[ trailer ]

I SOGNI DI ROMA explores the resilience of our imagination in the times of immense fear.
The five-part video exhibition is  a traversing of dreamscapes
of Romans during the 50 initial and strictest days of Italy's COVID-19 lockdown.

In March 2020, the whole of Italy was put into complete quarantine for what would turn out to be 50 days and nights. Most everyone in Rome did not leave their homes for days, even weeks, in fear of a mysterious disease and/or the heavy fines imposed by the Italian government for going outside. 

In this time, dreaming became a gift, a way to access worlds and people we could not touch. 

I SOGNI DI ROMA is an immersive exploration of the confusion, the longing, the relief through imagined worlds,
and the immense dread that pervaded our sleep during this singular time in history.

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.
Exhibited in Fortezza del Girifalco, Giardini del Parterre, Palazzo Baldelli and online with the COVID Visual Project

A Vessel + Rake Films production



By now, we all know what 'lockdown' means. But in March 2020, Italians were the first to experience a nationwide mandatory quarantine, of a mysterious disease we were sure at the time could kill us all. For Italians to shut into a home, to lose physical touch with the family, the comunitá, the piazza, was devastating in ways we are still trying to understand. Even after COVID-19 spread elsewhere, the first Italian lockdown would prove the harshest and most disorienting in all of Europe and the Americas throughout the pandemic.

During these initial horrifying 50 days and nights of lockdown, dreaming became a gift. To dream is to not only escape from confinement - it is to descend a portal into our innermost fears and desires. In the quiet of solitude, this portal became steeper, the churnings inside of us became louder, clearer. What could the dream, this psychic clap of thunder, a vibration from the deep, tell us about ourselves? About the world we thought we knew?

The Romans’ voices in these films provide 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. I then slipped with my camera into the empty streets of Rome with these voices resounding in my head, seeking sounds and images which may act as tonal poems, dichotomies, or modes of absorptions for their dreams. The film's chapters/sections are based on notions from Carl Jung's studies on dreams, imparted in his memoir Memories, Dreams, Reflections.  In the silence of quarantine, the current of past dreamers and consciousnesses could rush upon us swiftly. The possession of a secret. The inner confrontation of opposites. The life we live, and the one we have forgotten. Were our dreams an attempt to mend the rupture formed between ourselves and the outside world? A revolt against staticness, loneliness and uncertainty? Or were they simply a testing-ground for emotions we have been suppressing for nights, for years, for centuries?

When the heavy lockdown measures in Rome loosened in summer 2020, the city's dreamers kept sending me material. But their voices had lost something. The finger to the pulse of a vein sliced clean by the dream — it was gone. We were safe again. Waking life returned, the dream faded into an afterthought. For this I SOGNI DI ROMA may serve as a historical document of a phenomena we may never find again.

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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