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Capo e Croce: a breath of hope

In 2010 thousands of Sardinian shepherds coming from the whole island joined together into a Movement. They peacefully marched from Cagliari to Rome and then to Bruxelles in order to outline their issues. Their goal is to obtain the legal protection for their products, which are often demeaned by the imported goods, by attesting the preponderant role of their most valuable treasures.

What is the first thought that comes to mind when people talk about Sardinia? The more prosaic persons immediately imagines resorts, white beaches and crystal clear water. The more accurate ones, instead, first of all visualize the large pastures where huge flocks of sheep graze and, secondly, think about how delicious the pecorino cheese is. Due to a simplistic vision of the island, most of the times people believe that the real source of income for Sardinia comes from tourism of seaside resorts. The truth is that its wealth is not just the beaches or the carasau bread: it is the milk and cheese produced by dozens of shepherds across the island. Shepherds are the engine of the economy and life in Sardinia: thanks to their job they can send their children to school, to university, in large cities. With the aim of making them become the ruling class which will give a breath of hope to the barren Sardinian land.

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Because what Sardinian shepherds really need is hope. For decades they have been experiencing the degradation of their work due to foreign goods (especially Spanish and German) passed off as native; the lack of contributions from the European Community (sometimes they are stuck in the Regional Council); the lack of protection for their milk, which is their most valuable asset. Some shepherds even suggests to throw away the produced milk at the foot of the Regional Administration, in order to move the powerful people’s consciences (or at least their wallets!) with this extreme gesture.

An exceptional action in the name of a struggle that has been going on for two decades, culminating in October 19th 2010 in the occupation of the the Regional Council to Cagliari. Then, in December of that same year, the movement of Sardinian Shepherds tried to bring their case to Rome, to the Parliament. More than two hundred shepherds were blocked at the port of Civitavecchia by large police forces, who denied them their constitutional right to move freely within the national territory. Among these “dangerous subversives” there was Tore, there was Giovanni, there were Priamo, Dino and Felice: simple plainspoken people in love with their job. They have to face high production costs for keeping farm animals, which are no longer a source of income, but rather a source of perpetual debt.

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A life, a struggle, that the lens of Pani and Carboni collects without making a mere work of denunciation. Their movie, Capo e Croce- Le ragioni dei pastori, is the Best Documentary at the 17th Italian Festival CinemAmbiente, member of Green Film Network. Moreover, this documentary represents the Italian Festival in the competition for the Green Film Network Award, whose ceremony will take place during the 8th Ecozine Festival.

Rather than events, the camera focuses on the faces, the gestures of these people, giving a reliable picture of the story the protagonists tell. This tale is made more vivid and intense through the use of black and white, which manages to level out thousands of glances captured by different media (video cameras, cameras, mobile phones). The documentary is far away from the appearance that often describes Sardinia. Its main aim is to clear the contradiction regarding not only the island, but also people who live there, including the shepherds themselves. “Capo e Croce” Pani says ” tells a story of strong contrasts. Inspired by the” heads or tails” game, it recalls a play of luck and misfortune. In the case of Sardinian shepherds, it is represented by the serenity of a good year, or by the collapse of commodity prices, restless months or even some jail time for a conviction got at a demonstration. The black and white technique helps to emphasize and makes these contrasts even more evident, removing for once that kind of beauty that most travel and tourist magazines, together with the pictures of Villa Certosa and the Costa Smeralda, usually utilize to describe Sardinia”.

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Priamo, who left accounting high school at the fourth year, makes an acute observation, not obvious at all: “... You have to stop and think: satisfying our need of food is the only thing we have to do? Because mixing up our desires with our needs is what made us give away money … we are convinced that our vices and our needs are the same. No, it is all wrong.