Filmmakers Marco Scotuzzi and Andrea Brusa traveled to many farms just outside Milan until they found just the right goat — who turned out to be named Alice.
In the short film “Magic Alps,” a finalist in TheWrap’s ShortList Film Festival, Alice plays Salimah, a goat traveling with an Afghan goatherd named Said (Hassan El Aouni) who is seeking asylum in Italy and wants refugee status for the animal as well.
“The Magic Alps in Italy reminds the Afghan shepherd and the goat of home,” Scotuzzi told TheWrap. “Going to the Alps for them means that they could find…a new home.”
“Magic Alps” is based on a true story, one the filmmakers found several years ago at the Milan Central railway station — where they first heard the story from several of the refugees who had gathered their on their way to northern Europe.
Brusa said the idea of a shepherd who insisted on traveling with his goat served as the perfect metaphor for the refugee crisis, and they had to tell it on film.
The filmmakers even cast real refugees at the station as extras, seen crowding the hallways of the immigration center before Said and Salimah are introduced. Italian comedian Giovanni Storti plays the Italian immigration officer who must sort out the case of the shepherd and his goat.
Prior to “Magic Alps,” Scotuzzi and Brusa worked together on other films dealing with the European refugee crisis. The filmmakers are interested in the “paradoxical” nature of true stories about the issue — a shrouded system that has the ability to completely alter an individual’s entire existence.
“The same way we say yes or no to the goat reflects on who we are as humans, so the questions it raises here are, ‘Who has the right to decide destiny? Who has the right to decide who can escape tragedy and who cannot? Who has the right to say who can seek freedom and who cannot?'” Brusa said.
“So this becomes like a Kafkaesque situation,” he added, “the man against the huge, blind, inhuman machine that is the bureaucracy system.”
Watch the film above. Viewers can also watch all of the ShortList finalists at any time during the festival at shortlistfilmfestival.com and vote from Aug. 8-22. The ShortList Film Festival is supported by Topic and AMC Theatres.