feature documentary and book out now
"wonderful"George Monbiot – The Guardian and Author of Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding
"unforgettable images … evocative, informative, poetic … highly relevant"Ambassador Markus Reiterer – Alpine Convention
"peaceful and tense, simple and fertile, smooth and complex"Myriam Gast Loup – Head of programming, The International Environmental Film Festival
"a meditation … beautiful, moving … a tone that is measured, elegiac, almost ghostly"Tom Pow – Author of In Another World – Among Europe’s Dying Villages
As rural populations age and decline, new and surprising landscapes are appearing across Europe. Farmland lies abandoned, reclaimed by a self-willed natural world: trees are growing where once there were fields; wild animals roam free amongst the debris. Away from the pull of our economic centres, marginalised regions are witnessing the start of a demographic and cultural collapse. Ways of life become stories, stories become history, and as the city grows the memory fades…
But things grow from the cracks of ruin, and in the cracks of great change are small stories. In an abandoned alpine valley, one village’s precarious attempt to survive offers a series of reflections on our changing relationship with the countryside and as such with the natural world itself.
✿ TALLINN BLACK NIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL✿ CAMERIMAGE INTERNATIONAL CINEMATOGRAPHY FILM FESTIVAL✿ SOFIA INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL✿ INNSBRUCK NATURE FILM FESTIVAL✿ SALZBURG MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL✿ GALLIO FILM FESTIVAL✿ RIAPERTURE FESTIVAL
Written Directed and Produced: Opher ThomsonCo-Produced: Michael BeismannNarrated: Sarah WaringField Recordings, Sound Design and Edit: Opher ThomsonOriginal Music: Jez Riley FrenchOther Sounds: Eva De AdamoSound Mastering: Stefan Wolf
The New Wild: Life in the Abandoned LandsWorld Premiere 2017 / Cinematic Release 2018Austria, Italy, UKLanguage: EnglishSubtitles Available: Italian, German69 mins / HD / ColourScreening Formats: DCP - 1:1.85, Stereo / BluRay / HD File
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✿ 28/10/19 PASSAU ✿ 18/10/19 CHIAVENNA (Sondrio)06/09/19 MALS, Venosta✿ 27/07/19 TRAMONTI DI SOTTO✿ 18/07/19 CACORGNANO (Caorle) Ca'Corniani✿ 17/04/19 VICENZA Cinema Leone XIII✿ 09/04/19 CIVIDALE DEL FRIULI Teatro Ristori✿ 06/04/19 FERRARA Riaperture Festival Sala Boldini✿ 26/02/19 VITTORIO VENETO Cinema Verdi, Cinema Ambiente✿ 18/01/19 Castasegna (Bregaglia, Switzerland)✿ 20/11/18 SALZBURG Mountain Film Festival, Das Kino✿ 11/11/18 BERCETO (Parma) Festival di Antropologia✿ 10/11/18 TURIN Museo Nazionale della Montagna✿ 27/10/18 PISTOIA Convegno sull'Abbandono✿ 12/10/18 INNSBRUCK Università✿ 10/10/18 TREVISO Fondazione Benetton ✿ 06/10/18 FRAGHETO (Rimini) ✿ 29/09/18 ARTEGNA Teatro Nuovo✿ 28/09/18 COMEGLIANS (Carnia) Sala Alpina✿ 19/08/18 MOGGIO UDINESE Poli Treu✿ 17/08/18 DORDOLLA Open Air✿ 26/07/18 ASIAGO GALLIO FILM FESTIVAL✿ 23/07/18 MOOSTE (ESTONIA) Moks Metsik✿ 11/07/18 INNSBRUCK Marktplazt Open Air✿ 10/07/18 INNSBRUCK Leokino✿ 08/07/18 KLAGENFURT Volkskino✿ 05/07/18 CAORLE - Cacorgnano✿ 02/07/18 LIENZ Cinex Kino✿ 24/06/18 VILLACH Stadtkino, Rathausplatz, Cinemambulante ✿ 16/06/18 LIGURIA, Millesimo, CINE PER LA TERRA✿ 12/06/18 BAYERN, BERCHTESGADEN H.d.Berge ✿ 22/05/18 UDINE Visionario BOOK LAUNCH Screening✿ 19/05/18 BIELLA Pettinengo Villa Piazzo ✿ 16/05/18 ZURICH Volkshaus Zürich with debate✿ 02/05/18 BOLZANO Cinema Filmclub + Debate w/EURAC✿ 29/04/18 VALSTAGNA✿ 28/04/18 SAN VITO AL TAGLIAMENTO Zotti✿ 26/04/18 TRIESTE Cinema Ariston✿ 20/04/18 CODROIPO Cinema Lumière✿ 19/04/18 TOLMEZZO Nuovo Cinema David✿ 18/04/18 UDINE Visionario (matinée con 250 studenti)✿ 10/04/18 SAN DANIELE Splendor✿ 10/04/18 GEMONA Cinema Sociale✿ 09/04/18 GEMONA Cinema Sociale✿ 07/03/18 LIGNANO Cinecity✿ 16/02/18 MONFALCONE Cinema Kinemax ✿ 15/02/18 TOLMEZZO Cinema David✿ 21 - 27/02/18 PORDENONE Cinemazero (ALL WEEK, EVERY NIGHT)✿ 12/02/18 PORDENONE Cinemazero✿ 09/02/18 GORIZIA Cinema Kinemax✿ 08/02/18 TRIESTE Cinema Ariston✿ 06/02/18 GEMONA Cinema Sociale✿ 19/01/18 NAPOLI Rassegna AstraDoc, Acadamy Astra ✿ 11 - 24/01/18 UDINE Cinema Centrale, (TWO WEEKS, 3 SCREENINGS A NIGHT)✿ 08/01/18 UDINE, IL VISIONARIO, ITALIAN PREMIERE✿ 26 + 28/11/17 + 02/12/17 TALLINN NORDIC PREMIERE✿ 16/11/2017 BYDGOSZCZ, POLISH PREMIERE✿ 13/11/2017 BERN, ALPINE MUSEUM SWITZERLAND, SWISS PREMIERE ✿ 04/11/2017 SOFIA, INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE✿ 12/10/17 INNSBRUCK, LEOKINO, WORLD PREMIERE
