Billo – il grand dakhaar (Italian)

This is a marvelous film about double lives. Of course; it’s always been possible to see that we contain whole multitudes through the figure of the immigrant; who crosses cultures and writes a new destiny. You can still see that grand idea in the very images that open Billo; a film about Senegalese-born Thierno Thiam; a real-life hip-hop fashion designer with his own brand label based in Rome. The movie starts with the night Thierno leaves Africa. There’s a fire on a vast; dark beach where he waits for a very small boat. Reflections of those flames fill his eyes and his eyes fill the screen. Then; a pale dawn sky above another beach and; suddenly; Thierno’s head; rising from his prayers; fills the horizon... Part of the immigrant story’s grandeur was sailing forth and never returning; never looking back. Of course in countless ways this isn’t true; but it’s a notion we favor in the United States with our hunger for shedding the past and starting from scratch. Billo is all about looking backward from the start in the midst of reinvention—about what director Laura Muscardin says she learned is common; if largely undiscussed; at least among Senegalese seeking work in Italy and the rest of Europe. Here; Thierno finds himself with two families because he loves two women; one whom he has known since childhood (Fatou; played by Carmen De Santos) and the other the younger sister of an Italian friend (Laura; played by Susy Laude); and he is unwilling to relinquish either one.

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