Director: Stefano Galli
Stefano Galli’s first feature documentary is a delicate journey through the raw and uncensored Stars and Stripes Land: America, the Beautiful. Various animated polaroids conquer the silver screen, portraying a multitude of snapshots across the country.
‘Lamerica’ plays with words in Italian, combining the indefinite article “L’” (The) and the name of the country, “America,” to show the authentic image of the U.S.A. This visual narrative takes the viewer on a lyrical journey across the states, through 16mm frames, evocative of postcards from the road. The director’s eye captures the country in all its nuances, as it unfolds before his incisive wry outsider’s glance.
The composition within each frame presents chromatic and dynamic perspectives, alternating tight close shots with wide stunning depictions of landscapes. The style, which apparently seems casual, is very refined and elaborate: the moving diapositives compose the tableau vivant structure of the narrative, and Galli violates this patten in only two occasions, with a travelling shot (where stars and stripes flutter in and out of the frame from the bed of a pick-up truck), and a panning shot (which shows a desolate cornfield panorama).
The characters who populate this family album, of an entire country, are real people. Some address the camera directly, others make their entrance and exit with nonchalance. The film wanders from east to west, and north to south. From Texas to Montana; from California to Minnesota; from Ohio to Florida.
The road trip is random, as the geographical and cultural juxtapositions commingle from one state to the next. ‘Lamerica’ does not portray the cliche of the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave,” where people may pursue their dream, starting from scratch, going from rags to riches. It’s mundane. It’s all about the daily chores that keep us alive in a struggling world. ‘Lamerica’ with poetic simplicity sums up “the sound and fury signifying nothing” universal to all countries, shedding a melancholic light on a combative America that does not give in to self-pity.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi