in 68th Berlinale - International Film Festival Berlin
by Mario Abbade
For some time now, Italy did not figure in the contest for the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, nor did it gain an international visibility in the German film festival so great as “Daughter of Mine” (“Figlia Mia”) achieved in 2018, by mixing a narrative capable of avoiding truisms to the visual refinement of Vladan Radovic’s photography that reveals spaces in Sardinia that did not seem noticeable before. The Sardinia of this second feature by filmmaker Laura Bispuri is a place for fishing and horse breeding, home to people that are unaware of the cultural transformations of the surrounding metropolises. People who could be called unrefined but who are only clinging to their roots, a bit like the fishing village of The Earth Trembles (“La Terra Trema”, 1948), by Luchino Visconti, a sort of indirect (and neorealistic) ancestor of the aesthetics that Laura tries to create. Her film is not fettered by the limitations of the documentary practice, nor does it employ non-actors. On the contrary, it is a film that serves as an apotheosis for great actresses (Valeria Golino, Alba Rohrwacher), affirming the filmmaker’s authorial trait of presenting strong women in environments traditionally dominated by males, as seen before in her previous film, “Sworn Virgin” (“Vergine Giurata”), by 2015, also with Alba in the cast.
“Daughter of Mine” has the most cathartic sequence of the entire Berlin Festival 2018 so far: Alba and little Sara Casu, 11, put all the energy they have to sing “Questo Amore Non Si Tocca”, hit of the Italian canzione recorded by Gioanni Bella. The two sing as if playing karaoke, blurring the boundaries of age and family hierarchy that separate them. Alba plays the alcoholic Angelica, a woman smitten with pleasure. Sara is Vittoria, a 9-year old girl who has two mothers: Angelica on one side, and the well-behaved Tina (played by Valeria Golino) on the other. In their own way, both adults compete for the heart of the girl in a story that consciously evokes the biblical myth of Solomon: two women consulted the king, each claiming the right to be the mother of a child, and Solomon suggested that the baby should be cut in half so each mother would have one piece of the child. In the myth, the woman who refused to hurt the baby would be the real mother. To let go is to know how to love. And this is the wisdom that Laura seeks to understand from the pathos of its protagonists: which one will have to give up on Vittoria? Or is there another way? Conciliation is the key word of this festival.
Another merit of the film is the sound engineering behind the design of noises, voices and silences signed by Emil Klotzsch. It was a very technical year in the sound department of the feature films in competition (with emphasis on “U-July 22”) and, in this technological evolution of greater perception , “Daughter of Mine” stands out among the other films for its accurate record of all the noise that surrounds those women speaking in exasperated tones. It is a world of screams, of high-pitched voices, where excess acts as a demarcation of space that contrasts with the silence of the doubt that reigns over the heart of Vittoria.