[ trailer ]

I SOGNI DI ROMA explores the resilience of our imagination in the times of the pandemic, 
as told by the Romans through the dreams they experienced during 50 days of strict quarantine.

The five-part film series is currently being exhibited in Italy with Cortona on the Move
and shown online with the COVID Visual Project.

Directed, Shot & Edited by Mo Scarpelli
Sound Recordings by Felix Blume, Mo Scarpelli
Produced by Andrea Arena
Commissioned by Cortona on the Move Visual Narratives Scholarship

A Vessel + Rake Films production


After quarantine measures were imposed on the entire country in early March, Italians became the first nation not only to live through but also to widely document the experience of isolation that much of the world would enter shortly after. Though for Italians it would prove to be the harshest and longest lockdown.

In this time, dreaming became a gift. To dream is to not only escape from confinement; it is, if we let it, a portal into our innermost fears and desires. In quarantine, one would dream (and we found, dream more strangely and profoundly than usual). The constructions of worlds in our sleep could bring joy, reunion with those we could not touch physically or see with our eyes; it could bring confusion about our singularity, our inability to use rational thought; it could allow absurd and sometimes violent acts to take place before our eyes. 

In effect, the Romans’ voices in this series of five short films provide us an exercise in survival. The dreamers recorded their voices alone, shut into their house, in a similar position to when they dreamed, and sometimes right after a dream. They transmit the facts — images, sounds and sensations — of their strongest dreams during the lockdown. The filmmaker then constructs an additional layer to these transmissions: sounds and images which act as tonal poems, dichotomies, or modes of absorptions to the dreams. 

The themes of each film are based on notions from Carl Jung's studies on dreams, which he imparts in his memoir Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Five themes — “the possession of a secret,” ”the life we live and the one we have forgotten,” “the inner confrontation of opposites,” ”the spirit does not dwell on concepts but on deeds and facts, and ”patterns of hopes and desires”. While the body is no doubt in focus at this time when millions of people are staying shuttered inside physically, as Jung wrote, "the psyche is distinctly more complicated and inaccessible than the body." Here, however, in quarantine, in silence, things became more accessible, if we allowed them. Perhaps our dreams were our attempt to bridge the rupture formed between ourselves and the outside world by quarantine, a revolt against the staticness, loneliness and uncertainty. While the heavy quarantine measures in Rome have since loosened, our connection to this secret world persists. Our uncertainty about the future surely looms. Perhaps these dreams of Rome provide hints for the emotional and social impact of strict quarantine on all of us during the global pandemic.

I SOGNI DI ROMA is a poetic tribute, a compass of human notions, a historical record of the psyche, a chance to glimpse the vital participation of the human being in their own imagination, in order to survive.


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