Outstanding ... informative and poetic ... highly relevant not just for the Alpine Convention area but for all mountain regions ... Its intense moods, unforgettable images and evocative narration help take us further into these marginalised environments so that we not only understand the challenges they face, but also experience the new wild too.Ambassador Markus Reiterer, Alpine Convention
The New Wild traces paths to feel, think and practice our home differently. We find ourselves facing Time in its multiplication and asking the question what does the measure of the world consist of? These are questions, perspectives, interrogations and interruptions that dismantle the human sovereignty over things. The New Wild rightly invites us to travel between the world that we think reflects our languages of belonging and the planet that precedes and exceeds our claims. These are the silent stories that speak a language that we often cannot hear. The interruption disseminated by this silence proposes a poetics that exceeds our presence to subvert the linear time of our presumed ‘progress’. What we cannot cling to, map and define, remains in the custody of the other deep and sidereal times of the planet. To be invested and somewhat defeated by this challenge means registering our boundaries as we try to overcome them. It is a question of losing oneself radically to find oneself elsewhere; to uproot ourselves to travel in worlds that we have not authorised but that exist, persist and resist.Iain Chambers, Author of Migrancy, culture, identity (Routledge, 2008)
Christopher Thomson’s The New Wild is a meditation in which “absence takes the form of presence”. We are told about the speed of depopulation in these northern Italian villages in a tone that is measured, elegiac, almost ghostly. “The speed of change is a kind of spectacle.” The New Wild frames that spectacle for us in shots that are not rushed: stones, doors, the poetry of house numbers, a collapsed roof. Nature has been quick to seed itself here as it always is. Nor does our absence make these scenes any less beautiful. Human structures and artefacts become part of the natural world: light and shadow pass across them; there is the rattle of dried leaves in the breeze. One of the most moving scenes comes near the end, it is of local people gathering themselves for a group photograph. In this way they too, perhaps unawares, memorialise their passing.Tom Pow, Author of In Another World – Among Europe’s Dying Villages (Polygon 2012)
The New Wild is a whisper that pulls the viewer into the image: the landscape is not in front of me, but all around.Francesco Migliaccio, Monitor Magazine and Author of Primavera Breve (Monitor)FULL REVIEW
In its profound poetry, The New Wild brings unprecedented considerations and insights that are as original as they are unexpected.Enos Costantini, Author and Editor in Chief of Tiere Furlane
Wonderful.George Monbiot, The Guardian, Author of Feral: Searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding (Allen Lane, Penguin 2013)
Thomson creates beautiful tableaux of a forgotten world ... with echoes of the likes of Michelangelo Frammartino, The New Wild is a measured and reflective piece of work that is resplendent in displaying a natural world that is both beautiful yet slightly terrifying in its refusal to be tamed by human endeavour. An astonishing cinematic experience, The New Wild unearths and preserves a world that is slowly sliding away whilst making us wonder just how permanent our way of life really is.Laurence Boyce, Tallinn Black Nights Film FestivalFULL REVIEW
