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,
Casablanca is an ongoing project.