Voices and images of a postcolonial heritage

In contrast to media narratives that portray African immigration to Italy as a recent phenomenon, Asmarina offers another vision of the African diaspora in Italy, one that demonstrates the long-standing presence of Eritrean and Ethiopian communities, as well as their contributions to the development of Italian postwar national identity. Asmarina is also a study of contemporary Italy, currently dealing with a rise in xenophobic attacks against African migrants, ongoing migrant catastrophes in the Mediterranean, and the struggle of second-generation Italians of African descent to gain full citizenship rights.

Directed by Alan Maglio and Medhin Paolos (2015, 69 min)

Asmarina is a documentary film about the Habesha (Eritrean and Ethiopian) community in Milan that bridges the present life of this community to the historical legacies of Italian colonialism in the Horn of Africa.

The film makers’ approach to the Habesha life is not as outsiders but rather, as involved and invested members of this community.

The research and the filming of Asmarina took over eighteen months and directly engaged people and their accounts while connecting those stories to printed and audiovisual material found in institutional archives.

Asmarina is thus the result of a meticulous collective research project that tells a more complete story of the colonial relationship between Italy and Eritrea, bringing to light the postcoloniality of Habesha diaspora in Italy that has been little scrutinized up to now: the everyday life stories of those who have lived in the city for years, those who were born in Italy and the day-to-day experiences of the refugees who have just arrived.

The Habesha community has been present in Italy for over half a century and has been actively integrated into the social and cultural life of Italy.

The goal of the film is to bring attention to the collective memories of this community, piecing together peoples’ stories: their immigrant and transnational experiences, their memories of colonialism, their multiple and intersectional identities, as well as their hopes and dreams.

Camera: Federico Giammattei / Alan Maglio
Editing: Walter Marocchi / Alan Maglio / Medhin Paolos
Music: Clap! Clap! / Mauro Buttafava

With, in order of appearance

Michele Lettenze; Ing. Franco de’ Molinari; Berhane Woldegabriel; Kidan Fessation Woldegabriel; Elena Woldegabriel; Erminia Dell’Oro; Asli Haddas; Vito Scifo; Lalla Golderer; Massimo Mormile; Luigi “Jimmy Black”; Kidane Gaber; Tsegehans Weldeslassie; Helen Yohannes; Million Seyum “Dj Milly”.

Asmarina Soundtrack

Kuj Yato – Clap! Clap!
(C. Cristi) ℗ & © Black Acre Records 2014

Asmarina – Arturo Lombardi e Pippo Maugeri
Ed. musicali UNIONE/ Ed. musicali ARDENTE

Selva – Mauro Buttafava
(M. Buttafava) 2002

In viaggio – Mauro Buttafava, Marta Sacchi
(M. Buttafava) 20014

Adu – Tareke Tesfahiwet

Yeshebelu – Tigist Addisu

Peyor Peyor – Clap! Clap!
(C. Cristi) ℗ & © Black Acre Records 2014

A Dança Do Berinbau – Mauro Buttafava
(M. Buttafava) 2002