Powerful film captures Maghaberry inmates' exploration of Italian drama

The documentary "La leggenda del pianista a Maghaberry" ("The Legend of the Pianist in Maghaberry") will be screened in Belfast's Crescent Arts Centre on December 2
Digital staff

A film capturing the experiences of a group of inmates at Maghaberry prison who embarked on an intensive Italian and drama workshop will be screened this weekend.

The Italian Honorary Consulate to Northern Ireland will present the public premiere of the documentary "La leggenda del pianista a Maghaberry" (The Legend of the Pianist in Maghaberry).

The project started in February this year when Honorary Consul Dr Federica Ferrieri began to teach Italian to a group of prisoners.

In September she was joined by the Italian actor Stefano Panzeri and filmmakers Zoe Tweedy and Krizzah Policarpio for a one-week workshop where the inmates acted out scenes from the 1994 book Novecento by Italian author Alessandro Baricco.

It tells the story of a baby born on an ocean liner in 1900 sailing from Europe to America, who became the greatest ever jazz pianist without ever leaving the environment of the ship.

Dr Ferrieri said the project, co-funded by the Italian Cultural Institute in Edinburgh, HMP Maghaberry and the Ulster University - Restorative Practices, prompted "numberless reflections and discussions about topics relevant to the participants' own life experience – their goals and ambitions, their choices and hopes, their feelings and affections, and their connection with society".

"Thanks to the valuable support of Governor Amanda Wood, who helped make the project possible, and of Tim Chapman (UU) who supervised the project and introduced a perspective of restorative practice in it, the Italian community had the opportunity to offer to a vulnerable part of our local society its own language and literature, that the participants could use as a neutral territory to express themselves."

The documentary will be shown first at Maghaberry prison on Friday before a public screening at the Crescent Arts Centre on Sunday.

The Italian Consul General to Scotland and Northern Ireland and Director of the Italian Cultural Institute, Fabio Monaco, will be among those attending.

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