Imagine you wake up one day only to discover that a husband has been found for you, the wedding is in three months and, before then, you’re going to have to put on a lot of weight. Mauritania’s oppressive custom of gavage involves fattening up women like geese for foie gras. Verida surrenders to this custom ten times a day, much like a model being forced to slim down before a show. The film focuses not on the body but on images of the surroundings: the folds of fabrics at the market reminiscent of greasy skin, flies hovering around food. The protagonist is shown in contrast to her more liberally raised friends and also at the ceremony of wengali, where the other women, in solidarity with the bride, help her reach the right weight for her wedding. On the one hand, there are weight-gaining tablets called dreg dreg, and, on the other, there is the tradition of force-feeding the bride-to-be an entire lamb and 16 liters of milk, known as el leila. The documentary aspect of this story leaves a lasting impression. The objectification of the female body and women’s lifestyle choices are, in another form, the same problems women are facing in the West. In making her feature debut, Michela Occhipinti tells a moving story and sounds a warning to women that the sooner they reclaim ownership of their bodies and their lives, the better.
Michela Occhipinti started her career with Viva la Pepa! (Give Us Back the Constitution) about the crisis in Argentina and Sei Uno Nero about radio in Malawi. Her documentary debut landed a number of awards, including at the Camerimage Festival. Letters from the Desert (Eulogy to Slowness) tells the extraordinary story of a postal worker who delivers parcels to people separated from civilization by sand. With this poetic work of slow cinema, Occhipinti added her voice the debate about technology, which, in speeding up our lives, is in fact shortening them.
2010 Listy z pustyni / Lettere dal Deserto (Elogio della Lentezza) / Letters from the Desert / Eulogy to Slowness (doc.)
2019 Flesh Out