THE MAN WITHOUT GUILT
(Slovenia, Italy, Croatia)
Producer: Miha Černec and Jožko Rutar (Staragara, SI)
Co-Producers: Igor Prinčič (Transmedia, IT), Boris T. Matić (Croatian Propeler Film)
Screenwriter: Ivan Gergolet
Production Designer: Marco Juratovec
Director of photography: Debora Vrizzi
Editor: Natalie Cristiani
Costume Designer: Gilda Venturini
Mask Designer: Alenka Nahtigal
World Premiere: Tallinn Black Nights First Features Competition, 2022
Distributor: Slingshot Films
Cast: Valentina Canelutti, Branko Završan, Enrico Inserra, Livia Rossi, Rossana Mortara, Alessandro Bandini
Angela, an asbestos widow, meets the man responsible for her husband’s death. Deciding to become his caregiver to punish him, she falls into the emotional labyrinth that separates lies from truth. When the executioner becomes a victim of himself, revenge can turn into forgiveness and a new beginning can be possible.
Angela is a 50 year-old widow. Her husband died due to lung cancer caused by the asbestos dust he breathed in when he was a worker. Angela works as a cleaner in the hospital, where she finds out that Francesco, the former employer of her husband, was hospitalized because of a brain stroke.
There she meets Francesco’s son, who is impressed by Angela’s pleasant manners and, unaware of the link between the two, offers her to work as his father’s caregiver once he’s discharged.
As Francesco avoided a conviction, Angela accepts the offer to punish him, but she realizes very soon that she’s unable to hurt him. Swallowed by anger and obsession, she decides to separate father and son to condemn Francesco to loneliness, putting at risk everything she has left: the relationship with her daughter, with her best friend and her integrity as a woman.
All her actions turn in a boomerang against her, but when everything seems lost, Angela discovers that in the deep darkness where she fell there is an unexpected truth. When the executioner becomes a victim of himself, revenge can turn in forgiveness and a new beginning can be possible.
I was born and brought up in the Slovenian community in Italy, on the Italian-Slovenian border region, where asbestos is causing a huge damage to people. In some cities, almost all households have at least one family member who has been exposed to asbestos dust and risks to get sick even after 15 of 20 years after the exposure. Even my own father, who worked at a major shipyard as a young man, has breathed in the dust and is at risk, like that whole generation of workers.
There are a lot of documentaries and TV reports that denounce this situation, but I want to approach this theme from another point of view, focusing on the survivors and their inner feelings. In an environment where human justice is not able to sentence or the establish the truth about the ones that didn’t protect thepeople that worked for them, what does it happen if a victim and a executioner meet face to face? What feelings will drive their actions? What is the gap between the guilt and the sense of guilt? Can a victim become a judge? Is it possible to transform revenge into forgiveness? These are some of the questions that this film wants to answer.
Even if scientific research started warning about asbestus from the beginning of the 1900, the systematic use of this material has created a broad grey area where the responsibilities of lobbies and individuals have become blurred and it seems almost impossible to prove their guilt in courts, where people involved hide behind the answer: “We didn’t know it was so dangerous.“
This story moves this social conflict into a family, personal and intimate one, where in a community that was poisoned by inside, the lack of justice drives the protagonistinto a journey from revenge to forgiveness, exploring the conflict between guilt and impunity.
Ivan Gergolet started shooting short documentaries and short fiction films during the studies in cinema at the University of Bologna. He was one of the media-activists that in 2002 created OrfeoTV, the first street television in Italy.
Gergolet started working professionally in 2006, also as runner, assistant director and unit manager on several productions.
Since 2007 he has been a member of the Ljubljana actor’s studio, where he trained to develop his directing actors skills with the Strasberg method.
Since 2008 he is a filmmaking teacher in high schools and in the Trieste jail, developing and shooting short films, documentaries, music and social videos to promote filmmaking as a social awareness and a personal growth tool.
Since 2015 he is a member of the European Film Academy.
His first feature documentary Dancing with Maria was the first documentary ever selected in the International Film Critics Week program, at the 71st Venice International Film Festival in 2014, where it was awarded with the Civitas Vitae Price and then nominated for Best European Documentary at the European Film Awards 2015. It was distributed theatrically in Italy, Argentina, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Mexico, Russia, Poland and many other countries. It was screened in more than 50 international festivals and it won many international awards.