IL SANGUE VERDE di Andrea Segre (ZaLab - 2010)

La voce dei braccianti africani che hanno manifestato a Rosarno

contro lo sfruttamento e la discriminazione.

7 volti, 7 storie e un'unica dignità.

Gennaio 2010, Rosarno, Calabria. Le manifestazioni di rabbia degli immigrati mettono a nudo le condizioni di degrado e ingiustizia in cui vivono quotidianamente migliaia di braccianti africani, sfruttati da un'economia fortemente influenzata dal potere mafioso della 'Ndrangheta. Per un momento l'Italia si accorge di loro, ne ha paura, reagisce con violenza, e in poche ore Rosarno viene "sgomberata" e il problema "risolto". Ma i volti e le storie dei protagonisti degli scontri di Rosarno dicono che non è così. Scovarle e dare loro voce è oggi forse l'unica via per restituire al Paese la propria memoria: quella di quei di giorni di violenza e quella del proprio recente quanto rimosso passato di miseria rurale.
Prodotto da ZaLab in coproduzione con Aeternam Films con la collaborazione diRAI3 - Doc3 JoleFilm e la partecipazione di AAMOD con il patrocinio di Amnesty International- sezione italiana vai a credits completi


A Film by Andrea Segre
Cinematography by: Luca Bigazzi and Federico Angelucci, Matteo Calore
Film Editing by: Sara Zavarise
Original Music by: Piccola Bottega Baltazar
Produced by: Andrea Segre (ZaLab) in collaboration with Francesco Bonsembiante (Jolefilm) and Francesca Feder (Æternam Films)
(MiniDV - 57' - 2010)

January 2010, Rosarno, Calabria. Widely publicized immigrant riots exposed the unjust and squalid conditions that thousands of African laborers, exploited by an economy controlled by 'Ndrangheta, the calabrian mafia, endure on a daily basis. For a brief moment the immigrants caught the attention of the Italian public, who responded to these protests with fear and violence. In a few hours the immigrants in question were “evacuated” from Rosarno and the problem was “resolved.” But the faces and the stories of those involved in the riots at Rosarno tell a different story. Revealing these stories and giving them voice is the only way we can return to these memories: memories of those days of violence, memories of a not-so-distant history of rural poverty in Rosarno that is often overlooked.


The voices, faces and stories of those involved in the January 2010 riots in the small town of Rosarno, Calabria, brought to light the unjust and squalid conditions in which thousands of African laborers live and work. Since the Nineties, in Italy, and specifically in certain areas of Southern Italy where the presence of organized crime is widespread, thousands of immigrants from Africa and Eastern Europe are exploited in agriculture. They have no rights and their living conditions are intolerable.
In Rosarno in particular, ‘Ndrangheta control has grown exponentially in the last few years, to the point that the city council had become so thoroughly corrupted by mafia influence that it was put under the control of a prefectural commissioner. Here African immigrants are exploited as orange pickers, and have become the target of racist bullying and threats by local gangs.
As Giuseppe Levorato, who was committed to working against the ’Ndrangheta during his time as mayor of Rosarno, reveals – it has been over ten years that the African immigrants have tried to bring attention to this situation peacefully.
On January 7th 2010, after yet another racist attack against four laborers, the immigrants of Rosarno let their anger fuel an explosive riot, which included looting and destruction..
Those hours of rioting were for many Italians a first introduction to these laborers, and they reacted with fear and responded with force. Berlusconi’s administration, via the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Defense, made a statement that the riots were the result of “too much tolerance for illegal immigration,” and ordered the deportation of all immigrants from Rosarno. Meanwhile the Italian citizens of the region planned a “manhunt” of “the blacks,” an effort likely organized by the local mafia.
 In a few hours the immigrants were “cleared” from Rosarno and the problem was “resolved.” To forge a consensus among the fearful Italian public, politicians stated on television that legality had been restored and that undocumented immigrants would soon be deported from Italy.
This wasn’t what happened.
In the days following, a silence fell over these events, almost all of Rosarno’s immigrants had been released and abandoned in various cities in Italy: from Caserta to Rome, Napoli to Castelvolturno; others decided immediately to return in secret to Rosarno’s orange groves.
It was in these various places, a few days after the riots, that we with met laborers involved in the riots and asked them to tell us not only what had happened, but also to describe their life in Italy.
The result is a story told in first person, alternating with historical memory as represented in Giuseppe Lavorato’s reconstructions, and images from documentaries from the 1960s about farmers in Southern Italy. A story that refocuses our attention to the dignity and the courage of hundreds of men who have left their homelands to save or change their lives.


My idea was to make a film based on the two essentials of documentary cinema: the spoken thought and the narration of a region. What I didn’t want to do was describe the surface of the difficult situation of exploited foreign workers and the racism that accompanies it - even if this aspect is important too. Instead I wanted to try to engage with the human profundity of someone who lives and thinks in this situation. With this film I want to try and bring the audience closer to the intimacy and dignity of a condition we face every day but haven’t yet resolved: the condition of foreign workers who are exploited, isolated and deprived of their rights.
I started with my curiosity.
I want to understand what lives in the heart, in the soul, in the mind of someone who realizes the injustice he is enduring, but all he’s able to do is just to try and survive.
Someone living a historical limbo, between the complete lack of rights for immigrant workers and the initial struggles for these rights.  
Someone who lives in a country where a “Second State,”, the Mafia, does indeed exist and is powerful beyond control, and where rebellion against this power is very dangerous. 
Someone who lives in a country that has yet to reflect on its history of emigration. A country where a xenophobic party, the Northern League (Lega Nord), controls the Ministry of the Interior. 
Someone who lives in a cCountry where the mass media is still almost entirely incapable of expressing the voice of its foreign citizens, and corrals them in a narrow space between compassion and fear, victimization and criminalization.
I want to give these people the time to listen to me, to listen to us, and to understand me, to understand us. I want to reveal the points of view we usually don’t have the courage to acknowledge, to share, to respect. I want to discover their emotions, sensations, thoughts, as well as their opinions and critiques.
Immigrants are not objects belonging to an emergency or a problem. They are people who live, suffer, smile, enjoy, labor, reflect, decide. But in order to do all these things they first have to fight against the public facade (not private, not subjective) of “immigrant.”

