For a son

feature film | 2016

ita | sin


Sunita, a middle-aged srilankan woman, lives with her teenage son on the outskirts of a northern Italian city where she works as a caregiver.
The relationship between mother and son is fraught with tension and silence. Having grown up in Italy, the boy is a cultural hybrid his mother struggles to understand, as she fights to live in a country to which she does not want to belong.

How the film was born

Many Sri Lankan women leave their families and children to go abroad. The First Sri Lankan immigrants to come to Europe came in the 70's and to Italy in the beginning of the 90's. Since then many years have passed. words such as care taker, immigration, integration and racism were integrated with them from these times. Those who leaves their country of origin face a social and cultural uprooting but also finds them in front of the possibility of rooting themselves in another.
The presence of Sri Lankan men and women who have a different culture and way of life from the Italians, gives birth to sri lankan Buddhist temples, a place to practice religion and culture. Not to forget the origins and to see them in this new context of life. Meanwhile children are born or reunited with their mothers in Italy, as happens to Sunita, the main character of this film. The children are growing up in a country which they feel is theirs while parents live in a place where they don't feel home. Sunita doesn't want to settle down in italy. She's different than other mothers, only speaks little italian, maybe she doesn't want to learn. It's not the ignorance. may be a sign of her fear to belong to the west without values, which will alienate her from her origins, moral values and education, all that she has to protect her son.
But within her own house and in the streets of Italy her values bring her suffering and inevitably a distortion, creating interpretations and visions.

Director's notes

I wanted a minimalist film, simple and close as possible to the reality. It was December of 2014.
I was in negombo Sri Lanka. Aravinda and I talked about this film day and night. How to do it, with whom and how to find the money. Only thing that we were sure of was the deep urgent need to tell a story, to tell 'here we are', 'our story is also your story, a story we all can relate to'. A very minimalistic film was born. made with moments of everyday and household life, at times repetitive. A story of any other province in northern italy. I didn't want to write any precise dialogs. Everything was improvised during the shooting, adopted by actors to suit what they were feeling at that time. The words in the end were chosen by them.
We worked with a high level of anarchy. We were forced to do so. Kirthi, the electrician, was climbing trees and putting up lights, something which is considered illegal in Italy. Shirantha, one of the actors drove us around in the van with his broken leg. It was necessary. Because we had only what we had and we had no other option but to be satisfied with what we had. The dream of a simple cinema was slowly realising. Meanwhile we were riding the happy wave of telling our story. Since its drafting, this project have attracted many people who were willing to offer a ride, a plate of rice or a place to stay. We united our forces, in front of thousand problems, Sri Lankans and Italians, because this was the story of every one of us.


This film is a great work of composition. Not just because everyone did their part. A good portion of the time was dedicated to put together and organise what was offered to us by many people. To unite them in way to make the best out of it for everyone.
A good example was food, we didn't have a person in charge of the kitchen, professional chefs or even a catering service. There were many women and some men who agreed to cook for us day after day. It was all going from place to place or waiting for someone somewhere. We would go to one house to pick up the rice another to pick up some vegetables, and another to pick up the chicken curry, ect. If needed we would cook together. we shared our food, we ate with our hands and everyone would wash dishes.
'Obstacles institutionalize the cowardice' says a maestro of independent cinema. In the creative process and in realisation of this film we found ourselves in various complications, we faced many obstacles. Big and small, both institutional and relational.
The reason behind choosing a crew consist of a srilankan DOP and technicians was solely dictated by the need to value the skills and different forms of doing art, other styles and origins of the italian context. Most of the time in Europe there is a lack of recognition for these competencies. It is important for the second generation in Italy turn back and appreciate the style and wisdom of their countries of origin. Learn to recognize the visions and values of those cultures to not suffer, in the West, a standardizing integration process.