Of Domes and Robes: Come il culto si fa casa. An Ethnographic Short Film on freedom of worship and the rights to the city

Of Domes and Robes: Come il culto si fa casa.

An Ethnographic Short Film on freedom of worship and the rights to the city

Pic.1 Film First Look.jpg

Pic.1_Film First Look!

As anticipated on our social media, a first-time cinematic project is in progress @HOMInG, aiming to add visibility and participation to our exploration of home and migration. Suturing the gap between research and cinematography, Sara Bonfanti has joined forces with Wajahat Abbas Kazmi in order to produce an original documentary movie on houses of worship set up by South Asians resettled in northern Italy.

Sara’s interest for visual ethnography and community reportage peaked after training in filmmaking with Spectacle multimedia agency, London. When she met Wajahat during a conference on ‘honour crimes’, she realised it was high time to go beyond words and turn her ideas into photograms. Wajahat is an Italian filmmaker and Human Rights activist of Pakistani origin who works in collaboration with Amnesty International. Among the founders of  “Il Grande Colibri” NGO, he fights alongside LGBT people in the Muslim world and makes films on social issues. See his official site here: https://www.wajahatkazmi.it/

Pic.2 Wajahat Abbas Kazmi.jpg

Pic.2_Wajahat Abbas Kazmi, profile picture

Building upon Sara’s HOMInG fieldwork in super-diverse urban neighbourhoods, this movie will stage the overhauling of a Hindu mandir, a Muslim masjid and a Sikh gurdwara, capturing the cooperative and conflictual relations among clergy, devotees and various society stakeholders. Engaging key informants with their material religion will reveal through images and sounds what kind of homemaking in a codified holy place is made licit for long-term migrant communities. Which bodies, rituals and symbolic thresholds can turn a warehouse into the home of God? Though fast-forwarding cities, Brescia and Milan are representative of the national struggle to accommodate ethno-religious minorities, among secular and sacred debates over city planning and civic integration. May the establishment of worship houses enact a ‘sacred re-grounding’ of other religions in Europe? Do temples make community homes for South Asians in Italy?

Pic.3 Fieldwork in an Italian Gurdwara.jpg

Pic.3_Sara’s fieldwork in an Italian Gurdwara (Flero, BS)

At the interstice between art production and social impact, Sara and Wajahat believe in filmmaking as a tool for conducting ethnographic investigation as well as a medium for presenting academic knowledge to broader audiences. As co-directors, they are developing a reflexive exercise on participatory visual research and cinematic co-production, taking care of all phases from screenwriting to final editing. This documentary is the first of an ideal trilogy that may take us next to the UK and the Netherlands. By now, recces are being conducted in selected locations across Brescia and Milan, through a network of committed informants. Shooting will start early next year, ranging from interviews to live actions, included everyday prayer, community activities and seasonal celebrations such as Muslim Shab-e-Mi’raj, Hindu Holi, Sikh Vaisakhi.

More info will follow as soon as the first footage is ready to share. Editing shall take place over the summer, and the final product will be screened in Trento next autumn. Besides entering festivals nationwide and abroad, we plan to distribute the film via VIMEO. Video-ethnographic evidence is an important form for theorizing, but also for crucial public display.

Stay tuned for all the updates: https://www.facebook.com/OfDomesAndRobes/

Pic.4 Season's Greetings!.jpgPic.4_Best Season’s Greetings to all from us and participants!