Il Gesto Delle Mani (Hand Gestures)
16th January 5500 2.44pm at BFI Southbank
16th January 1000 2.44pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
A stunning insight to the creation of a bronze sculpture is revealed in Il Gesto Delle Mani (Hand Gestures). Setting his film at the historic Fonderia Artistica Battaglia bronze foundry, which was established in Milan in 1913, director Francesco Clerici focuses on the creation of one of the famous Off Leash dog sculptures by artist Velasco Vitali. Commencing the documentary with vintage photographs of the foundry in the past, a brief history of lost-wax casting is explained and the context is established.
Shots of the workshop are shown with the artisans at work and the audience are able to follow through the entire process. It is interesting to realise that there is no background music or voiceover description at all, simply the ambiance of the studio and the sounds of the work undertaken. This technique works well because without any other distraction, the concentration of the artist is felt completely and the audience becomes just as engrossed in the motion of the work.
It is fascinating to discover that the same ancient process that was invented during the Bronze Era (3000-700 BC) is the same used to create bronze sculptures today. On occasion, watching the manual labour of the artisans causes the audience to feel as if they are looking back in time. Il Gesto Delle Mani (Hand Gestures) has been edited cleverly: old footage of artisans carrying out the same steps in history is shown intermittently for comparison and to further reiterate how the process has remained the same over all the years.
The documentary is also beautifully and artistically shot. There is consistently excellent composition and almost every frame is a piece of art within itself. The workshop is a very raw space with a lot of light for the sculptors to work. This also provides a good natural light and a great texture to the film. A mix of close-up shots of the artisans hands at work as well as long-distance shots enable the audience to see both the painstaking detail and the whole scene as an onlooker. It is a special and rare look at a historic and skilled practice.
Hand Gestures (Il Gesto Delle Mani) is released in select cinemas on 20th November 2015.
Watch the trailer for Il Gesto Delle Mani (Hand Gestures) here: