700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death
I am absolutely delighted to provide a brief introduction for Ilaria De Carlo’s The Divine Way. De Carlo’s film work acquires particular significance in this current Dante Year, at the time when the world is celebrating 700 years from the death of Italy’s Sommo Poeta and we are honouring the universal appeal and influence of Dante’s masterpiece, the Divine Comedy.
Ilaria De Carlo’s The Divine Way consists of a stunning visual translation of the themes of descent into Hell and ascent into Heaven which mark the architecture of Dante’s Divina Commedia. De Carlo’s The Divine Way fashions an utterly contemporary journey of human redemption. De Carlo’s echoing steps up to Heaven and down to Hell lend a vertiginous and hypnotic quality to Dante’s imagery, captured between sin and salvation.
Katia Pizzi, Director, Italian Cultural Institute London
The Divine Way
Ilaria Di Carlo, Germany, 2018, 15′
“The path to paradise begins in hell”. — Dante Alighieri
Loosely based on Dante’s Divine Comedy, The Divine Way takes us on the protagonist’s epic descent through an endless labyrinth of staircases. As the woman journeys deeper, the staircases mutate, and she is trapped and pulled into their dangerous landscape, guiding us through more than fifty magnificent locations.
Conversation with Ilaria Di Carlo about The Divine Way
Could you tell us about the idea behind The Divine Way?
The Divine Way is an experimental film based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. The film follows the epic descent of a woman through an endless labyrinth of staircases. As this woman journeys deeper, the staircases mutate, and she is trapped and pulled into their dangerous landscape.
The film’s main idea and the artistic challenge was to create a journey through an architectural collage of staircases that would feel like a fictional story and transport the viewer physically and emotionally through more than fifty very particular locations.
What can you tell us about the use of stairways and their meaning?
I was inspired by the illustrations of Dante’s circles of hell, which often are represented by a circular stairway going down to hell and then up to the sky in paradise. The film uses the architectural metaphor of the stairway concerning the themes of identity and journey.
Stairwells always suggest a journey and hold significant meaning deeply rooted in mythology. In psychoanalysis and dreams, staircases also represent our personalities’ subconscious and twisting landscapes that can turn us in so many different and opposing directions.
What else can you add to your work’s relationship with Dante’s Divine Comedy?
The Divine Comedy is an excellent metaphor for the journey of life and still appeals to modernity, struggling with the questions “who am I?” and “what’s the meaning of my life?”. The poetic journey that Dante takes himself on is a portrayal of man’s quest for truth and the meaning of life. Dante struggled with the same questions before coming to a moment of vision that wholly transformed him as a person.
As in life, in this film, every new step is exciting, full of curiosity and fear. We are all wandering and seeking for ourselves. No one knows what the right way is, and we often find ourselves lost in the middle of our life path.
The film depicts the mystical course of life’s journey, which sometimes pushes us into total darkness to see where the light truly comes from.
Dante@700: A Journey Without End
Dante@700: A Journey Without End. Actress Greta Scacchi reading from the Canto V of the Inferno, then scholar, author and translator Ian Thomson (East Anglia University) talking about Dante, his work and his importance in the Anglophone world.
About the Director
Ilaria Di Carlo
Ilaria Di Carlo is an Italian filmmaker and a visual artist living and working in Berlin since 2009. She graduated with honours in Scenography from the Fine Arts Academy in Rome and holds a Master’s Degree from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London. She subsequently studied filmmaking at the SAE Institute of Berlin.
Her visually driven experimental films explore the role of myth and classical literature as reflections on contemporary life, while focusing on the themes of journey and identity in relation to spaces, landscapes, and architecture. Site-specific quality of her work as a film director is complemented with her skills in set design and work in the art department for major film productions.
She has worked extensively as director, actress and scenographer for theatre and performance before she started directing her own films. Her filmography includes short films The Black Book of L, The Divine Way, which received 37 awards including the Barbara Aronofsky Latham Award for an Emerging Experimental Video Artist at the Ann Arbor Film Festival and Sirens, currently in post-production. Her films were screened in more than 50 countries, in over 170 international film festivals such as Cork Film Festival, Clermont-Ferrand, Odense Film Festival, Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage and Filmfest Dresden amongst others.