La nostalgia della condizione sconosciuta
a film by Andrea Grasselli
production 5e6 with OM video

ITALY | 73′ | COLOR | DCP | DOCUMENTARY | 2020

Logline

Inspired by the essay The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by sociologist Erving Goffman, the documentary explores the threshold between social and dramaturgical roles. The need to represent what we are missing, what we cannot experience, and the impossibility of stopping this need is examined through the struggle of Ettore, singer-songwriter and protagonist of the documentary.

Synopsis

Ettore is a singer that thinks outside the box: his lyrics and ballads are imbued with a mixture of everyday rituals and surreal lightness. 

The documentary shows the crisis of a man and the turning point in his life as a musician. He decides to leave the stage and to no longer play publicly. Refusing to play in public, however, doesn’t mean leaving music or artistic expressions, but reflecting on how to do it. The film investigates moments of intimacy and daily life of the artist, and discreetly observes the process a man giving a new meaning to his existence. 

The key question of the film, directly through the words of Ettore, is: «What is my role? It’s interpreting myself at my best; without acting, though…». The film develops around this question that gives life to a carrousel of emotional and existential short circuits. Under the surface of simple images of daily activities, a continuous obsession begins to infiltrate and grows until it explodes. 

How does a man represents himself? Why does he need to create an image, a representation of himself, for himself or others? There is a duality in the way he does it: he builds an identity for himself and a character for other people to look at. The mingling between private and public begins to overlap when the one who is looked at is also the one who looks; this creates a short circuit in which the onlooker changes the events he is watching. If a real person is inserted in a narrative context, does he play a part? 

The story of the film fluctuates on the existential research of a man looking for an identity, with his needs, impulses, fears. The documentary is forced by his questions to question its own function and shape. The film acquires new shapes. Ettore begins filming himself as a metaphor of the auto-analysis he is performing. Surreal traits start popping out in his everyday life, mirroring the lyrics of his songs. Ettore finds a way to express his deepest emotions in creating and staging theatre-like scenes and monologues. 

The search for the identity of Ettore is a long journey of liberation and growth that is both a tragedy and a comedy. Ettore desires to reach something that he longs for, even if he doesn’t know what it is. He is looking for an Unfamiliar State of Being and the road to it is long and arduous. He swims deep into his emotions in order to reach and explore that state. 

At first, Ettore is aware of the tension between himself and his stage character. In the course of the narration, this line becomes thinner, until it reaches a moment of total rupture. Ettore is lost in a maze were he faces the infinite shapes that his existence may take. His crisis is followed by rebirth, a change of skin, in which he discovers new meanings, new passions and new artistic drive. 

In his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, the sociologist Erving Gofmann writes that it seems that men need social relationships under a double profile; on the one hand they need an audience to brag to, on the other hand they need teammates to relax with backstage. 

What happens when the protagonist of a documentary plays the part of himself, exploring ambiguous concepts of reality? Ettore drags us into a claustrophobic game of existential mirrors, questioning the boundaries between reality and staging.

Trailer

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