Memories That Make Us: Stories of post World War 2 Italian migration to Australia
LocationAsti International Film Festival
Place of publicationGeelong, Vic.
NotesMemories That Make Us: stories of post World War 2 Italian migration to Australia is a feature length ethnographic documentary film that draws on the individual and collective memories of ordinary Italian migrants who made Victoria, Australia their home after the end of the second world war. From the ruins of post world war two Italy, hundreds of thousands of people migrated to Australia, part of the largest documented migration in history. This film shines a light on some of the cultural and social stories these migrants came with and were met by and how these stories transformed over time, offering a profound reminiscence and ensuring a generation of stories are not lost. These are the stories of Australia, of the challenges and achievements of migration - the memories that make us all.
The film emerges from a long-term research project conducted at Deakin University led by Toija CInque, Martin Potter and Sean Redmond with the support of the Italian Assistance Association CO.AS.IT in collaboration with senior researcher and Il Globo journalist Riccardo Schirru and multi-cultural communications expert and project manager Fotis Kapetopolous.
The story reaches back over almost 100 years, spanning countries and oceans, reflecting massive global shifts catalysed through war, politics and social attitudes. The migration story moves from the rise of fascism, through the second world war, the devastation of Italian city/ies and countryside and the waves of post-war migration that rippled out across Europe, America and Australia. Of the 33,000 Italians who migrated to Australia between 1947 and 1950 (preceding another 170,000+ in the 50s and early 60s) many came from the south of Italy. Between 1951 and 1968, around 42,000 Italians arrived under the assisted passage agreement between Australia and Italy. Around 80% were sponsored by relatives or paesani (people from the same region), some of who had arrived in Australia before the Second World War. Those selected for assisted passage came on the condition that they took whatever work and accommodation was offered for a period of two years. Many were recruited in Italy for projects like the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. Others were sent to the steelworks in Newcastle and Wollongong, or employed in the engineering and textile factories that were springing up in major cities. Following the end of their contracts the majority of migrants from this time settled in the inner suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney and radically transformed the social, cultural, political and economic lives of these cities.
Through a series of chapters, individual and collective ‘memory keepers’ reflect on their own memories and how their journeys have intersected with the memories and journeys of others. These memory keepers talk, and walk, us through their memories and the moments, objects and spaces that contain those memories. The complex interweaving of these memories allows both the memory keepers and the audience to step back for a ‘synpotic view’ of our selves both individually and collectively and to see the traces and layers - the palimpsest of memories - that makes 'us'. Memories that Make Us documents the stories that these intimate recollections reveal, and how the rhythms of personal memory bear witness to national history in the making.
Research statementMemories That Make Us: stories of post World War 2 Italian migration to Australia is a feature length ethnographic documentary film that draws on the individual and collective memories of ordinary Italian migrants who made Victoria, Australia their home after the end of the second world war. The film emerges from a long-term research project conducted at Deakin University led by Toija CInque, Martin Potter and Sean Redmond with the support of the Italian Assistance Association CO.AS.IT.
The research is theoretically innovative, complementing its distinct creative ethnographic based methodologies. Drawing on the phenomenology of the lived experience (Nayak, 2003, Trimboli, 2020), the cultural understanding of ‘home’ (Farred, 2009, Hage, 1997) and storytelling (Redmond, 2019), the project seeks not simply to record and preserve the migrant experience but to story it. The documentary curates a shared ‘past’ and creates a living history for all generations to gather around and learn from, shining a light on some of the cultural and social stories post-war Italian migrants came with and how these stories transformed over time. The research:
•tCreates new knowledge about how migrants form positive community identities, leading to wider social cohesion benefits as this knowledge is cascaded
•tDevelops a new relationship between theoretical, empirical and creative practice academic work, leading to innovation in migration research methodologies
•tImaginatively transforms the way data is collected, translated and shared through the unique creative mediation of its findings
•tDevelops a new creative practice and inter-generational participatory model that will be transferable and scalable to other communities and places
The project, completed late October 2021, debuted at New York International Film Awards and won Best Ethnographic Film and was nominated for Best Documentary. Italian premiere: Asti International Film Festival.
Publication classificationJR1 Recorded/Rendered Creative Works – Film/Video
Extent1 x feature documentary (72 minutes)
Editor/Contributor(s)Fotis Kapetopoulos, Riccardo Schirru
Recognition, awards & prizesWinner Best Ethnographic Film, New York International Film Awards
Nominated Best Documentary, New York International Film Awards
Official Selection: Asti International Film Festival, Italy; Fiorenzo Serra Film Festival, Italy
Received competitive and other cat. 4 funding through CO.AS.IT and Department of Premier and Cabinet.
EventNew York International Film Awards
PublisherDeakin University and CO.AS.IT