Book Chapter

Niccolò Bruna's ethical process as social engagement: upholding human stories against a backdrop of globalization



Fleming D & Gilardi F (2020) Niccolò Bruna's ethical process as social engagement: upholding human stories against a backdrop of globalization. In: Cristiano A & Coen C (eds.) Experimental and Independent Italian Cinema: Legacies and Transformations into the Twenty-First Century. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 1-280.

Born in Turin, Italy, Niccolò Bruna is an independent filmmaker and producer who has been experimenting with the expressive tools of documentary-film since attending the EICTV (Escuela Internacional de Cine y Television) in Cuba in 1999. He moved to Barcelona in 2014 adding his name to the Italian phenomenon known as the ‘fuga dei cervelli’ (a “brain drain” that saw thousands of well-educated, creative and innovative Italian people leave the country because of a lack of opportunities, poor working conditions, and high living costs). Associated with this, his growing body of films highlight the effects of moving bodies and shifting identities undergoing, in one form or another, migration in-between different nation states. In this chapter we take the opportunity to view Bruna’s documentary corpus holistically, asking of it what it means to be an ethical documentary filmmaker in the epoch that the Mexican-Argentine philosopher Enrique Dussel calls the age of “globalisation and exclusion.” Certainly, Bruna’s work is that of a global itinerant, foregrounding human-interest stories against a backdrop of prejudicial globalization. Although this demands that he research and record in a radically diverse range of global locations (that now includes Italy, Brazil, India, China, Cuba, and Ethiopia), we can still identify a loose yet consistent series of themes, tropes, and motifs that define his expanding body of heterogeneous (and heteroglossic) work. These can be broadly adumbrated here as being linked to 1) the director’s preference for a dispersed mode of storytelling that leads to a polycentric view of a given milieu or event 2) an ethically “withdrawn” or absented auteur persona, which foregoes any authoritative “voice over” conventions, while allowing framing, editing, and the characters themselves to build the multi-aspectual stories instead; and 3) a tropological favouring of female perspectives and characters with regard to the various events presented.

Publication date31/07/2020
Publication date online31/07/2020
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Publisher URL…n-cinema-hb.html
Place of publicationEdinburgh

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Dr David Fleming
Dr David Fleming

Senior Lecturer, Communications, Media and Culture