La Napoli di mio padre
Valentina Bellè, Giuseppe Bottone
Giuseppe looked out at the horizon as if there was something there that he longed for, as if there was something there that would set him free. As a young girl, his daughter, Alessia (director), had seen him gazing out of the window day after day, always wondering what was there, what held his attention so firmly.
Some years later, during a journey back to Naples, her father’s birthplace, Alessia finds herself observing her father once again. Now too, to her eyes Giuseppe is always in profile, and while the landscape slides past beyond the frame of the train’s window, he tries to grasp every moment with his gaze, tries to capture them and save them from the fast-flowing river of time.
Her father describes his Napoli and his childhood in the Vicaria neighbourhood, surrounded by the migrants who crowded the station, Nanninella, Don Mario and his friend Napoleone with whom he used to explore the city, two taralli in his pocket and a head full of dreams. Giuseppe’s story also centres on themes of escape and the fear of the unknown, which ties the Italian emigrants of the twentieth century, cardboard suitcases in tow, to the boats of migrants arriving on the shores of southern Italy today.
As the train devours the tracks, mile after mile, Alessia begins to understand what her father was thinking and seeing when he looked out of the window: his memories. And so, the return to Naples becomes an opportunity to get to know her origins, and to tell the story of a life.
Because however far we go, we always come back to where it all began.