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The “Magic Eye” of a Camera Captures Rural Life Under Quarantine


The “Magic Eye” of a Camera Captures Rural Life Under Quarantine

Alice Rohrwacher’s most recent full-length feature, Happy as Lazaro, won the award for best screenplay at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Her latest short film, Four Roads, is a gorgeously composed meditation on community in the time of COVID. Shot in the rural Italian countryside in April 2020, during the early days of quarantine, the short follows Rohrwacher as she discovers an old camera and some expired film. She decides to see if she can connect with her neighbors through the “magic eye” of the camera, which allows her to interact with them while keeping a safe distance.

The director observes her neighbors — an elderly woman and her dog, a man tending to a secret garden, a large family on a farm — and the picturesque landscape they all share with a dreamlike sense of reverie, narrating the small everyday moments she captures. What makes Four Roads an incredibly special short is the true admiration Rohrwacher shows for these people. She expresses how inspired she is by her neighbors’ resilience and love of life. The comfort she finds amongst them is palpable, as she allows herself to explore and connect through art in the midst of a crisis. 

Four Roads will be available to stream on MUBI starting May 14.

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Madeleine Seidel is a freelance arts writer and curator based in Brooklyn, with bylines at The Brooklyn Rail, Little…

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