Simone Felici was born in Genoa. He began his creative career as a punk rock bassist in several bands and doing several tours between Europe and the United States. Not tired of traveling for work, he decided to spend a few years working as a light designer for some important Italian theater companies. Discovering his passion for lights he decided to devote himself in the direction of the photography which he studied in Barcelona at the ESCAC in 2009. Thanks to this he started working as a camera crew member in film productions ranging from movies, documentaries and advertising.
How did this project begin, and how did you process it? Tell us more about the story you decided to tell.
It all started when I began chatting with the immigrants who beg for alms in my neighborhood. Generally speaking, they are very skeptical and reserved, and it takes time to break the ice. Once I have gained their trust, and feel comfortable, they tell a lot about themselves, but always ignoring the emotional aspects in their stories. This aspect that in our Italian cultural formation can’t find, in them is a predominant characteristic. They have a protective armor. I decided to take this as an element in favor and take up this challenge.
Why did you decide to tell Sulayman’s story? How did you get in touch with him?
It took me months to meet Sulayman. After a series of doors in the face and some threats I met Sulayman thanks to the social corporative CEIS. What I have learned during this research is that these youngsters face stages in their stay in Italy, whether they are interested in staying or if they have the desire to go elsewhere. In many cases their expectations are fed by false hopes. They are moved from one center to another often with the sole intent of nurturing their hope and keeping the situation under control.
Sulayman instead we can say is lucky because he was sent to a small situation in a small town. The different context of the society allowed him to integrate himself, find a job and sincere friends.
What struck you about him and his story?
I chose to work with him for his privacy and his shyness. He is definitely a big-hearted boy. He never wanted to dwell on specific details about his journey in the desert or his stay in Libya. Avoiding to make any pressure and trying to put it at ease, I let a lot of things remain between the lines that I hope the most heedful spectator will able to catch.
The theme of this video is very current, what did you want to convey to the audience?
I wanted to tell this story, with a totally different approach. In this last period we are continually overloaded with news concerning the topic of immigration, many of which are false. Leaving aside the purely journalistic style, which doesn’t belong to me, I wanted to deal with emotions. I wanted his face to speak more than his words.
Most of us know the social adversity that immigrants face or the glaring economic difficulties. On a few occasions we have direct testimonies on the emotional aspects such as in this case the separation from the family and from their own land.
What do you hope the future holds for you? And what do you think the future holds for Sulayman?
I would like to get involved in longer projects, but next time, dealing exclusively with telling a story through images. I like those projects that are crossover, which mix narrative styles, from the fashion film to the documentary to the narrative short film.
For example, I would like to tell about the story of a kid from Mongolia who does not have access to the internet but has immense curiosity about the world. Capturing the way he relate to things and emotions different from ours. I would certainly prefer to work with those populations that own less than us Westerners.
About Sulayman and for all those like him, I wish they were no longer obliged to prove their worth to deserve respect. At the moment he has to prove more than the others and face higher obstacles than the Italian to get opportunities that we often take for granted and we consider trivial. In the near future I sincerely hope that the situation in his country will allow him to visit his family whenever he wishes.