Everybody in the valley is waiting for the first snow.
It will change all colors, all shapes, all outlines.
But Dani has never seen the snow.
Dani was born in Togo and arrived in Italy as a refugee from the war in Libya.
He was taken in by a refugee home on Pergine, a small village in the mountains of Trentino, at the foot of
the Mocheni Valley.
He has a one-year-old daughter who he is unable to care for. There is something that blocks him. A deep
Dani is invited to work in the workshop of Pietro, an old carpenter and beekeeper from the Mocheni
Valley who lives on a mountain farm with his daughter-in-law Elisa and his grandson Michele, a boy aged
ten whose fitfulness strikes Dani.
Michele’s father has died a short time ago, leaving a big hole in the young boy’s life. Michele’s relationship
with his mother is tense and conflicted. For support and friendship, he turns to his uncle Fabio.
Sooner or later the snow will arrive, and there is not much time to repair the beehives and collect
firewood. It is a short and necessary time span that allows pain and silences to turn into occasions for
understanding and knowing. It is a time to let the leaves, the trees and the forests prepare themselves for
In this time and in these woods, before the snow, Dani and Michele can learn to listen to each other.
Up to Palù coming from Fierozzo the language spoken is Mocheno, a type of ancient German.
Coming up to Palù from Sant’Orsola, only Trentino dialect is spoken. Some call it Italian Mocheno.
In Palù the valley is born and you go back to where you came from.
Or you go up higher.
Beyond the Masi, typical dairy farms, towards the seven crests, up to Lake Erdemolo, along the black rocks
Palù is at 1600 meters, Sant’Orsola at less than 1000, Fierozzo just a bit higher.
So when the larches above Palù are yellow, in Sant’Orsola they are still green.
While the beeches and the birches change leaves first. Red, okra, orange, violet, amaranth.
But in the beechwoods there are no firs or pines. They only get mixed up with the larches.
Mountain bees do not love the larches, only the firs. The ones that get lost in the larches risk making
honeydew and the hives break.
Hardly anyone has bees in the valley anymore and even the cows have almost disappeared.
There are two, maybe three sheep and goat shepherds. They go up through the woods above Frassilongo,
towards the high pastures of Kamauz and Roveda. Instead, there are still many hunters. Two bucks and
one doe a year for each township. Not one more, this is the rule. But many more fawns.
Everyone knows who hunted what. Talk spreads from town to town, from maso to maso, the old wooden
and stone houses handed down in families from one generation to the next, like microcosms in that old
and silent archipelago that hosts our story.
Light enters the forests in conjunction with shade. They alternate, cross, play as figure and counterfigure,
as living spaces between silence and noise. It is as if the trees want to escape the forest. But they cannot.
They grow in search of light, they stretch to reach higher than the others but remain anchored in the same
spot, one next to the other, in regular lines that define a perspective.
The forest is the central place for the encounter between Dani and Michele. It is the space in which they
follow each other, push each other away, get to know each other. It is a space in which Nature becomes
theater. A space where reality becomes a place for the soul, a space that hosts meanings and metaphors
that transcend itself, ready to turn into a dream.
Like my first film Shun Li and the Poet, La prima neve is built in a constant dialogue between documentary
and fiction, between the closest and most direct rapport with reality and the choice of intimate moments
built up through minute attention to the details of the script. The same holds true for working with the
actors: locals and professional actors interact with one another, in a process of cross-contamination
between reality and acting. What this second film of mine adds is the opportunity to work with the energy
and unpredictability of children.
Making films that tell real stories. Fiction films and documentaries that are different forms of the same
language, of cinema. Andrea Segre and Jolefilm have always shared the idea that cinema is able to tell
difficult, local stories, tied to a particular territory but whose depiction of the pain and suffering of their
protagonists move a universal audience. We tried to do this with First Snowfall, which relates overcoming
deep pain through sharing, dialogue, affection, and listening.
Perhaps the word “sharing” is also the most precise characterization of our way of making films.
We build up a compact crew, all of whom know the story in depth, who talk about it and discuss it.
Clarity, listening and, exactly, sharing have become the main characteristics of our production approach
and the road we have all travelled together.
The film has also gathered support from the Film Commission of Trentino and Trentino Marketing spa, the
collaboration of Rai Cinema, the contribution from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, and the
support of private partners, Montura and Davide Orsoni, who had already accompanied us during the first
film Shun Li and the Poet.
With our crew and the precious participation of the inhabitants of Valle dei Mocheni we have tried to tell
this story, a real story, a difficult story.
“Change” is the other word that must distinguish independent productions and in part it is happening.
In this 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival the Artistic Director Barbera has selected independent
films, with innovative languages and heterogeneous formats: he has selected the Italian Cinema of today,
without constraints and prejudices.