Programmed by Daniela Persico
For centuries, every September 8th, myriad swarms of flying ants have arrived on the Monte delle Formiche. Like clouds obscuring the sky, the small insects mate during a dazzling flight before the males all die, dropping exhausted in front of the church built high on the mountain that used to be known as “Santa Maria Formicarum”. The nuptial flight glitters like an ecstatic apparition before the eyes of the curious, the tourists and the faithful who flock there every year to admire and celebrate the festival devoted to “Our Lady of the Ants”. The film opens with this event and examines the nature of these insects – and of human beings.
“Nature has no past or future… the present is her eternity… I praise her and all her works” – the quotation is the key to approaching this film that portrays the precariousness of the cinematographic act as well as its capacity to give us an eternal present. In this ethnographic study based on the mating ritual of flying ants that’s marked generations of locals and curious tourists, space is given to the scenery (as it was in “Brasimone”, the author’s earlier documentary), explored in its folds and wrinkles and gradual evolution as though it were the face of an actor. Suspended between the enigmatic charm of Franco Piavoli’s cinema and the distancing of the camera’s movements to emphasise a tension inherent in the landscape, the documentary uses the grainy analogue film to establish a new position as a viewer, suspended somewhere between memory and modernity.
Programmer and critic