Italian Documentary Film: Storie di uomini e lupi – Stories of men and wolves – reviewed by Brunella Pernigotti 

Information about the documentary 

Storie di uomini e lupi – Stories of men and wolves  

 “They are back. Some people swear they have seen them moving about in the woods; someone else heard them howling in the night. The shepherds show the remains of their killed animals bearing the signs of two canines under their throat. The photographers venture on the mountains to spot them. Park rangers follow footprints in the snow and place their photo-traps. Dreadful stories come back from the past and the inhabitants of the mountain villages are wondering about their future. Loved, hated, idealized, the wolves are back in the Alps.”
   “We have started a journey that led us to the Italian Alpine valleys of Piedmont, Liguria, and Aosta Valley and, in France, to the Ubaye Valley. On our way we have learned that in the mountain villages where wolves have come back, just saying the word “wolf” is enough to open a “Pandora’s box”. It’s like a swollen river that springs from the simple, little event of the return of this animal and then floods the contemporary society with a vortex of problems related to our land, condition and occupation, up to some political and philosophical matters about the human beings and their relationship with nature.”  (Source)

  Anna Rotella – shepherdess Anna Rotella lives in Val Savaranche where she set up with her  partner Claudio a farm that produces milk and cheese from pure goat. Despite the wolf did ” peep ” several times near her goats, she thinks it’s a beautiful animal and it should not be persecuted

 The review by Brunella Pernigotti 

“Storie di uomini e lupi” is a documentary, by Andrea Deaglio and Alessandro Abba Legnazzi, which was presented last October, during the Turin Cinemambiente Film Festival: a film festival focused on the issues about the environment.

 This documentary, as they have well explained in the synopsis, looks into the problems of the return of wolves (Canis lupus italicus) on the Alps after more than a century, and reports the search for new habitats these animals do in order to settle down again. The biologists call this phenomenon: dispersione, that means dispersal. In Italy human beings and wolves never coexisted in peace: the configuration itself of the mountains doesn’t offer large and flat lands: everywhere there are only high rocky picks and narrow valleys, so men and animals have always had to contend for the remaining space to live in.

  Image: Tracks in Val Maira E ‘ along the ski slope to the bottom of Prazzo that wolves seem to prefer bring down their prey .  Often here in fact are found remains of prey animals ( very often roe ) .

The return of the wolves in the northern Alps was indirectly caused by humans themselves who, in 1990s, reintroduced in the woods a lot of deers, chamois, and wild boars to be hunted. Nowadays the few shepherds that still populate our mountains complain about the difficulties they have in their daily activity, so they regard the wolves as a new threat.
Some people interviewed in the documentary are pro wolf and say that wolves are indeed a problem, because they awaken ancient and medieval fears that must be faced;  however, these difficulties must be faced with a modern outlook. They consider wolves, for instance, an increasing tourist attraction not only for ecologists, biologists and researchers, but also for people who simply want to know something more about them.  These Scientists climb mountain slopes in order to see wolves. 

On the other hand, there are some inhabitants of our mountain villages who say that the return of the wolves is considered by some townspeople to be from an old world point of view. These people who live in the mountains have suffered the loss and damages to their livestock (that is their only source of income). These livestock producers would like a more objective policy of management in order to save both wild and domestic animals. For example, they suggest livestock producers adopt some dogs that would be able to face a wolf attack, such as the Pyrenees sheepdogs. The downside is in tourist areas because this breed of dog can be aggressive with people. So they ask: “What should we do?”
 
  Image: Fulvio Benedetto – Pastor, Fulvio Benedict has a very large goat herd.  Especially in the summer in the mountain pastures with his animals , usually on the border between Val Chisone and the Valley of Susa, has been facing the wolf. And even he managed to put it on the run. 

Without doubt, this documentary shows a well-balanced and realistic view both of the problems and the resources that wolves represent for our country. I highly recommend that the government officials watch this documentary before deciding on programmed killing of wolves in the northern Alps.  The European policy states that they are endangered and protected animals. 

  
Image: Lupo appenninico – Italian Appennine wolf 

*Watch for Brunella Pernigotti’s full interview with the filmmakers.

~~~

  Brunella Pernigotti lives in Turin, Italy. She is a teacher, a writer and a photographer. She published a novel and a book of tales and has to her credit about ten one-man exhibitions of photos. She is member of the board of a non-profit association of Turin, “Tribù del Badnightcafè”, that organizes cultural and artistic events. 

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