project by Will Kwan, Isabel Andreu Roglá
& the boys of Casa Blanca, Zimone

with the collaboration of:
Cooperativa Sociale Anteo, Associazione Interculturale Welcome, Cooperativa Valdocco Intermedia, Ufficio Stranieri di Torino

project in progress, initiated at Unidee 2004

Casablanca, 2004- is a collaborative project that combines audio-visual media workshops, documentary video production, intercultural education, research, and the creation of social and communication-based tactical media. The program functions simultaneously as a laboratory to provide participants with access to technological tools and new skills while working to link social institutions to create new alliances and social spaces.

The project began with our interest and research into issues of immigration in the context of northern Italy, with a particular focus on the situation in Torino. Inspired by exchange space of Porta Palazzo, we started with the open-ended idea to use the 1942 Michael Curtiz film Casablanca as a filter for examining the contemporary realities of migration in Torino and in Europe in general.

Our research put us in contact with cultural mediators in the Ufficio di Stranieri in Torino and in the city of Biella which ultimately brought us to the door of Casablanca detention center in Zimone, a small community created by the social services of the region (Piemonte, Aosta, Lombardia) for underage youth. The current residents have come from Morocco, Romania, Chile, Croatia, and elsewhere.

The project will proceed in several phases beginning with the development of workshops for the Casablanca boys involving video and new media technology, acting techniques, and visual storytelling skills. These workshops will be guided by themes expressed in
the complex social spaces represented in the film, such as Rick’s bar. Through this process we will be generating, in collaboration with the boys, content and ideas for the realization of a film that combines fictional material created in the workshops with documentary footage about the entire process of the project, realities about contemporary immigration, and issues associated with the territory of Biella.

Our ongoing research for this project has also put us in connection with the city of Biella’s plans to transform the former prison in the Piazzo into a youth hostel for the 2006 Olympics in Torino. We see a strong conceptual link between the transition of the ex-prison into a youth hostel and the transition that the boys make from Casablanca into so-called “regular” society. We also see in the radically different experiences of movement represented by illegal youth and youth tourism, a reality that speaks about the globalization of economics and society. This link opens up the possibility of a second phase of the project that we wish to arrive at down the road, that involves making an official proposal to the Comune di Biella to realize a project with Casa Blanca (Zimone) for the new hostel. This phase of the project is crucial as it enables the creation of a practical relation between the cooperativo that runs Casablanca and the association that will eventually manage the hostel. By linking these cooperatives, we are looking build new relationships that could provide opportunities to the residents of Casablanca, opportunities that can be cultural, economic, or social.

Casablanca is an ongoing project.

For further information or materials relating this project write to