EXTINCTION REBELLION IN PARIS

 

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A village.
A real village, built at the Châtelet, in the center of Paris.
It is a real village – I wouldn’t call it simply an encampment – fully equipped to facilitate the permanence of the Extinction Rebellion people.

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There are tents, small yurtas, improvised but well-tended gardens, spaces dedicated to debates; toilets, meeting points, a medical center and even a cellar; and a gratuiterie where warm clothes are available in case of a cold night.
The slogans are as varied and colorful as the new residents of Châtelet. Some “hardcore” mottoes; and more reasoned ones. The main goal is printed on the banner that crosses the rue de Rivoli at the corner of Boulevard Sébastopol where the crowd is. “CHANGE OF PRIORITY.” Accordingly, the symbol of the movement is a stylized hourglass.

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The prefecture has banned the rally scheduled for the morning. It doesn’t matter. The rebels soon reorganize, call a meeting right under the banner.
There is no shadow of the gilet jaunes here: just some hasty tags on a bus shelter. Gilets orange are what the people of the order service are wearing, and peaceful protesters are on stage.

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After adjusting the amplification system, a skinny and whiskered blond young man takes the microphone and starts a rap with ecological rhymes for the crowd that is beginning to gather.
His militant lyrics reach beyond the Fontaine du Châtelet to the Pont au Change, which is blocked at the end of the Quai de l’Horloge by the offshoots of the Extinction Rebellion village.
While two young men are intent on cleaning the stone parapet of the old bridge, smudged by tags, a gilet orange shows an alternative way to the Île de la Cité to an Asian tourist in fluent English. Two dogs play nearby following in the footsteps of passers-by while their masters kneel on the pavement creating new tatzebaos.
Persons who are just curious mingle with activists. Someone asks questions. Someone else takes pictures. Here and there you can see the discreet presence of reporters ready to collect impressions and news on the events of the day.
In rue de Rivoli a lady in a raincoat is bent over the asphalt intent on leaving a mark of her militant participation: “REBEL FOR LIFE.” On a window “ANIMAL REBELLION – INSURRECTION – STOP FARMING/LIVESTOCK AND FISHING.” To partially shade an igloo tent decorated with a red and black ladybug-style motif another banner announces: “HERE WE CULTIVATE.” Less than ten meters away, a field with timid plants sprouting out of the humid dark soil.

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The attention returns to the rue de Rivoli where the young rapper calls another person to the center of the scene.
A girl announces the name of Carola Rackete.
The brave German captain of the rescue boat Sea Watch 3 timidly emerges from the crowd with her long dreads. She smiles as she advances with a firm step. The signs of the judicial events of the summer – linked to the rescue of migrants in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea – left memories on her young face. Her eyes reveal the ideals in which she believes and for which she fights.
She greets everybody and announces that she will make her speech in French, apologizing for her pronunciation, holding a smartphone with the text of her speech.
Carola speaks for about ten minutes: she tells about her commitment to the environmental cause – she spent time at the North Pole studying the effects of pollution on ice – and underlines how the phenomenon of migration has always been linked to environment and climate changes. Saving people at sea is simply the logical consequence of her environmental activism.
Everyone listens.
Someone is preparing a question.
I take some pictures.
I take one frame in particular.
At the back of my mind a painting preserved in the Louvre Museum, just a few hundred meters from where we stand.
A fraction of a second before the CLIC and everything is done!
Carola Rackete magically enters in a black-and-white version of Le Radeau de la Méduse (1818-19) by Théodore Géricault – the painting depicting a tragedy at sea which at the time had a great international impact.
Or maybe I just imagined seeing one of Lucas Cranach’s Madonnas…Painting and photography… Past and present.

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Looking at the black writing on the side gate of the Théâtre de Ville, which is all wrapped up for restoration, it would seem that the future also looks back to the past: “1871 VIVA THE COMMUNE!”
Perfectly complementary to the “OUR DESIRES PROVIDE DISORDER” graffiti which I had come across a few hours earlier near the Pompidou Center.

