Felice nel box
Writer/Director Ghila Valabrega
The short film, “Felice nel box” (Happy in the Box) aims to raise the profile of the Italian Jewish community, which has seen very little exposure and recognition up until now, especially in cinema. This film wishes to highlight the Jewish cultural treasures of Lombardia, specifically of Sabbioneta, which is a “utopian town” wanted from Vespasiano Gonzaga during the Renaissance, and recognised by UNESCO.
In “Felice nel box” the everyday life of a modern Jewish family is changed forever as they accidentally come in di-rect contact with their past. The bizarre exchange can only happen thanks to the spirit of Felice Leon Foa’, a man who belongs to the 18th century, but finds himself trapped in today’s world.
The film is based on my family’s true story
1970s. Stefano is a 30 year old Jewish photographer from Milan who finds himself near Sabbioneta carrying out an assignment. As he explores the town and its surroundings on his much loved and trusted motorbike he chances upon a derelect Jewish cemetery. Touched by the terrible state of the place, he instinctively reacts and decides to take one of the tombstones with him to Milan. He is trying to save at least one piece of the cemetery, as a testimony of the once flourishing Jewish community of Sabbioneta, which appears to be sinking in the sands of time. As Stefano loads the tombstone on his bike, the ghost of the dead man appears. It’s Felice Leon Foa’, who died aged 60. He has long grey sideburns, a Jewish tall hat and a walking stick. Stefano cannot see him. Felice following his tombstone hops on the bike and is taken to Milan.
Stefano tries in vain to offer the tombstone to various Jewish organizations in Milan, to comemorate the cemetery. He ends up storing it in his garage. Years go by and he forgets about it (and with it Mr. Foa’). 30 years later, Stefano and his family move. While packing and clearing the garage the photographer finds the tombstone once more and brings it to his new home. Alice, his wife (my mom) can actually see Felice and starts talking with him, developing a crush… Thanks to the bond that grows between them, Alice persuades Stefano to hop back on his bike to return the tombstone, but first they have to find the cemetery.
Funding would not only contribute to the production of the short, but would also go towards the restoration of the Syna- gogue (damaged by the earthquake last May) and of the Jewish cemetery of Sabbioneta, which has been started, but was halted due to lack of adequate funding.
As to now we have few groups supporting us : Pro Loco di Sabbioneta and Comunita’ Ebraica di Mantova (Jewish Community of Mantova). If you like the story and support the cause, you can help us with a donation. Contact with us to discuss your potential involvement (from either an economic, creative or organizational point of view).