Peaceful and tense, simple and fertile, smooth and complex.Myriam Gast Loup, Head of programming, FIFE The International Environmental Film Festival
The New Wild dedicates its attention to the nature regaining ground in a world apparently dominated by man and his artefacts. The mighty structures that service the rapid passage of goods and business are confronted by the rubble of time all around them, and Thomson observes nature breathing life into these spaces with all her indifferent force. His gaze is calm, symmetric, elegant, profound: very human. Among the ruins of other times he uncovers traces of a past in which man and nature coexisted, one a part of the other. He also finds those who still want to live with nature as companion, that with tenacity keep alive a few old villages in the mountains.Gianfilippo Pedote, Producer of All about you, Chemical Hunger and Anima Mundi
AUTHOR'S NOTE & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This book began life as a film of the same name. The film began life as a book that never was. The film was written in the first instance, in a kind of verse, after many years research and first-hand experience. I had been considering a book, but I wanted the static and subtle qualities of absence to be expressed fully in a way that still images, static in themselves, couldn’t offer. A photo extracts from time and suggests, and I wanted the continuous present of the abandoned lands – nature’s time – to be allowed to course in it’s own way, so that the true non-meaning of abandon might confront us more nakedly: no people, no chronology, no story.
A film was made, and this took time: the looking shaped the words, the seeing challenged them and the wind blew a great deal of the original details away. Cinema reaches for the universal, the shared emotion, and much of this work was written quickly in response to a light and a moment while the camera recorded. Equally, I found situations I had tried so hard to write about expressed in a simple image, and I found I could explain other difficult situations with a single cut between images: I let more and more words go.
The process of working different languages to liberate meaning also led me back to thinking about a book. I had perhaps been too quick to write off photography as a means of responding to this other absent sense of time: perhaps, learning from film, there was a way to bring still images together in a way that the gaps between them – the missing frames; that which hasn’t been recorded – are just as valid. “Absence takes the form of presence, and presence absence”: this book renders a film, in itself always ephemeral, a hard paper presence, while at the same time, I hope, offering more space for pause, reflection, question, and the kinds of absent thought where new ideas may seed.
This book also began life as a journey, which in turn became many journeys, and I would like to thank first and foremost all the welcoming people of marginalised Europe I’ve been lucky enough to meet and spend time with, whose tenacity, creativity and initiative has so inspired my passion for the small places of this world.
This project has been supported by many in the most generous way possible, with the kind of trust that has allowed me to explore more considered and responsive outcomes, rather than having to fulfil predetermined criteria and objectives to tick boxes. That such a project be so robustly supported from the very beginning is no small gift, and I thank all of the collaborators and partners profusely for the confidence and belief they have shown throughout. Thanks then to: the University of Innsbruck, Land Tirol, the Alpenverein Österreich, EURAC Research in Bozen, CAI Comitato Scientifico Centrale: Gruppo Terre Alte in Italy, UNIKUM in Klagenfurt, and Mountain Wilderness Switzerland.
