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GLI APPUNTI DI ANNA AZZORI – UNO SPECCHIO CHE VIAGGIA NEL TEMPO

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Constanze Ruhm

grade: 8

Gli Appunti di Anna Azzori – Uno Specchio che viaggia nel Tempo is a feature film that is not afraid to take risks, which lets itself be inspired by a successful blending of arts and which, alongside excerpts from Grifi and Sarchielli’s previous work, also features archive footage, various hearing levels and – why not? – even a welcome touch of meta-cinema.

No one remembers her surname…

Anna Azzori. Few people know her by her full name. Yet, many have had the opportunity to meet and love her. She is Anna, the young protagonist of the documentary of the same name by Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli (1975), in which the two directors followed the vicissitudes of a pregnant and homeless 16-year-old girl, met by chance in Piazza Navona, Rome, and later hosted at Sarchielli’s place. A figure, hers, who, together with the aforementioned feature film, can hardly be forgotten. Austrian director Constanze Ruhm knows something about this, and, with her Gli Appunti di Anna Azzori – Uno Specchio che viaggia nel Tempo, which premiered at the Berlinale 2020 in the section Forum, she has brought young Anna back to life in her own way, in a re-elaboration and re-interpretation of her story, the result of in-depth studies both on Grifi and Sarchielli’s documentary and in the archives in Rome.

Not an easy undertaking, this one on which Constanze Ruhm has grappled. And yet, the director, in giving us a real journey into the life of such a fascinating character, felt free to broaden the discourse even further, thus making her – and our – Anna a symbol of the feminist struggle, a mirror of an era seemingly distant to us, but, in reality, much more topical than one might think.

Anna’s voice voices the images of the documentary in which she is the protagonist. What do these men want from her? Why do they film her? Why do they laugh when they talk about her in her absence? A prisoner of a world and a life in which she has been forced to become an adult prematurely, our Anna can do nothing but try to save herself by transforming herself into a tree. Just as happened to the nymph Daphne, so well portrayed, in her time, by master Gian Lorenzo Bernini in his masterpiece Apollo and Daphne. Because, in fact, young and vulnerable Anna is actually like a nymph. A nymph at the mercy of every possible aggressor, who nevertheless struggles with all her might to save herself.

But what face should be given to the girl in Gli Appunti di Anna Azzori – Uno Specchio che viaggia nel Tempo? So, casting begins. About ten girls are auditioned by the director, one after the other. They don’t need to learn texts by heart. On the contrary, the camera simply frames their faces in close-up – complete with voice over describing the character, her habits, desires and passions – and then portrays them, static, light and harmonious like real nymphs in a forest. The girls chosen by Constanze Ruhm are all apparently different. Yet they all – just like the real Anna – have something in common: a clear, innocent gaze, typical of those who have not yet allowed themselves to be “contaminated” by the world’ s brutalities.

Gli Appunti di Anna Azzori – Uno Specchio che viaggia nel Tempo is a feature film that floats as light and free as air. A feature film that is not afraid to take risks, that lets itself be inspired by a successful blending of arts and that, alongside excerpts from Grifi and Sarchielli’s previous work, also features archive footage, various hearing levels – including the voice of a speaker from the imaginary Radio Dafne station – and – why not? – even a welcome touch of meta-cinema concerning, precisely, the casting scenes.

What distinguishes the director Constanze Ruhm is, therefore, above all the courage to dare, together with the ability to create a unique and special film, which is in no way influenced by the importance of the documentary from which it is inspired, but which, on the contrary, defends its own identity, showing a strong personality, without being afraid to go off-topic, subsequently focusing on feminism and the condition of women in the last century. And it is thanks to Gli Appunti di Anna Azzori – Uno Specchio che viaggia nel Tempo that young Anna seems more alive and pulsating than ever. It is thanks to this extraordinary work by Constanze Ruhm that the girl becomes part of our everyday life, our reality, our history.

Original title: Gli Appunti di Anna Azzori – Uno Specchio che viaggia nel Tempo
Directed by: Constanze Ruhm
Country/year: Germany, Austria, France / 2020
Running time: 71’
Genre: experimental
Cast: Kheda Durtaeva, Mona Abdel Baky, Ljubika Jaksic, Hannah Morscher, Cordula Rieger, Sidi Robol, Kadisa Seitinger, Alex Smith, Alisha Svestka, Livia Szankowsky, Law Wallner, Lia Wilfing, Gemma Vannuzzi
Screenplay: Constanze Ruhm
Cinematography: Hannes Böck
Produced by: Constanze Ruhm

Info: the page of Gli Appunti di Anna Azzori – Uno Specchio che viaggia nel Tempo on lafc.at; the page of Gli Appunti di Anna Azzori – Uno Specchio che viaggia nel Tempo on the website of the Berlinale