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A CONVERSATION WITH ARTIST FEDERICO GARIBALDI

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A conversation with Italian artist/director/photographer FEDERICO GARIBALDI who just a few days ago won the Silver Dolphin prize at 2018 Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards.

How did you go from photography to film directing? The question needs to be asked now that you’ve won the Silver Dolphin prize at the 2018 Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards.

I don’t know when I started photography, to begin with. I know even less when I started to film. I have a clear memory of myself looking at my grandpa, a cool – old photographer son of two wars, developing film or cutting and fixing the final version of a precious movie, the one we took together every Sunday, during the family field trip to the lake. I was five at the time, and I started to think that what matters is to mix. My mind started to give a meaning to the images, freezing single moments out of a movie, or imagining situations about a single pic.
I think I can tell you I never moved from one to the other. Only, my life gifted me with the chance to become a professional photographer, and I developed a personal technique to fulfill my goal: storytelling. Since then and there, the direction was very clear, and the jump was short enough to take.

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As director you continue to use your FujiFilm GFX 50. How do you combine the use of video and still frames (of course you’re famous for multiple-exposures shots)?

I feel I’ve already answered part of your question. Referring to multiple exposures I’ll keep investigating the same area of interest. What usually remains, after a trip or after a job has been accomplished, is a complex true to life feeling, something in between a state of mind and a state of the heart. I don’t generally freeze single images, I rather like to freeze feelings, and try to reproduce them. Feelings usually mix themselves inside other feelings, that’s what happens in my stories. You also asked me about the camera I use. Though, obviously, when I direct a movie I’m not alone on the set, the choice of FUJI GFX 50 was driven by the consideration that that’s the only digital medium format to shoot double exposure, as I don’t like to over-manipulate my pics on the computer. The camera is fast, the task is easy. It does shoot a good video resolution, as well. So far it’s more than enough for what I`m working about.

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Watching Reggiani a Thread Linking Water, Earth and Sky, one can appreciate a delicate fluidity in the visual storytelling. What was the idea that inspired this work and how did you attain your artistic goal?

The whole project investigates environmental sustainability. It’s of course a key moment in the life of the Company, and during my first conversation w/ Mr. Giovanni Reggiani I could clearly feel the enormous respect that he has for a valley where he’s spent almost all his life, and which represents his personal story and his family’s. The river is the center of all this, the great father of the valley, and the precious son of the mountain. Interpretation and description in this condition were going to be almost the same thing. The work was really very easy.

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Was the short film you made for the famous Italian brand Reggiani S.p.A. your first experience as a director or had you already experimented with videos?

That was my first experience w/ an institutional video, with clear marketing and Adv purposes. Which suggests to me the opportunity to thank – very much – Mr. Giovanni Reggiani for the trust he has placed in me, and in the project. Before that, I realized some art projects, linked to different personal exhibitions, but that was more related to my artistic career. I also realized a small number of editorial video projects. Those experiences were truly fun.

For Reggiani a Thread Linking Water, Earth and Sky you collaborated with art director Roberto Pelizzoni. How was this join venture born?

Roberto is an old and really great friend ( and when I say old I mean young… ). To work w/ him is truly easy, indeed. He’s very demanding, at the same time he knows his way through. Roberto has a great knowledge of the ADV system. And he’s known my technique and my way of conceiving work for ages. We don’t need to talk a lot on the set. We talk a lot before. And after.

During the private preview presentation of the short film at Reggiani S.p.A.’s headquarters, in Varallo Sesia, you also chose to show the backstage shooting that documented your work. What did you ask for to the backstage set photographer when recording the “making of” the film?

That’s you! I feel it’s truly charming when people have the chance to see in-between all the moments of a job. It’s like a double exposure on life. Problem and solution, fighting and laughing, working and resting all become parts of one story. At the end of the day different feelings remain. And a cool story to remember.

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All color shots © Federico Garibaldi
All backstage b&w shots © Matteo Ceschi
REGGIANI A THREAD LINKING WATER, EARTH AND SKY
(See the short film for the credits)