The Film: People of Flour, Salt, and Water
People of Flour, Salt, and Water (9/9)

The Film: People of Flour, Salt, and Water

People of Flour, Salt, and Water is the second film made by Chto Delat as part of their series “Slow Orientation in Zapatismo.”

A film by Chto Delat (Olga Tsaplya Egorova, Nina Gasteva, Dmitry Vilensky, Nikolay Oleynikov) & Free Home University, 2019

Produced by Free Home University, curated by Alessandra Pomarico and Nikolay Oleynikov, with the support of Musagetes (Canada), and Regione Puglia.

Shot in Castiglione d’Otranto, Apulia, Italy, 2019

Director: Olga Tsaplya Egorova
Choreography: Nina Gasteva
First camera: Mattia Epifani (MUUD Films)
Second camera: Dmitry Vilensky, Nikolay Oleynikov, Giacomo Goldoni
Sound: Elina Lebedze

Participants: Rebaz Ahmed, Modou Ceesay, Augustine Emanuel, Giacomo Goldoni, Ebrima Kayeteh, Aglaya Oleynikova, Friday Okodogbe, Christian Peverieri, Emiliano Peverieri, Alessandra Pomarico, Luigi Schiavano, Donatella Serafino, Rita Tamiello, and Asya Vilenskaya

People of Flour, Salt, and Water is the second film made by Chto Delat as part of their series Slow Orientation in Zapatismo. The film was conceived as a learning process, providing a framework, a method, and a way to formally organize what was learned during the 2019 summer session of Free Home University, hosted in Castiglione d’Otranto (South of Italy). The process unfolded around three major struggles: that of local farmer-activists who are protecting and regenerating their land, and producing forms of sharing and commoning; the struggle of the refugees, migrants, and displaced people; and the struggle of young artists and activists trying to make sense of it all. Zapatismo was the lens through which participants analyzed their own stories, conditions, and possibilities, providing the group with a set of tools and a praxis with which to resonate.

During the making of the film, the participants engaged in several exercises, one of which was called “A Land We Can Call Our Own” whereby they painted a large table as a map of an imaginary land, with rivers, mountains, fields, and the sea. They also made characters out of dough: a dog to keep the thieves away, a duck and her ducklings, a refugee boat, a tree of life, and even a small Ghanaian Village. This land and its vulnerable ecosystem, including its inhabitants, became the backdrop for stories and relations to emerge, intertwined with those of the participants. As a result, the film is a fiction deeply grounded in their lived experience.

People of Flour, Salt, and Water became a film those of us on the team could call home, particularly thanks to the leading role of women guiding a process centred on care. The film’s director, Tsaplya Olga Egorova, and choreographer, Nina Gasteva, both members of Chto Delat, proposed storytelling, theatrical, and somatic exercises that helped the building of trust, intimacy, and collective work. Alessandra Pomarico of Free Home University guided a reading group, opening up the fables of Subcomandante Marcos to invite a multilingual translation as a way to position the group and their own struggles. As the local hostess, she also made sure that everyone was well-fed, well-rested, feeling good, and heard. Composer Elina Lebedze added sonic experiments and sound-based explorations to the process. Donatella Serafino taught how to make fresh pasta, shared many songs, and recipes, and the struggle she participates in as an activist of Casa delle Agriculture. Asya and Glasha—daughters, artists, activists, and learners—held the common space with fierce care and sharp questions.

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