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ciao Aracà (2019) Film Review


Directed by: #DanielChisholm

Written by: #KarenLönneker


Nestled amongst the picturesque hills of the Arroscia valley on the slopes of the Maritime Alps, the ageing inhabitants of the sunlit hamlet in Aracà of Northern Italy bravely face the uncertain future of their beloved agriculture industry, as globalisation and modernisation threaten to diminish this multigenerational, diminishing Italian community.

ciao Aracà (2019) documents the idyllic Ligurian countryside and authentically captures the intimate, unobtrusive experiences of the everyday lives of the elder inhabitants of Aracà, as they relay their fascinating experiences to an off camera interviewer. From the first instance, we become completely immersed in the inviting location with atmospheric sounds of birds chirping and the stunning natural landscape.

One of the elder inhabitants of Aracà, Nati, stands in a medium shot with a backdrop of the olive trees
ciao Aracà (2019) film poster

The documentary is slow paced and exhibits sensitive, tender direction as bilingual German/English director Daniel Chisholm simply allows the visuals and rich soundscape to convey a certain tranquil, yet melancholic mood. The film foregoes the use of music and voiceover to allow the inhabitants of Aracà to tell their own stories, leading to many poignant and bittersweet moments as we come to realise that a once thriving, social community has now changed as a result of modernisation and globalisation. One particularly striking sequence sees one of the elderly inhabitants demonstrate the diminishing of the Italian community as foreigners from Germany, Holland and UK have made holiday homes in the area, where many of the elders once lived.

The filmmakers create a truly compelling cinematic experience which endears you to the location and its incredible people, presenting their daily struggles with dignity and the remarkable positive outlooks many still possess. The documentary makes for a very rewarding and revealing watch, demonstrating the importance of films like this in highlighting agricultural and international trade issues, as well as the sacrifices parents have made for their children to allow the younger generation to move away from the rural landscape. It is particularly jarring and impressive to see a crooked, elderly man of 90 (Nati) wielding a chainsaw and working hard at planting new olive trees and heart-breaking to discover that he has never experienced a holiday before, a devastating fact he admits with a tear rolling down his cheek. The film is dedicated in loving memory to him and other members of the community when they sadly passed away shortly afterwards.

It feels like a real privilege to be able to enter the spaces and worlds of this small community of land workers and proves that sometimes less is more in the documentary format, by simply allowing the subjects to tell their thought provoking stories alongside beautiful cinematography. The film offers a moving, emotionally resonant experience as we witness the optimistic bravery of the elderly inhabitants, as well as presenting a more uplifting side as we see some members of the younger generation are exploring new ways to reform their agricultural practices, to meet the new challenges of countryside life in a transformed world.

Overall, ciao Aracàis a wonderful documentary which flawlessly provides a unique, revealing insight into the daily lives of the admirable, elder Italian land owners facing an uncertain future in the wake of globalisation and modernisation. The slow pace and lack of a musical score to accompany the dialogue and visuals may not be for everyone, however, the honest sincerity and compelling themes which shines through all aspects of the production make this documentary a must watch.


ciao Aracà (2019) trailer:


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