by Seymour Sanchez
Award-winning filmmaker Richard Soriano Legaspi’s first documentary Ang Walang Kapagurang Paglalakbay ng Pulang Maleta (The Untiring Journey of the Red Suitcase) will have public screenings in selected venues in Italy and Germany from this month until June.
Produced by Red Room Media Productions and Cine Totoo with the support of Università delle Idee and ILLY – Italy, the film tells the remarkable stories of inspiration of a close-knit Filipino community in the town of Biella, Italy and how they create a community where the culture of both worlds can be freely woven together.
Last May 1, during the International Labor Day celebration, the Red Suitcase became part of a contemporary art exhibition entitled Exploring Resilience at MILA Kunstgalerie in Berlin. It will then travel to Ambasciata d’Italia for exhibition under the program Embodied Resilience II, curated by PeninsulaLab, Wollinerstrasse, starting May 18, also in Berlin.
The film will go back to Biella, Italy on June 6 for a public screening at Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto. This will be an opportunity for Legaspi, a 2013 UNESCO Laureate Artist and alumnus of Università delle Idee, to present his works in one of Europe’s famous contemporary art institutions. The foundation was instituted in 1998 as a concrete action of the Progetto Arte Manifesto where the artist Michelangelo Pistoletto proposed a new role for the artist – that of placing art in direct interaction with all the areas of human activity which forms society.
“It is not easy to shoot a documentary in a foreign land alone but like the film’s prevailing message that each fabric of wool has been trying to weave together the culture, history and people of Biella, including the Filipino workers and their families who continuously toil and embrace Italy, I was able to manage and finish it with the help of other people,” Legaspi said.
Legaspi started shooting the documentary in 2013 using a small camera and he returned to Italy in 2014 to continue documenting the journey of Filipinos in Biella. “They sort of took care of me and embraced my presence for three consecutive years. Technically I was alone filming but the Filipino community in Biella helped me complete this project. This is a clear example of a participatory and community art project which I am very proud of,” he explained.
The director is behind award-winning films like Paano Ko Sasabihin? starring Enchong Dee and Erich Gonzales, which won the Special Jury Prize, Audience Award and Best in Editing at the 2009 Cinema One Originals and was a finalist at the Babel Film Festival in Italy. He is also the director and writer of Manenaya, Special Jury Prize winner at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and the opening film of the Asiatica Film Mediale in Rome in 2012, and Ambulancia, which earned the Miglior Montaggio Award at the San Gio Film Festival in Italy and was a finalist at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), United Arab Emirates.