Andrea Segre


Below are descriptions of the guys I interviewed for the film.  Each interview took place in the language that they felt was the most appropriate for telling their story: English, French and, for one of them, Djoula, the African dialect of Casamance).

ABRAHAM, a 30-year-old Ghanaian, lives in Pescopagano, a small town near Castelvolturno that is nearly empty of Italians residents; most of the inhabitants are African. He received humanitarian protection after living eleven months in immigrant accommodation, where he thought he might go crazy. He then moved to Rosarno, because there was nothing else to do. He is extremely gentle and analytical.

JOHN, a 34-year-old Ghanaian. lives in Afragola in a cold, musty and old basement apartment. After a few bureaucratic mishaps he obtained his Italian residence permit in March 2010. He has worked as a farmer in Rosarno and all across Southern Italy since 2007. He describes, with great clarity, the changes over the years and about the relationships between Africans and the people of Rosarno. He talks about his choice to protest the violence in Rosarno.

AMADOU, a 24-year-old Senegalese, has a regular residence permit and lives between the wealthy town of Conegliano (Tivoli) and Rosarno, where we met him still “in hiding” in a house in the middle of an orange grove. The house is actually a shed, with no light or water. There are fifteen men living there, awaiting work. They left after the riots, but two weeks later they returned. Before the economic crisis, Amadou worked as a carpenter, with a regular contract, in Conegliano.

ZONGO, a 28-year-old Burkinan, lives in Caserta. He appealed against the Commission for political asylum’s rejection of his application and has just recently obtained refugee status. He lives in immigrant accommodation at the ex-Canapificio Social Center. He is a rapper and actively takes part in the promotion of migrants’ rights. Since 2008 he has worked in the fields: tobacco, broccoli, peaches, tomatoes, oranges— he has harvested just about everything. His trip to Italy was incredibly difficult, he endured the most brutal treatment by the Libyan police and took part in prison rebellions in Libya. One thing you can say about him:  he’s tough.

ABRAHAM, a 28-year-old Ivorian, lives in Caserta with Zongo. He obtained political asylum as refugee from the Ivorian Civil War. His dream was to become a soccer player, but he’s ended up as a farmer. He too has done all kinds of work. In Rosarno was wounded in the same arm that had been injured by the Libyan police. He is more gentle and soft-spoken than Zongo, who he met on the boat to Italy. Now they are very good friends.

JAMADU, a 35-year-old Congolese, is temporarily in Rome. His emigration story is complex, as it emerges from his desire for travel rather than from a specific necessity. He never settled in one place, but traveled constantly around Southern Italy looking for work as a farmer. He spent three years in Rosarno, before his escape following the riots. Today lives in Rome’s ex-Snia Social Center, together with twenty-five other Africans who fled Rosarno. He doesn’t know what he’ll do or where he’ll go next.

KALIFA, a 32-year-old Ivorian, is temporarily in Rome. He had a good life, a stable job and a high level of professional training as a poultry breeder. Then war broke out in the Ivory Coast and he fled. In Italy he found only street life and new slavery (as he likes to call it). Nonetheless, Italy is the country that recently gave him humanitarian protection and official documents. But that’s not enough. Life is still incredibly difficult. He knows things won’t change, and he will continue to be a slave, albeit a protected slave. His only consolation is the thought one day he can teach his children many things about the world (he has two sons). He is a man of profound depth, and his silences say more than his words.

GIUSEPPE LAVORATO, a 74-year-old Italian, is the former mayor and former delegate of Rosarno. Since the beginning he has been an activist for the Italian Communist Party.  He has fought alongside the laborers and farmers in Rosarno, building a forceful anti-mafia movement that led Rosarno to be the first Comune to appear as a civil plaintiff in an anti-mafia lawsuit. During his time as mayor (from 1995 to 2003) he worked to welcome the immigrant workers and build a dialogue between them and the citizens of Rosarno. Today he has left politics and represents a crucial historical reminder for Rosarno’s community.

There’s one final short but important interview, of a Ghanaian, SALIS, a rastaman whom we met in the Opera Sila Factory, where 1500 Africans lived before they were forced out of Rosarno. While we were filming the factory was empty, but it was still full of clothing, shoes, food, tents, blankets, documents, books, photos, and all the belongings left behind by the African laborers when they escaped. The Ghanaian was looking for something, and we followed him. 

"Metaponto, via del tabacco" by Libero Bizzarri (1966)
"Essere Donne" by Cecilia Mangini (1965)
"Noi contadini" by Antonio Martini (1971)
"La Radiografia della Miseria" by Piero Nelli (1967)

Thanks to the collaboration with AAMOD - Archivio Audiovisivo del Movimento Operaio e Democratico and Libero Bizzarri Foundation.

Besides the original music by Piccola Bottega Baltazar, who has collaborated with Andrea Segre for over three years (The Bad Shadow, Like a Man on Earth and Maybe Things Will Change), the soundtrack of the film also includes music by THE XX, K'naan and Giovan Battista Pergolesi.