has been working on it and wish to work with it: I look forward to see all my friends on the 22nd of November in Genoa to celebrate together so many things.

Menu' Principale




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