A Quarantine Diary

Chiara Baldussi Operations Officer


April 24, 2020

text and Photos by Vito Zagarrio, Arcadia Rome Center Professor of “Framing Italy: Film Studies & Filmmaking in Rome” and Professor at Università degli studi Roma Tre.

I start from my job: that is, from my habit of looking at the world through images.

For me, the image of the quarantine is a sunset in the middle of the television antennas that populate the terraces of my neighborhood. With San Pietro in the background. The antennas are ugly, but also beautiful in their own “modernist” way, because they stylize the spaces of the urban landscape. And San Pietro, as in the ending of Rossellini's famous Rome Open City (which my students have seen) is always a symbol of hope:  "we will do it", “Ce la faremo”.

Every evening, during these cloistered months, I went out on the terrace to watch the sunset. And I was struck by the fact that every day, every hour, there was a boy walking quickly on his terrace. Back and forth, back and forth, at any time of day. Who is he? A marathon runner? A fool? A thinker on his way? There are many true stories on the terraces that can be told: two female athletes playing tennis from one terrace to another, a love story which develops between young people living in opposite buildings (the boy sends a love message with a drone). The police bursts onto a terrace to block a dangerous family barbecue...

Let's take the benefits of this quarantine. Suddenly time has expanded: time to read, to think, to study. Time saved of dangerous travels by car, scooter, breathing smog. Time to be with our parents, or our children. Time to reflect on the fragility of the human beings, and on the harm they have done to "their" planet.

The experience from an educational point of view is also interesting. Experiencing classes via zoom changes the relationship with students. On the one hand, the relationship with the bodies, the direct interaction (as a friend of mine, a theater actor, who lacks the warmth of the spectators' body) is missing. But on the other hand, there is a new type of contact, even deeper. In the zoom meeting, the students have a face and a name, they can share the screen with you, they can immediately interact - in chat - with a question or with an emoticon. Of course, this thing works with seven, ten people. It is difficult to have the same result with one hundred students, as happens at Roma Tre University. But it is still an opportunity to get back into the game, to reflect on teaching, to invent new formulas and new schemes. We take advantage of the dramatic opportunity to become better: better students, better teachers, better filmmakers, better human beings.