In 2020, I was commissioned by the Cortona on the Move photography festival, which has been held annually in Cortona, Italy for ten years, to curate a project about the Covid-19 pandemic. As a photographer, journalist, teacher and photo editor with experience creating projects using still images and writing, I sought proposals from young artists under 35 who could tell an original story about this unprecedented time.
I received many submissions but found that nothing fully captured the moment. I reached out to Serena Vittorini, an Italian photographer living in Belgium, to ask if she had documented her experience of lockdown or felt compelled to explore the pandemic through imagery. She admitted that while in isolation, she had not photographed but instead recorded video diaries of her days. I was intrigued.
When Serena shared her raw, unscripted footage with me, I was struck by its emotional power. Through a calm, static style that felt authentic yet artful, she conveyed an intimate portrait of suffering that transcended her own relationship to become a reflection of the human experience. Serena’s videos follow her relationship with partner Ophélie Masson as they navigate the contradictions of confinement: demands, needs, fears. Theirs is a universal story of how we relate to one another in times of crisis and the challenges of sustaining love.
We decided these diaries deserved to be transformed into a short film. Working with experienced editor Esmeralda Calabria, we framed the footage in panoramic format like peering through a narrow slit, accentuating the claustrophobia that permeates Serena and Ophélie’s chronicles. Through their constant dialogue and the fragmentation of shots that obscure full figures and faces, the film disturbs and creates unease in the viewer. Yet in observing the protagonists’ intimacy from a removed perspective, we aimed to convey both their discomfort and the controversial intensity of love that unites even as it divides us.
To watch the short-film click here: https://www.bbc.com/reel/video/p0crbs6v/longshots-2022-two-young-women-on-an-intense-love-affair-