A film by Suranga Katugampala
Director / director of photography Suranga D. Katugampala Script Suranga D. Katugampala and Simona Cella Assistant camera Andrea Sestu Sound recordist Federico Allocca Art directors Alessandra Orlando and Prasad Hettiarachchi
The film is located in an experimental and unprecedented territory on the border between noir and documentary. The development phase (2019-2021) made possible by the funding of RaiCinema, Mibact and private foundations led to the drafting of the screenplay, the definition of the technical / artistic crew and the identification of the locations.
Thanks to a financial and in-kind contribution, Kaiya Collective made possible the first part of the shooting, those in Sri Lanka, which took place in the months of June and July 2022.
A runaway woman hides with her two children in Tuarith, a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of a metropolis. Convinced that she is now trapped, she entrusts her children to her ex-husband and leaves for Port Khala // 44, a futuristic Chinese city on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
My first film, For a Son, was born from an obsession: to make a first film starting from stories, places and techniques that I knew well.
The obsession with cinema led me to a new ambitious project that required 3 years of development. Together with Simona Cella, co-writer and Manjula Wediwardena, consultant, I have accumulated a lot of material: photos, recordings, interviews, visual notes. We have carried out workshops, explorations in Corvetto (Milan) and Slave Island (Colombo-Sri Lanka) districts and made projects like Urban Tropical, which is a multidisciplinary path of "broad" cinematographic practices that surround the film with hybrid artistic objects that actively involve the territory, its memory and inhabitants.
Still Here is a film that moves on the border between noir and documentary. The story is condensed around the mystery of Nico. The sudden disappearance of the woman creates the void of expectation and fear around which the initiation path into adult life of her children, Irene and Iman, takes shape. A painful journey that, through the cruel games of the Tuarith and the mysteries of the swamp and the abandoned port, will lead them to accept the disappearance of their mother.
The courtyards of Corvetto. The labyrinthine streets on the outskirts of Port City. Light, day and night. Sudden blackouts. Mysteries, ambiguities, eccentric characters. A femme fatale. Disenchantment and bewilderment. Elements and suggestions that we have mastered to bring the script into a neo-noir territory. Still Here is a visual journey, played on an increasingly subtle relationship between the enveloping darkness and the precarious sources of light.
I followed the desire to tell an extract of reality, in itself twisted and surreal, through the lens of genre cinema. The documentary aspect is strengthened by the participation of non-professional actors who have poured their lives into my story.
The non-professional actors who will play Nico, Irene, Iman, Jasmine and many others, have been found after a long in-depth search in the Corvetto neighborhood. Unlike the classic castings, we have inhabited the locations of the film for a long time. Time, in this sense, was a dominant factor. The screenplay was thus modeled around the bodies of the characters and the places in the neighborhood.
The film is set inside an imaginary geography. Through a contamination of images and sounds Port City became Port Khala//44 and a collage between Corvetto, Slave Island and the marshes became the Tuarith.
Photographs of the past of Irma, Nico, Jasmine, images of Porto di Mare are open gaps in the narrative. The past bursts into the present not only narratively but also aesthetically, taking us to other visual dimensions.
The scenography work is focused on a careful selection of the existing.
The internal and external environments are for the most part taken from reality. The scenographic interventions are light and made with an idea of redeveloping disused spaces and recycling of materials.
The posters and flyers scattered on the walls of the courtyards of Corvetto and Slave Island are included in the scenography and together with the archive images and the contents of the television they inhabit the film in the form of backgrounds and full-screen images, in a perspective of experimental opening.
The crew is light. The work is organized in a fluid way. The inconspicuous set allows you to always maintain an open relationship with reality, with non-professional actors. We proceed free, certain that we have absorbed the script and without being excessively constrained by it. We are moved by a profound memory of the story and of the characters. For this you are free to improvise.