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I Had a Dream- Claudia Tosi’s Success story

Alexia Muiños Ruiz
Alexia Muiños Ruiz

Claudia Tosi Had a Dream which has become a film

Claudia Tosi is an alumna of the Multiple Revenue Stream Training course that EWA Network organized in 2015/16. She attended the programme with an ambitious project titled I Had a Dream. She was an outstanding alumna who successfully found out how to put into practice the marketing & distribution new tools she learned and she was certainly  a determined talented filmmaker, as her new film proves.   We are thrilled with her .

 

Logline: Manuela and Daniela dream to change their country, Italy, and make of it a non corrupt and women-friendly country, but meet the harsh reality. From the feminist fights against Berlusconi to the last elections of 2018, the film explores the last ten years of Italy through the political action and the everyday life of two compelling protagonists, witnessing the weakness of democracy and raise of populism.

I Had a Dream by Claudia Tosi, 2018 (Ita-Fra)

Produced by Movimenta in co-production with Cosmographe  in association with France Télévisions with the support of Emilia-Romagna Film Commission.

Awards:

Dok Leipzig 2018 - Golden Dove for the Best International Documentary; FIPRESCI PRIZE;  AWARD of the Interreligious Jury

Biografilm (Jun 2019) Bologna, Italy - Audience Award

Festivals:

DocPoint (Jan 2019) Helsinki, Finland

ZagrebDox (Mar 2019) Zagreb, Croatia

Tempo Film Festival (Mar 2019) Stockholm, Sweden

One World Romania (Mar 2019) Bucharest, Romania

Magnificent 7 (Apr 2019) Belgrade, Serbia

HotDocs (Apr 2019) Toronto, Canada

Crossing Europe (Apr 2019) Linz, Austria

DocsBarcelona (May 2019) Barcelona, Spain

DOXA (May 2019) Vancouver, Canada

Why did you make your film?

In 2008, when I heard that a woman from my little town was running for the Italian Parliament, I thought I had the chance to make a film about politics from inside, through a personal story, showing the side of politics that we never see on TV. Back then, we thought that election would have been epoch changing and that Berlusconi would have been defeated for good. But we were wrong, Berlusconi won. I thought I had not enough material to make a film, so I went on shooting and following my characters. My European colleagues seemed very interested in my film, specially because there weren’t any about female Italian politicians and because it was not known if and how Italian women were reacting to Berlusconi’s politics, misogyny and paternalism. Few years later, in 2011, the biggest Italian women’s movement, IF NOT NOW WHEN?!, was born and one of my two protagonists was one of the co-founders. I decided to include also that narrative line in the film. In the meantime, the economical crisis devastated Italy, the political world was blown over by winds of anti-politics and my protagonists where between the hammer and the anvil. At that point it was clear that the bigger picture of the film was the transformation of the political landscape, the crisis of representative democracy and the rise of populism. I could see it clearly and I accomplished the 10 years process of shooting at the last political election, when 70% of voters gave their preference to populist parties.

Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?

In Belgrade, Serbia, a spectator came to me and said: “Thank you for this film. This is the first Italian Film about Serbia shot in Italy. I hope it will open people’s eyes”. What she was saying is that the situation the film is depicting is not specific of Italy but universal. Democracy is facing its weakness during our times. Nevertheless, the film shows signs of hope, thank to politicians like Manuela and Daniela, brave, strong, honest and competent women who challenge their times with passion for the sake of their country and citizens. This message has been grasped by most of spectators, who, after seeing the film, have expressed to be willing to do their best to act against the state of things. I have received many messages and emails of women who mirrored themselves in the film and who felt inspired by my protagonists. Manuela and Daniela’s fight makes people who are politically active feel less alone. The film shows a universal situation, sadly, but tries to offer solutions and to gather people who have the common goal to protect democracy, equality and freedom.

How do personal and universal themes work in your film?

The film unfolds everyday personal and political life of Manuela and Daniela. Conflicts break out all the time, like when Daniela is doing some chemo treatments and engages in a very hard discussions with nurses about the distrust in politicians; or when Manuela, facing voters, is attacked despite her hard work. The spectator feels their strain, their raising disenchantment and emotional suffering, scene after scene. Conflicts break out and Manuela and the Daniela are in the middle of the storm. The whole film is framed in a meta-cinema construction. Manuela and Daniela are asked to sit in a movie theatre, what the movie of their last 10 years and reflect on their adventure. Their reaction is authentic and provides a deeper look into what they went through.

 

How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?

Along the ten years of shooting and constant rewriting, the film has achieved a wider meaning. The feminist fight unfolds in a wider picture which depicts the crisis of representative democracy and the rise of populism. Along the process, what has never changed is my positive judgement of their commitment and action. Year after year, my trust in politics was rising and also my awareness as a citizen. I feel there is hope and, despite their rising disenchantment, I wanted the message of hope to be in the film. The structure has changed, some scenes were cut, others added, but the theme was always the same, we have to keep fighting despite the achievements or the failures, that is the only way to preserve democracy. Somehow we have to learn to see political and social achievements not as a personal goal, as the criterium to evaluate our action or career, but as a collective purpose. Our role is to carry the baton the best we can and handle it to others. It can be frustrating, I know, but changes happen in such a long time than frustration is inevitable, so we must consider it as part of the adventure.

