'Un Milione di Italiani (Non Sono Italiani)' is a musical documentary by Maurizio Braucci on Italy's Ius Soli citizenship law. Fatima Mbengue and Sara Vanderwert, Italian daughters of foreign citizens, sing in the film.
Italy's controversial Ius Soli law, which grants citizenship to those born in Italy to foreign parents and who have lived most of their lives in the country only once they turn 18, is the focus of a musical documentary by Maurizio Braucci.
The short film 'Un Milione di Italiani [Non Sono Italiani]' [One Million Italians [Are not Italians]] was shot in Italy's southern port city of Naples with the protagonists Fatima Mbengue and Sara Vanderwert, whose parents are from Senegal and Sri Lanka.
The film was selected by the jury of the twentieth edition of Alice nella Città, an independent side festival of Rome's Festa del Cinema. It was screened on November 9 at MedFilm Festival in the Italian capital.
Against a backdrop of a Naples which is traditionally inclusive and with the voices of the two young women, both musicians, the short film revolves around the moment when a letter arrives informing them that they -- having turned 18 -- have acquired citizenship.
Fatima, 18, is shown as she gets the letter, while 25-year-old Sara instead relives such a decisive moment when her younger brother gets it.
Their different reactions are expressed through music.
'Battle to change Ius Soli will be won'
"Ius Soli is a restrictive measure. My project sprung from investigative work and helps to reflect on a political issue. In making this musical documentary, I went into the issue in-depth and I realised how much I did not know. I hope that those who do not have an opinion or are against [granting citizenship to those born in Italy], by watching this work can understand how foolish the current law is," Braucci told ANSA.
"My story goes beyond cliches, seeing second generation immigrants act only within working-class environments. I wanted to deal with their lives beyond the issue of citizenship but the youths reminded me that I had not experienced their difficult conditions and the problems that caused so much suffering. I believe that the battle against this law will be won, because Ius Soli does not express the reality of the many youths born and who grew up in Italy. I hope that this happens soon, since meanwhile second generation immigrants continue to experience numerous restrictions of basic rights," he said.
Frustration of a condition and music as a 'shield'
"The short film was shot in the period in which I risked losing Italian citizenship, which was requested late due to several problems in Senegal," Mbengue told ANSA after the screening.
"It is a horrible thing to feel Italian since birth but not be one. They give you a permit to stay, sure - but it is not the same thing. Perhaps it expires and then you cannot take a school trip with your classmates. The truth is that you can feel Italian but until you see it written on a piece of paper, you aren't one," she added.
"Only recently did I realize how much music helped me, perhaps like a shield," Vanderwert told ANSA.
"I was only a person who sang and nothing else. Music helped me to identify myself in something that was truly mine and helped me to reappropriate myself, getting rid of the frustrations inherent in my condition, since it enabled me to concentrate on something else."