If I left my country
A film by Maria Pia Bernardoni and Patrick Willocq
What did you think when you heard that fifty migrants would become your neighbours? What were your fears before you arrived? What is home for you?
If I left my country is a series of intimate and honest conversations with villagers and asylum seekers on what it means to adjust in a land that is not your own or to share your country, your everyday life, with a stranger.
Realised in collaboration with Patrick Willocq in the framework of his artistic project "My story is a story of hope”( the human story of two communities, French and asylum seekers, who, due to events beyond their control, are obliged to live together) this short movie aims at overcoming the extremely polarised conversation about migration today.
Maria Pia Bernardoni, who lived in close contact with the project participants over five months, offered them a platform to express themselves freely. She asked them a series of questions, the same for everyone.
If I left my country is about hearing directly from the subject’s own mouths which issues are most relevant to them: what are the fears, the doubts, the hopes, the voices of these men and women, the real protagonists of migration, who have been parachuted into the other’s life and now share everyday situations.
What did it mean for Delphine, Mahamat, Matthieu and Ruslana to participate to this community art project, where everyone played their own role and was encouraged to express their own opinion, and was respected for it?
An opportunity to reflect together about this universal phenomenon, and the attempt to look at it by the perspective of the other.
What if roles were swapped? Host citizens forced to migrate and migrants becoming hosts? What if you had to leave your country?
Maria Pia Bernardoni is a photography curator with a special connection with Africa and particular interest in managing intercultural art projects that offer a different perspective of gender and migration issues, and help create positive change.
Since 2015 she is the curator of international exhibitions for the African Artists’ Foundation and LagosPhoto festival. In this capacity, she has co-curated the exhibition “Day your Lane” at Bozar Museum in Bruxelles and “Tear my Bra” at Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2016. She also curated the exhibition“AfricAfrica” at Palazzo Litta in Milan in 2018. She was part of the curatorial team for the 6th edition of LagosPhoto Festival, in Nigeria in 2017.
In parallel, Maria Pia has been developing projects around migration and hosting issues in Europe.
She has been involved in Patrick Willocq’s project “My Story is a Story of Hope”, from the outset: from preliminary set drawings to managing human relationships, providing hands-on work and acting as a sounding board during the construction of the large sets.
She is co-author of the short-movie “If I Left My Country” wich has been exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles 2018
She is also a certified lawyer.