What type of feedback have you received so far?

The film is travelling a lot from festival to festival. It is travelling through Europe and it has landed in North America. People mirrors themselves, take inspiration, admire these two brave and strong women and wish there were more people of that kind in their countries, no matter what party. We are not used to see strong women in politics, but there are many, shadowed by their male colleagues. I Had a Dream wants give a stage to women in politics. We need women’s view for a more equal society. After the screenings, there are never ending Q&As about the contents of the film, and it is great to hear the enthusiasm of people. It seems that what we are facing in Italy is shared by men and women all around the world. Some viewers write to me and want to keep in touch.

Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?

Feedbacks have surprised me in a good way. I could not imagine that such a simple movie about a very local and personal story could be read as being so universal. Many spectators have expressed the hope that I would continue following the protagonists or digging into the world of politics with a sort of a sequel. Manuela and Daniela would kill me. I think 10 years with a camera on their back is enough. But our post-truth era might deserve a deeper look. Let’s see.

What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?

I am aware that films cannot change the world but they can help create the atmosphere and the cultural environment, which make changes possible. This is what I hope for my film, to be a humble tool for raising awareness, create networks and spread hope. I also hope it will inspire filmmakers in engaging in what they think it matters. We can make important films also with very low budgets, as in my case.

Say few words about the development of the film.

During the 10 years of work, I have attended several workshops to improve the dramaturgical structure of the film and strengthen its international appeal.

I have developed the film through several training programs, Eurodoc, Berlinale Talens (Doc Station) and EWA Network’s Multiple Reveneu Stream Training Programme. My main concern was the international appeal and the connection with current times. In the beginning, financers seemed not interested in a feminist story and in the very complicated Italian political landscape, but I did not want to sacrifice these lines so I needed to see my film through the eyes of a competent audience, my international colleagues, in order to strengthen the international appeal of the film and work on the weaknesses. At EWA’s training program I have explored how to build my audience. At the time of the workshop I was already distributing my previous film, so I could practice what I learnt. I will apply the same model for I Had a Dream: a website, the help of social media and a very accurate work on targeting audiences. Having won a A-rank festival (Golden Dove at DokLeipzig), I Had a Dream will run for the Oscar. I am considering to build a very unconventional low budget campaign to promote the film in the States. The idea is to develop a model that could be sharable by other filmmakers, since the Oscar campaign is incredibly expensive. This is still an idea, I have to think about it, but what I learnt at EWA’s workshop is that sometimes crazy ideas give unexpected results.

Maybe it will be a failure, I don’t now, but I think it is worth trying and then share the results with the community of filmmakers I am a member of.

EWA Network supported me not only providing me tools for marketing the film but also sharing with me the idea that we needed another feminist movie, despite the logic of TV slots. I didn’t feel alone and also my co-producer was energized by our EWA’s colleagues. EWA selected my project for Dok Leipzig’s pitching of 2017 and the visibility the project had triggered a lot of interest. Right after the pitching, indeed, my co-producer involved France 3 in the co-production, and this is how we finally were able to close the production.

HotDocs was present at the pitching in Leipzig and manifested their interest. We were very excited because of this. When DoK Leipzig selected I Had a Dream for the International Competition and HotDocs for the Canadian Premiere, we were incredibly happy and grateful for all the support we had received.

Magnificent 7 - Review

Do you have an attitude? Do you have ideas? Do you have a vision? Do you have a dream? These are the questions posed by the winner of the “Golden Dove” and the FIPRESCI (The International Federation of Film Critics) award of the great European festival in Leipzig, which, in its title, paraphrases the famous sentence at the beginning of Martin Luther King’s speech.

Claudia Tosi, a dedicated Italian author and filmmaker, devotedly followed two remarkable women for ten years, two spirited compatriots, Manuela and Daniela, in their activities and fights for ideas, values and dreams. In constant movement, from place to place, from one event to another, from one significant social change to another, these two charismatic women activists show us the strength, endurance and persistence, the energy they selflessly put into each of their gestures, words and thoughts. Motivated by sincere needs to change and enrich their surroundings, they begin to fight and encourage others to take part in making changes. As self-declared spokespersons for women’s rights, from being ordinary citizens they become politicians – Manuela as a member of the Italian parliament, Daniela active in her own town, and they readily face the traditional prejudices and intolerance. Constantly turned to requisitioning the fundamental social, Italian and European values, Manuela and Daniela do not give up, not even during the toughest moments, above all, aware of the great responsibility which they have been entrusted with. Nevertheless, the world keeps changing dramatically, bringing along big dilemmas and doubts with these changes.

With a magnificent documentary idea, in the style of the best cinéma verité, the author, Claudia Tosi who herself, it seems, in time, became part of the struggle she is dynamically documenting, poses her documentary in front of the two protagonists as a sort of a mirror. In the darkness of the movie theatre “I Had a Dream” gains its exciting cinematic layer. The magic of the movies, the magic of mirrors, which makes everything more realistic and greater than life, provokes and inspires the protagonists to comment and criticise themselves, in a humorous, emotional and brisk way. The testimony of time, people and actions turned into a cinematic event becomes a living, present actor.