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Canada 150


      Anita Aloisio rediscovers Basilicata

      Jun. 26, 2013

      In May, Montreal filmmaker Anita Aloisio set off to the region of Basilicata in southern Italy to discover the culinary secrets of her father’s birthplace. She was not alone. When she arrived, Aloisio met up with a small local crew she had assembled over phone calls and emails. Together they would travel to 18 different towns in just nine days.

      “I called the project Basilicata Secrets because the region is still very unknown. Basilicata was so impoverished after World War Two and it still has that reputation today,” explains Aloisio.

      “These recipes are passed on from mom to mom, using ingredients grown on their land. They are simple. They use organic ingredients.”

      But the region, Aloisio would soon re-discover, is much more that that.

      Aloisio’s crew filmed professional chefs, local women who had reinvented local traditional recipes, and others who showed pride in what their region produced. The film goes beyond simple recipes, but looks at the people in the region and the relationships fostered through food and agriculture.

      Basilicata Secrets will consist of a recipe book with an accompanying film on DVD slated for release in 2014. The film will feature 18 recipes, while the book will cover many more recipes and towns that the crew couldn’t reach for logistical reasons.

      “The book is really a culinary journey. It’s not just a simple recipe book,” Aloisio explains.

      A second documentary film will focus on the region as a whole.

      “We soon realized that we had enough material for a second film, a road documentary about life in Basilicata,” Aloisio muses.

      Financed in part by the Basilicata Region, Aloisio is the midst of securing additional funding to complete the project.

      “It’s a big endeavor, but the big step is done. The shooting is completed,” Aloisio comments.

      “I had been to Basilicata before, but I hadn’t appreciated the territory before. The beauty of the different landscapes. I had never before met people who had studied elsewhere but had actually returned to their home region to keep their culture alive,” explains Aloisio.

      “The hospitality of strangers being open to this project. It was wonderful. I was taken aback by the generosity of the families and my collaborators.”

      “And it should be said. The non-reaction from relatives who should have shown more interest in what I was doing was quite a contrast,” she continues.

      Aloisio is also quite vocal about her experience as a child of Italian immigrants living in Quebec. Her last film, Les enfants de la loi 101, examined how Quebec’s language law affected children of immigrant families.

      Aloisio admits that her trip helped her further reflect on her own place in society as an Italian-Canadian and an Italian-Quebecer, what she calls a “reappropriation of what can be made mine.”

      “I have to still explain my experience, my situation when I travel abroad. We are a direct product of the legislation created in Quebec, and yet we’re ignored. Allophone, anglophone, francophone. I hate these terms. They are obsolete. We have to get rid of these terms if we want to move on as a society.”

      To learn more about Basilicata Secrets, please visit

      Anita Aloisio’s documentary film, Les enfants de la loi 101, will screen tonight (June 26, 2013) as part of the Rendez-vous du cinema italien de Montréal in Dante Park in Montreal’s Little Italy. Admission is free. Bring your lawn chair!

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