La lunga strada gialla, a trip through a resilient Italy

The meeting with a different country, rediscovered with a slow pace in its whole authentic beauty and in its traditions. A unique trip of its kind, riding a mule through the South of Italy, which is active and virtuous, but too often forgotten, penalized and underestimated.

The protagonists of the beautiful documentary “La lunga strada gialla”, directed by Christian Carmosino and Antonio Oliviero, experienced it and told their story. The movie won the Environment and Society Award at CinemAmbiente 2016, festival member of the Green Film Network.

On May 1, 2012, two young men from Palermo, Mirko and Federico, leave with their mules from Portella della Ginestra, a very important place for the Italian history. The aim of their trip is to reach Quirinal Palace, in Rome, and deliver the testimony of an Italy seeking redemption, in the form of ‘pizzini’ (paper notes which report tasks to be accomplished – editor’s note) collected on their way, to the President of Italian Republic.

Mirko and Federico, the protagonists od the Movie

Antonio Oliviero and Christian Carmosino, whom we talked about the film with, tell us the motivation behind the production of their documentary. “Probably, the main reason was curiosity. We wondered whether they could make it and succeed in their small and poorly organized adventure. Talking with Mirko and Federico, we discovered two men convinced that their action could change something and raise awareness. We were touched by this motivation, by this atypical and simple journey that wanted to face complex and old issues like ecology and legality. Obviously the idea to rediscover ancient rural roads with them was an important factor. The beauty and the colors that Southern Italy can give, mostly in that season, are rare. And they must be defended”.

In this modern era, made of cars, provincial roads and fast production, a part of the country continues to keep a different way of life. Ecology, love for the nature and respect for the environment are the strong points for an alternative idea of development which includes agriculture, breeding and sustainable tourism, focusing on beauty and simplicity.

A picture of La Lunga Strada Gialla

The mule, a very hard worker, becomes the symbol of hope for people who every day keep alive these virtues, but at the same time have to face its difficulties, caused by the indifference for this ancient rural culture, even from the institutions.

La lunga strada gialla”, shows to the audience the protagonists of this reality. Breeders are crushed by modern market laws, fishermen have to fight against a suffering sea and carry on a hard competition with people who don’t preserve its biodiversity. Actors of a pure Italy, where craft and dexterity are disappearing, as well as the ancient mule tracks, which are swallowed up by cement.

A trip made of wonder and awareness in which, thanks to its protagonists, we can take several shades. “The style of the film is the result of choices and limits”, continue the directors. “The logistics of the trip did not allow us to follow Mirko and Federico every single day. Moreover, we didn’t want to invade their moments of loneliness, given the importance of their relationship with the journey. For the same reason, we decided to use images captured by the protagonists, with the help of a small camera. During assembly, we realized that, in addition to the meetings on the road, the most interesting moments were the silent ones, the moments in which the landscape drifted with the slow rhythm of the mules. Rather than fill the movie with too much voices or interviews, we preferred to show this small adventure in the way the protagonists lived it, slowly and silently”.

The directors Antonio Oliviero and Christian Carmosino at CinemAmbiente 2016 with the Environment and Society Award

The directors Antonio Oliviero and Christian Carmosino at CinemAmbiente 2016 with the Environment and Society Award

Through the eyes and the experience of the two guys, we meet an authentic world, made of work and respect for the land, of deep virtues that we risk to mislay if, alienated by the frenzy of our time, we don’t learn to stop and lighten the load, to get rid of the superfluous in order to rediscover the big value of simplicity.

The clear thing, at the end of the film”, conclude the directors, “is the fact that they didn’t succeed. The declared aim of the journey failed, but some questions have been arising: what was their real aim? How can they concretely increase the attention to this kind of issues, sensitize the people they meet during their trip? We realized that, if there is one, the message is this: the change starts with daily little actions. The vector of this creed are not the messages delivered to the Quirinal Palace, but rather the passion and the humanity they showed during the journey, their interest for the weakest people, for the rural areas. There we can find an example of militancy and stubbornness. The word we used to say in our little talks was ‘simplicity’. A simple journey, to discover simple people. But a lot of simple actions together can get to change things”.