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Best International Short Documentary


Nizami Film Center




Sonallus is the story of an ex-goat shepherd, Elio, who restores cowbells; a sort of rattlesmith who devotes his time to finding the right sound to make the goats feel comfortable. Assuming that goats are very independent animals and tend to move freely, go up mountains, climb rather steep walls, the relationship with the shepherd is very special, it must first and foremost be one of 'trust'. The interest is to investigate whether the shepherds take on certain characteristics identified in the species they breed, such as vigour, independence, intelligence. This man-animal 'relationship' is expressed both as a connection and as a dialogue with 'animality', with the environment, but also with oneself. The shepherd's action is therefore intended not so much to enslave nature as to know it in order to be able to interact with it, favouring and indulging certain expressions over others. In fact, the goatherds rather than imposing their will on the animals, limit themselves to encouraging certain of their spontaneous propensities by favouring the organisation of shared processes. Goat shepherds and their animals share a great sensitivity to sounds, and shepherds commonly believe that the 'tuned' sounds of cowbells also appeal to goats. Elio in his craft workshop, a sort of lutherie for rattles, dedicates a lot of time to the working of bells; the metal is forged and brass-plated: the size, height, mouth opening, cocooning, thickness, size and weight are important for tuning and tonality; he also takes care of listening to each piece by comparing it with others, trying to tune them to precise pitches and frequencies according to a certain harmonic scale. Moreover, in this old workshop used as a lutherie for jingle bells, we witness the passage between two generations: Elio's, rich in experience and generous in passing on his know-how, and the younger one. The intelligence of the hands and the legitimate pride in one's work being passed from father to son!

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