At the First Breath of Wind

Director: Franco Piavoli
Screenwriters: Franco Piavoli

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Franco Piavoli crafts a breathtaking poem from, and to, cinema in this luminous feature. An idyllic evocation of place, the film actually derives its extraordinary power from a mastery of the medium: its transcendence of time, its unique juxtaposition of representation and abstraction, and its flirtations with human perceptive processes.

The "story" generally follows the progression of a sun-drenched afternoon in rural Italy, as a landed family and a group of field laborers alternately pass the day in leisure, reflection, and work. However, the film's most powerful journey is one that takes the viewer inward—plunging headlong into minute incidents that swell with suggestion and reveal an extraordinarily rich, sustained observation of mood, atmosphere, and existential absorption. A young girl observes a boy swimming in a stream. A man slips into a deep, fitful slumber in his library. A woman traverses a cluttered landscape on a search for something untold. Such prosaic scenes fairly shimmer from the screen, as delicate manipulations of sound design, framing, and photographic processes create a seductive undertow, constantly shifting and layering points of view. Haunting and deeply affecting, Piavoli's film inspires a renewed wonder toward the often-untapped power of its medium.

— Shannon Kelley

Screening Details

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