Italian independent filmmaker Antonio Spanò has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help complete his latest work Inner Me, a short documentary film about being female and deaf in Congo, a society that sees deafness as a demonic possession. The film weaves together the stories of Immaculée, Jemima, Sylvie and Stuka, four deaf women struggling for dignity and survival in the city of Butembo, in North Kivu, Congo.
After graduating from the University of Siena, Antonio decided to leave a career in law so that he could pursue his love for filmmaking. He shot his first documentary in Kurdistan, Iraq when he was 22 years old. Inner Me is Antonio’s third film based in Congo after The Silent Chaos and Animal Park, which have been screened in several countries around the world and won many awards in 2013 and 2014.
While filming The Silent Chaos, a film about what war is like in Congo, from the perceptive if people who are deaf, he captured the contradictions of a society where supernatural beliefs make diversity seem like a threat. People who can’t hear and can’t be heard are ostracised as if they have no reason to exist. Deaf people are forced to live like ghosts in their own villages, banished outcasts in a country defined by war.
Entirely self-financed, Inner Me is a continuation of his work to help the voiceless narrate their own powerful stories, this time from the perspective of the women.
In Congo women’s voices are rarely heard, and being deaf marginalises a woman even more. The film highlights both the marginalisation of people with disabilities and the normalisation of widespread violence and oppression against women in Congo, who are victims of a systemic rape culture.
While following Jemima, the story’s guide, through the dusty red roads of Butembo, we see the three other women, Immaculée, Stuka and Sylvie. Through their eyes and intimate reflections, the women share their powerful stories of struggle and survival. revealing the beautiful resilience of the human spirit.
“He knew that nobody would believe the story of a deaf person, because people think we are freaks… or evil.” – Sylvie
“Deaf people use their body to speak. We need to be looked at closely, but it’s hard for us just to be seen.” – Immaculée
Antonio hopes this film will inspire its audience to reflect on the deeper meanings of the film, which are universal to all of us. At its heart Inner Me is a story about women, courage and the power of communication and relationships in our lives.
Inner Me is our inner voice. That voice that is so clear within us, but that we all have had difficulties revealing to the world. Communication and relationships are primal necessities for all of us. Deaf people are the example of the effort it takes to communicate our Inner Me.
The funds raised through the Kickstarter campaign will cover the costs for post-production and submissions to international film festivals in 2016. Kickstarter is an ‘all or nothing’ platform. That means the project will only receive funding if it reaches 100% of its target goal of €14,000 (about £10,000) by the funding deadline on December 22.
To learn more about the project, please visit: www.innermemovie.com
By Aurelia Palmarin