In Siculiana, a small Sicilian town full of flaking facades, religiosity is lived out as a matter of course. The figure of Jesus worshipped here is black, and always has been. However, some people cannot get used to their dark-skinned neighbours in the refugee camp. The camera accompanies locals and stranded people along their paths, which often lead to the church, but not necessarily together, and draws a kind of map of the city in black-on-black contrasts. It’s become quiet in Siculiana, a local says. He’s not referring to the loud demonstrations against the Villa Sikania, now converted into a refugee reception camp. And certainly not to the colourful flurry of activity that grips the city every year as the faithful prepare for the feast of the Finding of the Cross. That’s when they hang up the “Benvenuti” sign. But who exactly is welcome here?
The pomp and circumstance of the festivities are at the centre of this filmic portrait of a community in which the alleged common ground is disintegrating into voice and skin tones: between the black people from abroad and the black man on the cross who – according to an elderly lady – was forced to “darken” himself in order to incorporate human sins. Between an aging city stylised to the point of becoming a scenery and God’s newly arrived children who promise a future and who could bring new life into the alleys.
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