THE STONE RIVER
Piero Bongiorno, Olivier Touche
HD - colour & b/w
festival & awards:
An elderly sculptor wanders through the cemetery of Hope, interrogating the tombs of the stonecutters who in the early twentieth century left Carrara and many other parts of Europe to come to Barre, Vermont, where one of the world’s largest granite quarries was opening. A metaphysical journey through provincial America today, in which the living give body and voice to the ghosts of their ancestors. A surprising fresco that portrays the tragic odyssey of an entire community in its perennial and titanic struggle against stone, fraught with dramatic social turmoil and deaths on the job, between the splendour of the art of sculpture and anarchic utopia, between hope and tragedy.
The film was inspired by the valuable eyewitness accounts that have survived in the writings of the authors who, between 1938 and 1940, during the Great Depression, were commissioned by Roosevelt, as part of the Federal Writers Project (in which writers such as Steinbeck and Bellow participated), to interview and record the memories of the granite workers in the city of Barre, Vermont. The texts are now preserved at the Library of Congress in the United States. The people they interviewed, many of whom died of silicosis, are buried at Hope cemetery in Barre, but the memory of their tragic lives is still alive in their descendants. The present inhabitants of Barre enthusiastically accepted the request to collaborate in the making of this film, giving a face and a voice to the ghosts of their ancestors.