A Sea of Coal, the voice and portrait of an outraged territory

A trip through space and time, between childhood memories and the present life, spent far way from the beauties and the contradictions of a beloved land. Margherita is from Calabria, but she lives in Aosta. This is the story of her coming back to the origins: eight months pregnant, she decides to cross Italy in order to spend the last period of her pregnancy close to the sea.

Nevertheless, things do not always go like people expect: at her arrival, she finds out that an Italian-Swiss company intends to build a coal-fired power plant in Saline Joniche, on a site where a factory once stood.

mare carbone margherita

This is the beginning of Mare Carbone (A Sea of Coal), documentary directed by Gian Luca Rossi which was awarded at CinemAmbiente 2015 in the Italian Documentary competition. The festival is member of Green Film Network. “The project starts from the wish of giving voice to a story that needed to be toldthe director tells us. “My wife’s family (the director is Margherita’s husband, editor’s note) is from Melito di Porto Salvo: their home is just few hundreds meters far from the site where SEI, the company, wants to build a coal-fired power plant. I am a filmmaker, my way to talk about the issue is making a movie. Like I do, trying to tell a collective story from a personal, particular point of view; highlighting that political and economic decisions, often taken with a pure speculative purpose, can have important consequences on everybody’s life”.

gian luca rossi awarded at cinemambiente

Gian Luca Rossi awarded at CinemAmbiente. Photo credits: @Paolo Tangari for CinemAmbiente

The landscapes and the people we meet during the film are many. At the same time, also the questions that spontaneously arise, while the narration becomes a sort of investigative report are numerous: why want to build a power plant so close to touristic places and to the seaside? What effect will this have on the territory? And what would the health risks and environmental impacts be?

Nowadays reflecting on environmental issues is more important than ever. We all have to change radically, both in the lifestyle and the management of natural resources. We must push leaders and powerful people to change their attitudeMr. Rossi continues. “Cinema can-and must- play its part. I chose to let images and voices speak, in order to tell the story of a reality which is often silenced or shouted, in the stream of a chronicle with no memory. Of course, we also need ears able to listen and proper communication channels that are often missing. “Movies save the planet” was the slogan of the last edition of CinemAmbiente. I don’t know whether films can save the world, but if you are a filmmaker you have to think that it is like this, just a little.

Gian Luca Rossi-Movies Save the Planet

Gian Luca Rossi. Photo credits: @Paolo Tangari for CinemAmbiente

Therefore A Sea of Coal aims to make the needs of an outraged land visible and to talk about an area that experiments daily the rift between what it could be and what it is in reality, due to an indolent or corrupted ruling class.

On the screen, the director concludes: “past and present, memories and daily routine, nature and the humanity living in these places took shape almost alone, independently from me. They became the images and sounds of a film that I lived as an act of love for a land, for the Earth, for my kids”. In September, 2013 in a referendum in the canton of Grisons, where Swiss headquarter for SEI is located, citizens expressed dissent towards the project; in Italy this collective worth-fighting battle still goes on in several ways: on social networks, on the territory, and above all, in court.