Commercial interests and respect of ecosystems: goods traveling ‘Across The Alps’

The Alps have several facets. They are a touristic destination and a crossing point; they have the strength of majesty and the fragility of an ecosystem which is sensitive to changes; they are the protagonists and the silent witnesses of a big amount of daily trips that trucks and trains full of goods make across them.

Across The Alps”, a documentary film by Giancarlo Bertalero and Filippo Ciardi, tells the story of the massive transfers of products through Alpine tunnels and crossing-places, questioning the impact they have on the environment and the life of most of Europe’s citizens.


The idea of this documentary film was born thanks to an important inquiry about the traffic of goods and passengers I coordinated as an expert of logistics and means of transport. The job has been co-financed by European Commission and managed by C.A.F.I. (association in charge of enhancing intermodal transport in French Italian Alps, editor’s note)” Giancarlo Bertalero explains.During the study- which nowadays is the most accurate existing analysis about the topic- I realized that these issues are rarely addressed, while information about current or forthcoming infrastructural interventions are rarely spread in their overall system”.

Between realizing this lack of information and the production of the film there is the meeting with the other director, Filippo Ciardi, who told us the origins of this fruitful cooperation: “When I met Giancarlo- who’s a friend as well- at the end of his research, I was immediately infected by his enthusiasm about the discoveries he had made. Together we decided to start from these data and contacts in order to show the stories of people working in the field of transalpine traffic management. By assuming that traveling across the Alps with this kind of goal could be interesting for both us and the potential audience, we tried to make the “main characters” talk about a world that maybe only technicians themselves know”.

frame-da-clip-19-camion-in-uscita-dal-tunnel-tenda-lato-italiaFrame from “Across The Alps” © Filippo Ciardi and Giancarlo Bertalero/Associazione Attraversamenti

As a matter of fact, the narrative voices in the film belong to people who work, decide, coordinate and daily live the routine of these trips. With no intermediation, nor particular adornments: “With regard to the style, we decided to be realists by shooting and editing some interviews and images in motion. On the other hand, we didn’t give up on the poetry of traveling itself, and not even on the poetry of environment, which is not only natural, but also based on the workers’ sensations”.

We preferred to show, rather than demonstrate. We gave rise to truck and engine drivers, managers of transportation companies, institutional representatives, citizens and other protagonists’ words in order to let the audience form their own opinion, without any dogmatic priority. Moreover, we wanted to emphasize that a regulation of transalpine traffic is needed, and that more and more goods should necessarily travel by train rather than by truck. On the other hand, also an agreement among several parties is needed, with no search for scapegoats”.

In all these comings and goings, there is an aspect which absolutely can’t be neglected: the importance of minimizing the harmful effects of this kind of traffic on the complex alpine ecosystem. From this assumption, it is fundamental to identify which means of transportation are less invasive, and act accordingly. “We believe that our film carries the audience in these crossing-places by giving information about the management of the traffic and its impact on the European economy, the environment and the local communities” the directors conclude. “We think that our observation can offer another point of view, and help the politicians, managers, institutions and associations make more conscious decisions in the field of the environmental protection”.

premiazione-con-capizzi-schiona-e-giuratiThe directors awarded at CinemAmbiente 2016

Thanks to this forward-looking perspective, able to offer a “reflection about the respect of Alpine system”, “Across The Alps” received the Best Italian Documentary Award at CinemAmbiente Environmental Film Festival 2016, member of Green Film Network.