ABOUT THE FILM
Watch the BALENTES trailer/ Guarda il trailer di BALENTES:
Sardinian-Australian anthropologist, Lisa Camillo, returns home to discover the beautiful island paradise of her childhood has been torn apart by war games setting her on a journey to expose the truth and join the islanders fight to reclaim their land and livelihoods and in doing so learning about herself and her roots.
One Page Synopsis:
Set in Australia and the Italian island of Sardinia, Balentes is a feature documentary that weaves together a personal journey of belonging with the disturbing revelation of secret military incursions and the destruction and suffering caused to a small community.
Lisa Camillo is an anthropologist and filmmaker based in Sydney, Australia. During her work helping Indigenous youths in detention, she witnesses an Indigenous elder brings shoeboxes filled with dirt for the youths to step in and feel connected with their homeland.
Lisa’s mind turns to her own family and home, and feeling restless, she decides it’s time for her to return home to Sardinia. Inspired by her anthropological studies she begins making a documentary about the island’s unique history and how it became the playground paradise for the rich and famous after being discovered by a Saudi Prince, the Aga Khan.
Instead, upon her return, Lisa is shocked to learn from her parents the truth of what’s been happening in her childhood paradise.
For the past 50 years or so Sardinia has been used as the testing ground for the US and NATO military. Her documentary now needs to change into an investigation of Sardinian’s past decades to unearth the reasons behind the pain and intolerable suffering and poverty that are now prevalent among the Sardinian people.
As Lisa begins to investigate these claims, she realises there is a side to Sardinia of which she is completely unaware. What has happened to the place of her childhood? Is it still her home?
The tension rises as she learns of these catastrophic historic events that have impacted profoundly on the lives of ordinary people, leading at the climax to the staging of an event in the historic town of Orgosolo, famous because it once stood up against the military. Lisa decides to stage an event to commemorate, and hopes to find that the people with whom she has come to reconnect with still have that strong inner spirit the Sardinians are known for throughout history.
Set in Australia and the Italian island of Sardinia, Balentes is a feature documentary that weaves together a personal journey of belonging and loss of innocence with the disturbing revelation of secret military incursions and the destruction and suffering caused to a small community.
Lisa Camillo is an anthropologist who has lived in Australia for 15 years, having left her birthplace of Sardinia to live in Australia, the country of her father. The ‘curse’ of having one foot in two countries was always present for Lisa, but it wasn’t until she witnessed a beautiful tradition during her anthropology work that Lisa’s yearning to return home was ignited.
In the dusty detention centre of Wagga, an Indigenous elder brings shoeboxes filled with dirt from the home country of the incarcerated youths. To step into the box is to feel the comfort of their own earth beneath their feet. A powerful longing for connection to her own roots and family makes Lisa decide to return to Sardinia – believing that this island on the other side of the world is her real home.
Balentes explores this deep, inner connection to one’s homeland and poses the question: what makes us connect to our land?
What would we do to protect it?
Lisa’s decision to return also prompts her to begin a documentary on a subject she’s always been fascinated by: the fabulous history of Sardinia and its adoption by a Saudi Prince, the Aga Khan. Sardinia as the world knows it, and how Lisa remembers it, is the immeasurably beautiful island populated with tourist resorts and beaches, a playground for the rich and famous. The world sees only the azure oceans, the yachts, and marvels at the agrarian traditions and diet that is studied to understand the secrets of the long lives and great health supposedly enjoyed by them. It’s also where her parents met when they worked for the Prince, a life of celebrities, parties and beauty. Lisa is overjoyed to be home and to commence work on this documentary; however, things quickly take a different direction.
Far from being excited for Lisa to return to Sardinia, her parents are worried. They question her decision to leave Australia. The island is not safe, they tell her, and there is poison, corruption and exploitation, all because of military plundering by the US and NATO, after Sardinia was effectively pimped out to both organisations by the Italian government.
As Lisa begins to investigate these claims, she realises there is a side to Sardinia of which she is completely unaware. What has happened to the place of her childhood? Is it still her home? Her research reveals the very tragic, traumatic circumstances under which the Sardinian people have been living for the past fifty or so years.
She goes on a road trip across her island home as she searches for answers to what has been happening, filming interviews with scientists, activists, politicians and local people. Through archival footage, family history and visiting many of the affected areas, she unravels the horrible actions against her homeland, the poverty and sickness, the turmoil. At the same time she is learning about herself, reflecting on why she had wanted to leave this island, and whether she still has the spirit of the Sardinian people inside her.
This film is at its heart an exploration into the reality of many local Sardinians lives, the pain behind the paradise. They have endured tremendous suffering as a result of years of exploitation by governments, both domestic and international. Lisa experiences a deep connection with her homeland during the making of the documentary. She learns along with the audience that the beautiful innocent memories of her childhood home have been shattered, and the people have been losing all hope for a future for Sardinia, overwhelmed by the military invasion and its legacy. They have become used to despair. This leads to the climax of the film where Lisa organizes a recreation of a famous rally in Sardinia’s history, where the local people stood together to face down a military invasion.
Despite a community fractured by misfortune and sadness, Lisa continues, testing her faith in the island. Her personal journey culminates with the success of the march, and the revelation that Sardinians, despite being taken over and suffering, are still, deep inside, a proud and defiant people who are prepared to fight for their land.
Recent victories by the people against the military, which have occurred since the filming began, add to this sense of renewed hope. The character-driven story will be enriched by dramatic musical scores and stunning cinematography in 4K, combined with compelling archival footage and photographs under narration, to tell the director’s personal point of view story.
The narration, written and spoken by Lisa, is reflective, melodic and poetic, in English with an Italian inflection. Her voice allows the audience into her thoughts as they learn of her story and the history of the island, then of the tragedy, and to finally join in the uplifting climax where hope is restored, made even more beautiful by the traditional throat singers soundtrack.
Meet Our Protagonists, Our Balentes...
BALENTES è un documentario che racconta la Sardegna di oggi in modo obiettivo e disincantato, senza nascondere le sue gravi difficoltà, le speranze e fallimenti della sua storia recente. Proiettato in anteprima nei più importanti film festival internazionali contemporanei, tra cui Cannes, Tribeca (NY), Sundance Film Festival,La Biennale di Venezia, Festival di Berlino, BALENTES porta all’attenzione del pubblico internazionale, il caso emblematico della Sardegna, isola unica al mondo e territorio vassallo per eredità storica.
Ricchissima di risorse appetibili, di bellezze naturali e tradizioni genuine rimaste intatte nei secoli proprio grazie al suoi isolamento, oggi è impoverita e ridotta alla fame da speculazioni e scelte sbagliate. E’ un caso esemplare, di cui il film mette in luce i meccanismi più eclatanti, non senza cercare, con interviste e proiezioni, prospettive di futura prosperità.
Per BALENTES e' stata usata la cinepresa RED EPIC, di altissima risoluzione, 4K, usata nelle produzioni holliwoodiane, ma tecnologia ancora rara in Italia ed in Sardegna.