Libero by Thomas Kunstler: The Skinny Short Film Competition 2015

Shortlisted in The Skinny Short Film Competition 2015, director Thomas Kunstler and producer Matias Gaggiotti explains the ideas, inspirations and processes behind their film Libero

Video | 07 Aug 2015

Filmmakers' statement:

"A poetic portrait of a ghost village and its lonely hermit in the southern Italian mountains."

This film was directed by Thomas Kunstler (Italian) and produced by Matias Gaggiotti (American-Argentinian) and Thomas Kunstler, with camera by Dimitris Lambridis (Greek) and Matias Gaggiotti. We met at University for the Creative Arts Farnham and in our second year we produced a documentary shot in the mountains surrounding Rome and Lazio about the Italian rural exodus and the slow fading away of a valley's culture and dialect. The documentary, entitled The Great Rest, was fairly successful and was selected for the Watersprite Film Festival in the documentary category. Energised with the success, we decided to further explore some of the themes from The Great Rest, but with a more personal point of view and in a slightly poetic manner.

During late 2014 we heard about a hermit living in a southern Italian village abandoned since the early 1900s. He had been photographed by National Geographic and other publications but no one had ever really made a documentary about him. We felt that he was an interesting subject and the director went to find him and meet him over the Christmas holidays. Looking back at the research footage and the photos collected from the trip, we started building a plan to fly over to Italy and drive up to this remote location in the southern Italian mountains to spend a couple of weeks documenting the life of the Hermit: Giusseppe 'Libero Abusivo' Spagnolo.

Initially we set out to try and understand why a man would choose to live so isolated from society in a village that had been deemed unsafe and evacuated over 100 years ago. In the process we wanted to capture a few images of Italy's rural past. Documentaries, of course, evolve and change during the process of filming and editing. After spending over two weeks in the area of the village Roscigno Vecchia, and editing together the hours of footage, we had a different looking film. What resulted was a mood piece portrait about the ghost village featuring its cast of cats, goats and cows with the hermit serving as the guide, telling us about his story and relationship with the village. In the end the film acts as an elegy to a past way of living and an ethos of living in the moment.


What do you do and why do you do it?
We make short documentaries around Europe, about places we feel a connection to or are intrigued by. They're personal stories for us. As to why we do this? We do it because we could not do anything else. We're not too sure how to do anything else either.

Where did the initial idea for your film come from?
Director Thomas Kunstler says: The idea comes from my fascination for Southern Italian folk tradition, music and stories, and I think this documentary contains all these elements.

Producer Matias Gaggiotti says:  The director brought to my attention the character of Libero and the stories about him in magazines and papers. He had this incredible looking face and the idea of this man living alone in a crumbling old Italian mountain village was so intriguing that we just had to go and film him. We're interested in old Mediterranean-European cultures and that way of life, which is currently fading away. This man seemed intent on staying with those old traditions and old way of life and we wanted to find out more as to why and how.

Describe your film in five words?
Italian - Musical - Dreams - Mountains - With one's self.

What excites you most about filmmaking?
Surely traveling and having the chance to get in touch with different people is a big part of it. However, the most exciting aspect is that with film you can give life to your vision and dreams.

What advice would you give other filmmakers?
Sorry, but we're not ones for answering such questions... make sure the lens cap is off.


Director - Thomas Kunstler
Produced by - Matias Gaggiotti, Thomas Kunstler, Silvia Peduto
Photography by - Dimitris Lambridis, Matias Gaggiotti
Sound recording - Matias Gaggiotti, Thomas Kunstler
Editing - Thomas Kunstler
Music Composed by - Emilio Luongo

A bit about the crew:

We are all BA Film Production students (or soon-to-be graduates within a week) at the University for the Creative Arts Farnham. Thomas grew up in Rome before moving to the UK to live in London and then go to university. Dimitris Lambridis grew up in Athens before moving to New York to study photography and then England to study film. Matias Gaggiotti grew up between several different countries before moving to England to study film and specialise in cinematography. All three have a strong passion for documentary filmmaking and together we produce short documentaries shot around Europe (we produced another documentary alongside Libero entitled Athens: City of Dogs). We work together armed only with cameras, some sound kit and the cheapest Ryan Air flights one can buy.

Learn more about The Skinny Short Film Competition and watch more short films at our Short Film Competition portal, and check out the full shortlist for The Skinny Short Film Competition.