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An elderly farmer outcasted by his fellows, a truck driver who has been traveling for decades to bring cement up to the mountain, a mycologist expert in the conservation of cinematographic films. Their existences come to life starting from the material preserved in a family cinema archive: hundreds of hours shot by anonymous filmmakers, who between the 1930s and the present day have documented the various stratifications left in the mountains by human action.
Through an irreverent gaze, the narration enters an alienating world, exploring a desert that is a metaphor for the audiovisual archive, an empty space that preserves the traces of the past life. The Third Desert aims to provide an unprecedented representation of the relationship between Italians and their mountains, giving new life to archives buried in oblivion. It is the story of a distant place, a foreign space included within Italian territory: the Alps.
A film about the mountains, or better: about the gaze that Italians have given to their mountains, which has remained imprinted in the archives of family cinema. The anthropologist James Clifford hopes, for Western societies, an “inverted gaze”, which, starting from an "exotic" imaginary, rests on our societies, to analyze their weaknesses and virtues. More than elsewhere, in the mountains, it is possible to turn our gaze upside down, and through different eyes to observe what we are, and what we aim to be.
Lands of conquest and robbery, the Alps have always been narrated through the eyes of the colonizer. The audiovisual gaze on the mountain has never abandoned a certain rhetoric, and has shown little inclination to explore new languages. So, here is a fresh and irreverent proposal, developed to use extraordinary archives in an unusual key, to reflect on the relationship of Italians with the representation of their mountains, and therefore of themselves.
Giulio Carbonero (Archivista); Danilo Monte (Colorist)