Ten Just-So Stories is the saga of a country ravaged by corruption and rampant criminality, but one still capable of offering uplifting surprises. It’s a journey through an Italy in the thrall of metamorphosis. The main movers and shakers are such entities as cultural associations, agricultural enterprises, radio stations, and restaurants that spring up thanks to property confiscated from organized crime. They also include schools, theaters, and other businesses that become unique and essential reference points in neighborhoods that would otherwise experience only a sense of abandonment and the most terrible degradation. The main characters are professors, journalists, and administrators who refuse to hear in the word “commitment” the slightest echo of hopelessness.
Ten Just-So Stories debuted at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 2012, as a quasi-contemporary work. The performance has become a vibrant tool for investigation, but also for social transformation. The documentary shows us men and women who are fully aware of the risks, but who refuse to give up in the face of fear. From Lombardy to Sicily, the actors meet the actual people living these stories, and then, on stage, deliver back the full meaning of their courageous choices.
2011 to 2017 were six crucial years. We met relatives of the victims of organized crime, as well as our modern heroes and heroines who are working to take down the crime syndicates. We met the young people who have committed themselves to using the goods and properties retrieved from the mafias and transform them to serve socially useful economic activities. We have spent time in the schools where the teachers work hard to keep their students informed and to get them involved. We were there at the inauguration of a theater in an at-risk neighborhood in Naples, and we also got to know 20-year-old journalists who are not afraid to tell the truth and name names. We went to juvenile prisons, and we know that at least some of those kids will break free of the horror into which they were born. From the very beginning, we realized that it was critical to preserve the living memory of these experiences, and so we took cameras with us, capturing hours and hours of filmed documentation. From that, came the desire to transform this material into a choral theater piece, without vaunting individual personalities or lead actors. We tried to find out if the mafias that have even colonized the north have done so across the board (through rigged contracts, extortion, blackmail, corruption of local administrators, drug trafficking, waste management), or if there is still a healthy infrastructure that resists and reacts. We started very simply: on a minibus, with notebooks in hand, in the hope of being able to return and declare, “All is not lost”.
Many of the people we met had had their moment of visibility, perhaps in the local press, but each and every one has never ceased to focus on his or her mission. Our goal was to put it all together into an interwoven drama, to fit the pieces in place, to build up a network of active resistance – beyond individual personalities or leaders.
We present the documentary, in utter simplicity, fearlessly employing various tools: reportage, filmed excerpts, and above all theater, which possesses the extraordinary power of synthesis.
Our intent is not to focus on messages and good intentions; we simply want to counteract, in our own way, the tendency to highlight the worst in society – which leads to the risk of identification, to the increasingly dangerous emulation of malignant “models”.
The press, the stage, radio and television, cinema, and the internet, all share a huge responsibility: to transmit a vision of what our families no longer seem able to provide: good role models.