Hand Gestures

see also

official site


click on the images to download them in high res

Hand Gestures (Il gesto delle mani)

Hand Gestures (Il gesto delle mani)

original title:

Il gesto delle mani

directed by:


Andrea Boccone, Nicolae Ciortan, Mario Conti, Luigi Contino, Simion Marius Costel, Ilaria Cuccagna, Lino De Ponti, Tommaso Rossi, Caled Saad, Antonio Serra, Elia Alunni Tullini, Velasco Vitali



Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, contact: Francesco Clerici ff.clerici@gmail.com





film run:




release date:


festivals & awards:

  • 2morrow / Zavtra Festival 2016: Tomorrow
  • Bergamo Film Meeting 2015: Visti da vicino
  • Berlinale 2015: Forum - Fipresci Prize
  • BFI London Film Festival 2015: Love
  • Cork International Film Festival 2015: Documentary
  • Dok.Fest München 2015: DOK.forum
  • International Film Festival of Uruguay 2015
  • Sarajevo Film Festival 2015: Operation Kino
  • Viennale 2015: Documentaries
  • Docville 2015
  • Valletta Film Festival 2015: Documentary Competition
  • T-Mobile New Horizons IFF 2015: Films on Art International Competition
  • Euganea Film Festival 2015: Concorso Documentari
  • Bellaria Film Festival 2015: Casa Rossa Art Doc
  • Festival Internazionale Cinema di Frontiera Marzamemi 2015: Lampi sul Mediterraneo
  • Mantova Film festival 2015: Documenti & documentari
  • Sciacca Film Festival 2015: Documentaries in Competition
  • Loft Film Festival 2015: Competition
  • Cineteca Nacional de Mexico 2015: Talento Emergente
  • RIDM International Documentary Festival of Montréal 2015: Competition Artifice
  • Minsk International Film Festival Listapad: Out Of Competition / Art
  • International Documentary Film Festival Cinema Off 2015: Competition
  • Cinecity Brighton Film Festival 2015: Art Documentaries
  • ArtFilmFestival Asolo 2015 - Special Mention

This documentary film follows the process of creating one of Velasco Vitali’s famous dog sculptures, from wax to glazed bronze, at the Battaglia Artistic Foundry, in Milan. The film observes the work of a group of skilled artisans in this 100-year old foundry and reveals the ancient traditions of bronze sculpture making, unchanged since the fifth century.
Over the centuries, many technological innovations have come about in art. Yet, even today, in order to create a sculpture in bronze, it is necessary to take the same steps taken in the Fifth century BC for the Riace bronzes. These steps are not taught in school, but are passed on in the ancient oral tradition and through apprenticeships from artisans. This documentary observes and feels the work of the Battaglia Artistic Foundry: a place where the past and present share the same gestures and where each gesture is a sculpture itself. The story of the process will follow the 'birth' of a dog sculpture made by the Italian artist Velasco Vitali. The story of a dog from wax to glazed bronze will show, with the use of archive footage, the historical process of a bronze foundry yesterday and today.
Historic Italian sculptor Giacomo Manzù used to say that the sculpture is a hand gesture, a gesture of love. According to Larry Shiner, Professor of Philosophy, History and Visual Arts at the University of Illinois: 'art, as we understand it normally, is a European invention of just two centuries ago. Involving many hands and many minds, art, however, has always been a matter of collaboration'. These are the two ideas at the core this film, which follows the production of a Velasco Vitali sculpture inside the Battaglia historic artistic foundry, in Milan. Ancient Greeks did not distinguish between art and craft. ‘Techné’ covered both. This is the starting point from which the project has been developed, and we take the point of view of the camera which observes and reveals the process. An artist who sculpts, who works the waxes, is treated in the same way as a craftsman who turns that wax into bronze, building and destroying other ephemeral sculptures: they have been making the same gestures for centuries, and by showing this to the camera they reveal historical “jumps” in time. This requires historic researches on 16mm prints which were shot in the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia and that have not yet been cataloged or archived.

Il Gesto delle Mani wants to be both scientific and (or rather: especially) narrative: it describes the life and work within the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, a historic place in Milan and currently under the management of the FAI - Italian Artistic Foundation-, which looks after historic and artistic sites. This film describes the noise and the passing time of a working day in the foundry. The artisans who work there are depicted only through their work, their faces and their movements.
The process of “giving birth and re-birth” to the dog sculpture, which is the process of the red wax dog turning into the bronze one, is fascinating to me because it looks like an ancient holy ritual in an old church. An abstract gospel to life and to birth.
This journey is possible thanks to these artisan’s culture, knowledge and love of their craft. As the Italian historical sculptor Giacomo Manzù once said, «Sculpture is not a concept. Sculpture is the hand gesture. A gesture of love. In the gesture of the body lays the relationship with the world, the way you see it, the way you feel it, the way you own it».
post scriptum
This documentary is 77minutes long, the process is about 77 hour long: 1 minutes of film is 1 hour of “real” work on the sculpture.