The film “Take me to see the night”. Beltrami: spirituality, a central aspect

The documentary by Lia and Alberto Beltrami presented at the Vatican Film Library. Attention focused on the condition of women in the Sinti and Roma communities. The authors tell their story

Rosario Tronnolone – Vatican City

“Take me to see the night…” is the request of a Roma child to a nun who holds him in her arms: she can’t sleep if she doesn’t feel the starry sky above her, and the free wind. Lia and Alberto Beltrami choose it as the title for their documentary which will be previewed at the Vatican Film Library on the afternoon of Monday 15 November.

The protagonist of the documentary is a woman, Carla, who fifty years ago founded the Associazione Italiana Zingari Oggi (AIZO), choosing to share the life of the Sinti and Roma communities in order to truly understand them. An extraordinary and concrete woman who for fifty years, with a large group of volunteers, has been meeting the difficulties of the Sinti and Roma who live in illegal camps and in situations of greater hardship. Carla is a consecrated member of the Company of Sant’Orsola, and in 1971 she feels driven by the desire to go on a mission. For a casual meeting (but we would say providential) with a priest delegated to Roma and Sinti, she changes her life and makes a choice of total sharing.

The film pays particular attention to the condition of women in the Sinti and Roma communities: the testimony of Rebecca, an internationally recognized painter and violinist, without having denied her identity of origin, is significant because she represents the breaking down of walls of prejudice and a possible change within their own communities. But perhaps the most incisive aspect of the film is the definition that Carla herself gives of Jesus, when she calls him “revolutionary”: he revolutionized his world through love, and we are all called to bring the revolution of the Gospel into ours. world, however contradictory and hostile it may appear.

To tell the background and the origins of this story is the director herself, Lia Beltrami:

“Take me to see the night” is the story of a people, but also of the extraordinary experience of a woman, Carla: how did you meet her?

Carla has been living with Roma and Sinti in Turin for fifty years, and fifty years ago she founded the Associazione Italiana Zingari Oggi (AIZO), which is spread throughout Italy. I met the association in Trentino, and was able to appreciate the extraordinary work of this association, and from there I came to meet Carla. She is an extraordinary, concrete woman who, with the many volunteers, walks together with the Roma and Sinti, above all those who live in illegal camps and in situations of greater hardship, and try to make a journey to then build a life, to motivate yourself for a life.

It is an experience that for Carla began in 1971: what reasons led her to this choice?

Carla is part of the Company of Sant’Orsola, she is consecrated, but fifty years ago, as a young student, she wanted to do some voluntary work, or perhaps go on a mission. One day he stops to give a lift to a hitchhiker who turns out to be a priest delegated to the Roma and Sinti, who proposes to the very young Carla to go and give them a hand, and so, in a completely casual way (but we know very well that chance does not exist), Providence takes her to where the Lord had a great plan for her. From a hitchhike, Carla then makes a strong choice of total sharing, and in the midst of enormous difficulties she builds what AIZO is now. And not only as material work: her spiritual role is very strong, because she is a guide, a beacon, a light, a source. Furthermore, over the years Carla has collected study materials from all over Europe and has managed to witness for the first time the enormous number of Roma and Sinti who died in the Holocaust.

The habits and conceptions of these peoples do not correspond to ours: at a certain point in the film, the house is spoken of as a prison…

Panic attacks are common the first time they try to move into an apartment. Even simple things like the punctuality of children at school prove to be very difficult: if you haven’t been to a camp you can’t understand why the child arrives at 10.00 and hasn’t washed: he hasn’t washed because perhaps the water is frozen, and then how did he get from the field to the school? These are difficult dimensions to understand. With the film we try to make the viewer want to understand more. Even the title is a phrase that was told to us by Sister Sandra, the Mother General of the Sisters of Providence: in a shelter there was a seven-year-old Roma boy who had constant panic attacks and who could not sleep . The nun held him in her arms and he said to her: “Sister Sandra, take me to see the night.” From there she understood that by taking him to the balcony every evening, and putting him to sleep outside, without a roof, she could then take him to bed to sleep peacefully.

At the beginning of the film one of the protagonists talks about the invisibility of his people.

There is a mutual difficulty, which is why in the film we wanted to bring the example of young people who represent change: a young Roma who became a stock trader and a young violinist who used to play on street corners in Argentina and is now recognized internationally. They are important stories of people who, without neglecting their identity, have managed to build a life for themselves.

The violinist also underlines the condition of women in the Roma community.

Yes, Rebecca admits that there are still many walls of prejudice to overcome, so testimonies like hers and that of Rosa, the carousel, are important testimonies of a change within their communities.

Then there is another woman who closes the film, a flamenco dancer, who defines her dance as a possibility of integration.

Andalusian flamenco has very strong origins in the gypsy world, in the gypsy world, but then it combines aspects of various cultures and elements of interreligious dialogue and therefore represents, even on a symbolic level, the possibility of a dialogue between cultures and between people. Music and dance are a message of hope.

Then there is an aspect that seems central to your film: Carla defines Jesus as “revolutionary”.

Spirituality is truly a central aspect of the film: Jesus was able to make a revolution in his world and we are all called to make it in ours, each in our own space. Carla says: “It doesn’t matter if you don’t love me, I love you.” How many obstacles she has encountered! But she never stops, the revolution of the Gospel doesn’t just stand still in words, but becomes a revolution in deeds, always with Jesus as the needle of the compass.

Listen to the podcast of the show “Guess who’s coming to lunch” with the interview with Lia Beltrami

The film “Take me to see the night”. Beltrami: spirituality, a central aspect – Vatican News