Auditorium - DAMSLab > 16:45

Essere donne

Cecilia Mangini
Introduced by

Cecilia Mangini


Friday 28/06/2019


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

As is always the case with works that constituted a powerful experience and a discovery of an existential nature, I remain very close to Essere donne. In this case, the experience was that of the factory, and within the factory the production line, the compartmentalisation, the short timescales, the confirmation of Gramsci’s teachings on Fordism. The discovery was that of the women ‘worked’ by the factory, of peasant work, of families, of their relationship to their hopeless situation, in the initial moment of their (and my) confused questioning of the need for change.
In the 50s and 60s, the factory was a hot – sometimes red-hot – topic at the heart of the concerns, diagnoses and prophecies of leftwing culture. Entering a factory with my much-loved Arryflex was my dream, and it couldn’t have been more remote, or more forbidden. […]
Finally, the opportunity came in the spring of 1964. For the elections, Unitelefilm asked Italian leftwing filmmakers to investigate fully a collective, social problem, rather than simply and uselessly trumpeting Communist Party propaganda. For the section on women’s work, they called me in via delle Botteghe Oscure. […]
Everywhere, in both the north and the south, I met women convinced that they would be saved by the economic independence they were seeking. I, too, believed it. I, too, clung to this simple, linear, consolatory conviction. However, reality is complex, convoluted and of­fers little satisfaction. For the first time my “look around, listen, think” ran up against the “look around, listen, think” of other women.
I discovered that women are restless, often openly dissatisfied with the existential burden that weighs upon them, and secretly driven to understand what is not working and how to free themselves of the endless penalties imposed on them since their childhood. A full awareness of the system that penalises them – its causes, its reasons – is still lacking. The women are unconsciously still only becoming complete women.
This embryonic situation applies to me; it applies to all of us; it even applies to those who refuse to grow. It is undoubtedly down to hindsight and to a contemporary reading of Essere donne that I now believe that I was instinctively driven to identify myself with all of them – entering into the film as an olive-picker in Apulia or as a weaver at the loom in the north.

Cecilia Mangini

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Felice Chilanti. F.: Luciano Graffigna. M.: Marco Menenti. Mus.: Egisto Macchi. Prod.: Unitelefilm. DCP. D.: 28’. Bn.