The University of Innsbruck has been involved from the very beginning as a research partner, collaborator and sponsor, so a special thanks to Professor Georg Kaser, Dean of the Faculty of Geo and Atmospheric Sciences, and Professor Hans Stötter, Head of Geography, and of course to the Demographic Change in the Alps Research Group – Professor Ernst Steinicke, Michael Beismann, Roland Löffler, Judith Walder and Wolfgang Warmuth – with whom so much of this journey has been shared; work has long since given way to friendship. Michael Beismann has made much of this collaboration possible through tireless communication in his role as co-producer with Regionalsynergie. I thank him for his insights, suggestions and endless enthusiasm, as well as for making the whole project viable.
I would also like to thank the writers and researchers Tom Pow, Mauro Varotto, Enos Costantini and Stefano Filacorda for the consultation and guidance during the writing phase, as well as Tommaso Saggiorato for his dedicated work in the archives. The text was also edited thoroughly through a lengthy process of translation into Italian and German, so thanks to Esther Topitz, Maria Silvano, Gaia Baracetti and Tina Hofstätter for challenging the words so readily and having the patience to help me better understand what I was trying to say.
For support during production I thank Krystian Jones, Özgür Gorgun, James Benson and Andrea Blasetig for all their technical help. I thank Paulo Cedaro and Eva Quinkenstein, Critina Comuzzo and Sara Vezzaro, Nadia Tamburlini and Stefano Picco, and express endless gratitude to all the ‘Dordollesi’ who have fed and transported, educated and encouraged, teased and grounded: who’ve shared so much of their lives with me. In particular I thank Carlo Di Gallo, Graziano Della Schiava, Lavinia Della Schiava, Viviana Gasparella, Giorgio Missono, Silvana Napolitani, Kaspar Nickles, Annalisa Pellizotti, Fulvio Tolazzi and Marina Tolazzi: all of whose faces appear in this book! What has been achieved by this village was and remains a source of great inspiration.
As I edited and tried to bring everything together, doubts and questions still abounded, and the manifold advice I received from those with more experience was instrumental in shaping this work and helping me to see things more clearly, so many thanks also to Antonella Bukovaz, Alessandra Cianelli, Tom Connoly, Gabriella Ferrari, Michelangelo Frammartino, Adam Hodgkins, Alina Marazzi, Monica Massari, Moreno Miorelli, Gianfilippo Pedote, Donatella Ruttar, Cinzia Sarto and everyone at the Stazione di Topolò.
Finally, a huge thanks to Sarah Waring, to my friends and family, and to all those who participated in the crowd funding campaign that allowed me to get this whole project off the ground back in 2014: Renzo Anelli, Jo Adlbrecht, Mauro Bacci, Gertraud Beismann, James Benson, Anthony Bowen, Ben Bowen, Annika Brockmann, Mauro Buffolo, Max Cedaro, Kate Chandler, Ricky Cousins, Ben Croker, Andrea Della Rovere, Dominique Della Schiava, Graziano Della Schiava, Arjuna Del Toso, Stefano Devoti, Marisa Di Gallo, Gianfranco Druidi, Michael Dvorak, Stefano Eberhard, Veronika Eberl, Bob Farrer, Valeria Ferioli, Gabriella Ferrari, Julie Gauthier, Sergio Gollino, Alessandro Gretter, Janet and Pete Gurney, Robert Gurney, Judith Johnson, Denise Jones, Krystian Jones, Jono Karstadt, Manfred Klaffenböck, Claudia Knepper, Moreno Miorelli, Giorgio Missoni, Pierre Mollet, Sandra Muzzolini, Silvana Napolitani, David Not, Julia Nuener, Christine Pellarini, Giuliano Piccoli, Annemarie Pilgram, Peter Püschel, Sheila Ranson, Barbara Rath, Sarah Richter, David Rogerson, Andrej Rubarth, Riccardo Saggiorato, Bruno Seravalli, Alexander Shafranov, Dominique Snyers, Jeff Soyer, Stephan Sting, Rosella Tess, Josef Teufer, Fulvio Tolazzi, Francesca Tomada, Michael Topitz, Gerhard Trampitsch, Costanza Travaglini, Andrew von Treuberg, Paul Walters, Jean Waring and Caroline Woodley. Special thanks to Toni Innauer, William Johnson and Tom Mildner.
The art works featured in part three of this book are by Mattia Campo Dall’Orto, Davide Comelli, Georg Frauenschuh, Francesco Patat, Ernesto Paulin, Tommaso Sandri and Manuel Andriolo. The Group Photo was taken by Alessandro Ruzzier.
