Screening this evening at 6:30 at the Lightbox is this gentle drama filmed on location in gorgeous Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy.
Dani (Jean-Christope Folly) is a refugee from Togo, flawed and broken, he is trying to hold his own life together, and cannot even bear to look at his baby daughter, because all he sees is his dead wife’s eyes looking back at him.
Michele (Matteo Marchel) is a young boy, flawed and broken, who has lost his father, suffers from nightmares, and takes out his grief on his equally stricken mother, Elisa (Anita Caprioli).
When Dani takes a carpenter’s job working with Michele’s grandfather, Pietro (Peter Mitterrutzner) the two meet, and their daily collection of wood allows them to get to know one another. And hopefully help each other.
Both of them open up to each other in ways they won’t with anyone else in their lives, and despite their differences the two become strong friends, and perhaps they can mend their flaws together.
Segre has crafted a film that doesn’t rush, much like Michele wandering through the woods taking in the sights, the film does as well, meandering gently through the story. When Dani is in town, at the apartment he lives in with his daughter, and a host of others, everything feels a little claustrophobic, but out amongst the mountains, everything opens up to beautiful vistas and sun painted leaves.
The title tends to give away the ending of the film, or at least when it is, but for both of the main characters, the film is a beautiful, coming of age tale for both of them. One is taking the steps towards manhood, and the other towards fatherhood, though I will openly admit there were moments when I was not happy at all with Dani, and the treatment of his daughter. I realize it was all in service to the character arc, but man, there were times…
Watching Dani and Michele together is fun, because neither of them is entirely comfortable with who they are, and consequently aren’t entirely comfortable with each other, but upon realizing that neither is truly judging the other, they both begin to open up, leading to their final scene, when both of them are making truly large decisions.
There are spiteful moments on both of their parts, the moments when Dani is working on his woodworking, completely ignoring the fact that the ruckus is disturbing his sleeping daughter, or walking out on her while she cries, to the way Michele strikes out at his mother, hurting her with the death of his father.
A lovely character piece that is truly beautiful to watch.
The First Snowfall screens tonight at the Italian Contemporary Film Festival.
Have a look!