Il Capo

After yesterday’s feature we continue to stay in the fascinating Carrara area, with its marble quarries where men and machines dig the mountains, this time moving to Monte Bettogli. Last year in October, Nowness shared this excerpt of the highly inspirational documentary “Il Capo” (The Chief) by the italian visionary Yuri Ancarani. It continues to be one of the best things we’ve seen in a long time, portraying a maestro quarry manager at work. The extraordinary craftsmen coordinates or even conducts his quarrymen and heavy-duty machines, using a language consisting solely of gestures and signs. Conducting his dangerous and sublime orchestra against the backdrop of the almost surreal landscapes and peaks of the Apuane Alps, The Chief works in total noise, which create a paradoxical silence. The result is an utmost poetic video, finding extraordinary beauty in an extraordinary craft.

Marble quarries are places so unbelievable and striking, they almost feel like they are big theaters or sets.

The idea of the documentary revealed itself in the mind of Ancarani from actually seeing quarrymen at work. Inspired by their extraordinary way of communicating in a nonconventional language of gestures and signs, a code used by The Chief to overcome the ambient blast. Their masterful work is realized in the enchanting backdrop of the Alpi Apuane, with the quarry blinding –white and trackless cleft, a dusty lunar landscape. A place so inaccessible, making the endless challenge to overcome the mountains even more heroic. Director of Photography for the documentary is the talented Ugo Carlevaro, who together with Ancarani, found an tremendous geometry in the orchestra of machinery, led by The Chief.

In a lot of documentaries about the marble quarries, the quarrymen are shown as Neorealistic archetypes, tough guys made of sweat and swear words. I, on the other hand, admire their practical intelligence: it is a form of elegance that can teach us a lot, and which my head quarryman possesses: he is a man who has style in his gestures and manners. In such a tough and dangerous environment, I wanted to highlight an aspect of delicacy.

Yuri Ancarani is a visual artist, director and lecturer in Video Art at the NABA – Nuova Accademia Belle Arti (Milan). His works have been shown at national and international museums and exhibitions, such as: MAXXI, Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo (Rome, Italy), R. Solomon Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA), Cinema Eye Honors, Museum of Moving Image (New York, USA), XIV Biennale Internazionale di Scultura (Carrara, Italy),  ZERO…gallery (Milan, Italy), Fair: Berlin (Berlin, Germany), La Friche Marseille (France) and Videoart Yearbook 09, among others. After “Il Capo”, Ancarani directed “Piattaforma luna”, followed by the incredible “Da Vinci”, focussing on a robotic surgery department. His most recent film “San Siro” was premiered during last Toronto International Film Festival. It forms another beautiful chapter in the filmography of Ancarani, showing the footbalstadium in Milano in a totally unique manner.

For more information on this remarkable documentary see here.