THE PLACE BETWEEN
A winding journey through a landscape of metamorphosis: this is a photographic study of a place markedly between, of a village surrounded by restless cultural and ecological processes. These are images of change, dramatic and dynamic, and all the more intriguing for their inherent peace and stillness.
"...streams with love not just for these places, but for nature and life as a whole, and in the silence there is an extraordinary soundtrack..."Moreno Miorelli, Curator of Stazione di Topolò
"...Photographs? Landscapes? Perhaps. Moods, for sure: The Place Between is always a land 'beyond'..." Enos Costantini, Editor of Tiere Furlane
Begin your walk now...
Index is a mapping of the area that aims to document and preserve old place names as well as encouraging the use of pathways to keep them open. Every place, river or mountain detailed in the drawings is then illustrated alphabetically by a photograph that, as well as attempting to record it's main features, also tries to create a small sense of grandeur for these places, unforgotten, for what they were but also for what they are. They are human places by their very naming alone:
Palis d'arint, Insomp i plans, Curmiran, Pustot...
01-29 05 2014DORDOLLA | VAL AUPA (IT)KURATOR | SELEKTOR | A CURA DI: Moreno Miorelli
Originally exhibited as part of the EWIGE BAUSTELLE project 01.05.14 - 29.05.14
The Dordolla Metro mischievously suggests a speed and ease to travel in a landscape that offers neither. Like Index, it was developed as another way of documenting old place names and creating interactions with them. The lines represent pathways and connections between these often forgotten 'destinations'.
THE REMOTE POSTMAN
collecting and delivering stories of innovation and resilience in the small places
[A PROJECT PROPOSAL]
Away from the pull of our capitalised cities, marginalised regions are witnessing a demographic and cultural collapse. Empty villages, fallen farmhouses and overgrown pathways – a whole landscape in ruin and running wild – these are common scenes that ask complicated questions about our collective cultural heritage and what its loss might signify. Yet as the populations of these small places continue to dwindle their relevance to a centralised economy seems only to diminish further, making a consistent policy response all the more difficult.
For those living in the abandoned lands the challenges are great. Public services are deemed expensive while the private sector sees little incentive to invest: hospitals, schools and shops close, buses and trains are cancelled and basic infrastructure falls into disrepair, all of which increases the sense of distance. This isolation is intensified by the idea of the hyper-connected urban world of the future, adding to the disparity and impression of a world past.
So what can be done?
From the city the countryside tends to be imagined as a place of stability, as something to therefore conserve, and various attempts to halt or even reverse this demographic change can be understood within this context. The situation demands an urgent reappraisal however, because to judge these spaces on their population sizes alone is to commit rural development projects to failure whilst eroding the political will to assist regions that genuinely need support. All the more we risk missing the inherent value of these places as unique laboratories that help diversify our cultural landscape. For while the bleak statistical picture is discouraging, it doesn't reveal the many idiosyncrasies of a countryside in transformation, nor can it recount the many individual stories of tenacity and initiative that are already taking place all around Europe. Where the state cannot see solutions some people are simply finding ways.
To understand the small places we perhaps need small stories.
Local initiatives might appear token acts against the overall backdrop of abandon, but they hold open the door of imagination for others, and their effect on the local rural structure – the architecture, the landscape, the community – can often be considerable. They can also have a profound effect on the perception of an area by both its own people and outsiders: one proactive spark of human activity can often lead to others.
As such The Remote Postman proposes to seek out these stories and help circulate them: collecting and delivering; listening and retelling. This act of dissemination would aim to serve both the initiatives themselves but also the institutions that would like to support them. The Remote Postman’s ‘round’ would provide a network of knowledge and experience between different peripheral regions of Europe with the aim of sharing ideas and reducing the sense of isolation, while also directly linking these new inter-remote lines of communication with the political and research institutions involved in the project. The aim is not to build a model but rather an appropriate resource bank of ideas and experience that both existing and new initiatives – as well as institutions – can use to think through their own responses.
What can be done? Perhaps we could start by looking closer at what is being done...
Copyright © Opher Thomson, 2018
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