Alien Food (second feature)

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Alien Food

Alien Food

Alien Food

original title:

Alien Food

directed by:


Giorgio Cugno, Victoria Mannoni, Nathalie Francone, Gabriele Rossi (II), Giulia Mercandino, Simonetta Ainardi, Massimo Valz Brenta, Maria Luisa Macchia, Gianmario Marras, Giovanni Foresti, Fabrizio Rosso, Antonio Fais, Lorena Taricco, Ugo Zamburru, Giampiero Abate, Loredana Fichera, Enrico Rambaud, Domenico Gerbaudo, Elyas Archillia, Vincenzo Leuzzi



Igor Nogougic

set design:

costume design:




Ganglio Film, Nordic Factory, with the support of Media-Europa Creativa, TFL - Torino Film Lab, Fondazione CRF, Film Commission Torino Piemonte





film run:





Ready (10/01/2023)

festivals & awards:

Who are we – when nobody is watching?
What are our fantasies and phobias – if we don’t share them?
After many years in a protected psychiatric community, Alberto (40) comes to stay with Vicky’s (12) family. As a vulnerable adult, Alberto divides his time between his old therapeutic community, his work, and adapting to the rhythms and boundaries of his new ‘home’.
Alberto silently tries to escape his pharmacological therapy by not taking his pills. For years, they have helped him control his “demons”, but they have also overshadowed his instincts and emotions. Vicky loves science fiction and is very different from her peers. In her world, alien, distant planets are something to discover. Vicky notices that Alberto hides his pills at the dinner table, so Alberto shares this secret for the first time. From this moment on, their bond grows stronger.
Alberto works part-time at a place that collects old PCs and electronics, recovering and recycling them. Here, he secretly saves private images and video files on his own hard drive, glimpses of other people’s lives that become Alberto’s personal “social network”, making him feel less alone. As these glimpses begin to merge with his own imagination and visions of the new world he inhabits, Alberto’s daily life becomes more difficult to navigate.
Vicky shares her studies of the neighbouring mountain with him, the summit of Mount Musiné, which she considers as magical. As Vicky’s storytelling supports Alberto in his quiet revolt, she and the mountain will lead him to confront reality, and perhaps for the last time, the ghosts that were buried by his state of chemical numbness for so many years - starting from the horizon that he would like to, but cannot, cross.
Can their friendship of reality and fantasy co-exist, without posing true danger to both Alberto and Vicky?

My first contact with a therapeutic community dates back to 2007 when I did a writing workshop there. It did not take me long to understand that the real walls of such places are not those of the building, but the outside, thicker, relational barriers made up of stereotypes and prejudice. I made friends there and the story world of ALIEN FOOD started to take shape. Many of these friends also play in the film.
The narrative structure is based on the figure of Alberto, so his character was very important to develop. I devoted about 2 years to this, modifying myself, physically and psychologically, so I could ‘become’ Alberto.
I also spent more time in the therapeutic community where my new friends opened up their lives to me, helped me with their suggestions, hoping that Alberto would be their spokesperson.
I deeply believe that in the telling of some stories, fiction is able to define an inbetween space through which reality can best be told, without exploiting the lives it is based on; that’s why this is not a documentary.
The narrative world of ALIEN FOOD manifests on several levels, like the layers of Alberto's consciousness. His old phobia about climate change that contributed to his initial psychological rift is not just a figment of his nightmares anymore. The lives of the people that Alberto observes on his computer become his own social network where he is in control of everything. He can follow them without having to reveal his own life, feeling protected, yet at the same time, not alone.
As Alberto reworks the connections between himself and the outside world, his imagination starts to fill the gaps. Escaping the chemical control of his pills while dealing with his own fragility makes the current changes in society more clearly visible to him.
The relationship between reality and fiction, as embodied in Alberto, also defines the film’s aesthetics and cinematography.
The images are close to reality, hand held, using sometimes tripod or steady cam, creating only a few distinct visual effects, as Alberto’s mind starts to play tricks on him, so as to be able to increasingly merge his inner reality with the images and videos from his file collection.
Sound is also key to me and I have created an ambience of Alberto’s world. Imagine a sort of underground magma that moves by crawling inside him, as if under the surface of the narrative, and using as little music as possible.
The themes of control and of neurocapitalism and the relative capitalisation of the emotions that connect us to each other, is inspired by how more and more people end up in psychiatric therapy. If the numbers continue at this rate, by 2030 psychiatric pathologies will be the biggest cause of death worldwide, more than cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Alberto is one of these sensitive people, crushed by his own phobias, fleeing the control imposed by society, needing to control his thoughts and emotions to take back his life. Making an audience perceive the world through his eyes is my way of bringing attention to what is happening around us, and to give a voice to the multitude of people I have seen – through my volunteer work – that enter psychiatric therapy and never get out.
From the horizon to a dead bee ‘resting’ in snow crystals, from joyful trampoline jumps to uncomfortable visions of leeches sucking his blood, Alberto’s journey of body, mind, chemicals, pixels, friendship and prejudice, is one of hope and pain, joy and fear, one I hope to immerse audiences in and start a wider dialogue about.
Coming out from my own immersive journey, being Alberto for longer than anticipated, due to Covid, we are now opening up his world and I can’t wait to share this story along with the voices of those, who put their trust in me and in Alberto.