Toronto International Film Festival 2019
Honourable Mention Platform Competition
In a decaying forest on the Yugoslav-Italian border in the years after World War II, a stingy, old carpenter and a lonely, young chestnut seller share imaginative memories of the past as they weigh fateful decisions for the future, in this touching homage to a lost way of life.
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Once upon a time, somewhere in a far-off land, lived an elderly husband and wife. The old woman fell sick and died, and the old man, a stingy carpenter, found himself alone. Pondering the life he had lived, he met a young woman, a chestnut seller who desperately wanted to leave home and find a better life overseas. Surrounded by nothing but the rudimentary nature these lonely souls share fond memories as well as contemplation of their futures. Should they remain haunted by a life that was, or does another path call, joining countless others on the rickety cart to a life unknown?
Daily survival had a continued meaning for the people on the border of the newly re-formed Yugoslavia and Italy in the wake of World War II. Local inhabitants found themselves stuck on the Iron Curtain dividing the East from the West. For countless reasons, mass migrations between the lands inevitably followed. It is in one such location, Slavia-Veneta, along the Italian-Slovenian border, that the spellbinding Stories From The Chestnut Woods takes place.
Within the forest lives the Stingy Carpenter, Mario (Massimo De Francovich). Stubborn in his old age, Mario is known for his unflappable competitive nature and for his preoccupations with income. He fails to notice his wife's descent into illness, one among several missed opportunities to care for his loved ones. Mario tries to impart his hard-gained wisdom to Marta (Ivana Roscic), the Last Chestnut Seller, who has been left to tend the chestnut groves after her husband's departure. In their decaying surroundings, these lonely souls share fond memories — transformed into imaginative tales — and melancholic contemplations of their futures. Should they remain, haunted by a life that was, or does another path call: joining countless others on the rickety cart to world unknown?
A passion for pomology led director Gregor Bozic to harvest stories of the farmers who lived along the border where the chestnuts once grew. Cultivating vibrant beauty in each 35mm frame, accompanied by an ethereal theremin score, Bozic captures the poetic impermanence of their joy, sorrow, and loss in this stunning debut, a touching homage to a forgotten land and its displaced people.
Cast Massimo De Francovich, Ivana Roščić
Crew Director: Gregor Božič
Screenplay: Marina Gumzi & Gregor Božič
Cinematography: Ferran Paredes Rubio
Editing: Gregor Božič, Benjamin Mirguet, Giuseppe Leonetti
Production Designer: Giovanna Cirianni
Sound: Jan Vysocky, Julij Zornik
Original Score: Hekla Magnúsdóttir
Producer: Marina Gumzi
Production Companies: NOSOROGI (Slovenia), Transmedia
Production (Italy), RTV Slovenia (Slovenia), DFFB (Germany)
Original Title Zgodbe Iz Kostanjevih Gozdov
Language Slovene, Italian
Length 81 mins
Shooting Format 35mm, S16mm
Format DCP | Colour | 5.1
Toronto International Film Festival 2019 (Discovery)/... more to be announced !
Born in 1984 in Nova Gorica, a Slovenian town on the border with Italy, Gregor has maintained a keen Interested in photography since boyhood. He studied directing at Slovene national film school, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome and at DFFB in Berlin. Apart from working as a film director and director of photography, most notably together with the director Matjaž Ivanišin (Playing Men, 2017 and Oroslan, 2019), Gregor is also a passionate researcher of Mediterranean pomology.
In 2012, he conducted a vast research on old and autochthonous fruit varieties, in which he collaborated with old farmers from the Italo- Slovene borderland. It was during this time that he collected numerous memories and stories from the 20th century, which inspired him to make Stories from the Chestnut Woods.
“This story draws inspiration from the Valli del Natisone border region between Italy and present-day Slovenia. We’ve tried to transmit the spirit of this particular environment that for centuries was prone to political instabilities and constant migrations. We wanted to create a fable-like parable about life and death in forgotten, abandoned places, a film to feel like a soft and distant memory.”