Hand Gestures

Francesco Clerici / Italy / 2015 / 77 min
Sat 7 May, 18.00

Dutch premiere. With an introduction by the filmmaker, and a Q&A moderated by writer and film historian Helen Westerik.

This documentary film follows the process of creating one of Velasco Vitali’s famous dog sculptures, from wax to glazed bronze, at Fonderia Artistica Battaglia (Battaglia Artistic Foundry), in Milan. The film observes the work of a group of skilled artisans in this 100-year old foundry and reveals the ancient traditions of bronze sculpture making, unchanged since the Sixth century B.C. These traditions are not taught in school, but are passed on in the ancient oral tradition and through apprenticeships from artisans.

Hand Gestures observes the work of Fonderia Artistica Battaglia: a place where the past and present share the same gestures and where each gesture is a sculpture itself. The individual stages in the creation process are interspersed with historical images of the foundry, revealing a continuity that spans decades. It is the hands and their gestures that link us to the world and create a connecting line from the past to the present.

Winner FIPRESCI Prize - Berlin International Film Festival 2015

About the director

Francesco Clerici earned a Master’s Degree in Art History and Criticism from the University of Milan. Francesco is the artistic assistant, writer, filmmaker and project manager for the Italian artist Velasco Vitali. Since 2009 Francesco collaborates with CICAE (International Federation of Arthouse Cinemas), documenting and developing training for exhibitors at Venice Film Festival. He regularly publishes articles and essays on cinema and art in various Italian magazines and journals. Hand Gestures is first feature documentary.



"Austere, meditative, inscrutable, fascinating – Hand Gestures is the kind of documentary that is made all too rarely in this age of spoonfed soundbites and burbling talking heads"
– The Guardian

"This is observational filmmaking at its most fundamental. Hand Gestures lends itself (...) to mystical interpretations. The editing is snappy and every scene demonstrates a crucial part of the process. Director Francesco Clerici (...) is a very efficient filmmaker. This is the strange thrill of the creative process that Hand Gestures seeks to convey, knowing full well that any attempt at explanation would only detract from it."
– Sight & Sound

"Mesmerising, revealing and wondrously atmospheric, this is an intimate and defly observed study of the collaborative nature of creativity and craftsmanship that reveals how methods dating from classical antiquity are still used in a Milanese foundry to create bronze sculptures."
- Empire


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