“The making of Home Visit represented for me a process of catharsis”
For director Annamaria Craparotta, the three-minute autobiographical, reflexive and interactive film Home Visit has significant meaning, as it frames a life-changing moment she was facing.
“The making of this film had a crucial importance for me,” Annamaria says. “It answers my need to tell what I had never said about myself and at the same time, it contributed to making me aware of my identity in relation to my cultural heritage.”
“The film reveals the moment she began her first relationship with a woman at 32 years old and highlights two aspects of this life-changing moment. The personal, about her own sexuality and the cultural, about her Sicilian roots and traditional family environment. One which expected her to follow a conventional path, find a male partner, marry and have kids.
“The main question for me as a filmmaker was about how to capture this personal change, and especially how to frame myself and my feelings changing in this crucial phase of my personal life,” says Annamaria. “The film belongs to the autobiographical genre – a genre that, especially for women filmmakers, because of some of its intrinsic characteristics such as low budget production and privileged access to the domestic environment, had a substantial role in women’s empowerment, opening a window to the female authors’ gaze.”
In creating her film, Annamaria looked at some examples of documentaries made by Chantal Akerman which focus on domestic ethnography, such as No Home Movie, News from Home or even Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Brussels – considered the first masterpiece of the feminine in the history of the cinema – the domestic reveals a hierarchy of images and relates to the place of women within the social hierarchy: “Woman’s work comes out of oppression and whatever comes out of oppression – in the sense of “You have to be” in order to exist – is more interesting”*
“In this case,” says Annamaria.”My film portrays the expected place of a woman in Sicilian culture, in contrast to my personal and diverse narrative.”
“In order to represent my culture, I went back home to Sicily to visit my grandmother, the person that helped to raise me when I was a child. I wanted to film a conversation between my grandmother and me – the closest example of a traditional Sicilian woman I had in my family and consequently, a good subject to introduce my personal conflict within my traditional culture.”
Annamaria’s whole film takes place in one room: her grandmother’s kitchen, where after coming back from London, she invites her for lunch.
“My grandmother’s house was of central importance during my childhood years, as a favourite meeting place for my family. It is an archetypal place, as it brings to our mind memories that we all have might have in common – a place that I described through the use of close up of objects within portions of space, referring to the still-lifes of Sicilian and Italian painters such as Renato Guttuso and Michelangelo Caravaggio. I was filming a place that after thirty years has remained the same, in antithesis to my comings and goings, to my outward and inner movement.”
The film proceeds on a double track, a conversation between Annamaria and her grandmother, as a way to show Annamaria’s cultural background and Annamaria’s voice-over, as a way to express her inner thoughts and feelings about my new relationship with a woman.
“In her kitchen, my grandmother prepared for me ova chini [a Sicilian traditional dish of omelettes filled with breadcrumbs, raisin and pine nuts, cooked in tomato sauce], which was my favourite dish as a child. The moment of our lunch is at the centre of Home Visit,” says Annamaria. “In Sicilian culture, food is the favourite vehicle to introduce social interactions as well as a way of spending time together, especially with family and friends. This invitation is a way for my grandmother not only to spend time with me but also to have the chance to ask me some very uncomfortable questions about my personal life such as finding a partner, marriage intentions and plans for having children. The conversation with my grandmother has the aim of highlighting the oppressive traits of my culture in this moment of coming out.”
In about a minute’s conversation, some specific traits belonging to Annamaria’s Sicilian culture are described. The role of women and the importance of making a family, the importance of finding a male partner and the need of having children as a way to legitimise a woman’s existence.
“While my voice is my way of guiding the whole film, I never appear in the pictures. This way of preferring the voice-over instead of my presence in the images has the function of strengthening the narration,” explains Annamaria. “My voice-over coincides in fact with my point of view as an omniscient internal narrator, who knows all about the story.”
“The making of Home Visit represented for me a process of catharsis,” concludes Annamaria. “Intended as expression and liberation through a poetic autobiographical filmic representation, as well as a way to contact and understand the deeper aspects of my psychological and existential reality.”
*Wakeman John. World Film Directors, Volume 2. The H. W. Wilson Company. 1988. pp. 4, 5.