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“Io, Tevere – Le radici del mare,” Marco Spinelli and Roberto D’Amico explain why a legendary river can raise awareness among all of us

The Tevere is a metaphor for our Planet. The Tevere is a metaphor for ourselves. In the 405 kilometers of the river that epitomized Roman Civilization is summed up the essence of the most tragic contemporary issue – the relationship between human beings and nature. “Io, Tevere – Le radici del mare” is Marco Spinelli and Roberto D’Amico’s aquatic pilgrimage, a short docu that travels the entire length of this legendary river, exploring its splendors and miseries. An immersion in the Italian territory that reveals how much man has affected and is continuing to affect these waters. Riding for several stretches on their SUPs, Marco and Roberto build a dialogue on two levels, around which the entire film revolves – a mental level, shaped by reflections, testimonies and a conscious ecological sensibility; and a physical level, shaped by the visual clash between sublime pristine sceneries and spots destroyed by human degeneration. This duo of creatives, activists and water sportsmen also decided to have a dialogue with us, in order to introduce the movie in competition at the ONA Shortfilm Festival and tell us the reasons behind this virtuous production.

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How did the project “Io, Tevere” come about? What do you want to tell with this documentary?

Marco Spinelli: “Roberto and I met two years ago, I found out about his commitment to the seas and oceans, and he learned about my similar activities. We immediately connected. Roberto told me about how difficult it is to surf in Ladispoli (near Rome), because of the waste brought by the Tevere. At first we thought about set up a clean up event, but soon after this different kind of trip took shape in our minds. I have a brother who is a marine biologist and he often tells me that interesting topics related to water protection decay because they are explained in an overly complex way. That’s why we decided to raise awareness while having fun, using simple and genuine words. Being spontaneous doesn’t mean belittling the problems of our Planet, it means that we can try to communicate to a wider audience, who may be able to understand the voice of the environment.”

Roberto D’Amico: “The Tevere is something we all think we know, yet no one really knows this river. We have tried to describe it. I always associated it with pollution, instead along the way I had to change my mind, I found beautiful places and breathtaking natural scenery. At the same time I threw up in downtown Rome while smelling the stench of the water, trying to pick up a bicycle wreck from the depths. I experienced swinging sensations, enriched by the people we met on the trip: figures who live and protect the Tevere on a daily basis. This river represents everything: Venice, the Po’, the Adriatic sea, the oceans…. We wanted to narrate its conditions in a natural way, trying to incisively reach new generations and get them to think. We decided to simply be ourselves.”

A big part of your journey took place via SUP. What role does the sport element play in understanding, protecting and promoting the waters?

M: “I come from the scuba diving world. Over time these passion have allowed me to show others what I see underwater…. So the sport has been a fundamental basis for being able to tell this kind of stories. If we do not live and experience firsthand something like the pollution of our seas and rivers, only words remain. And words, unfortunately, are not enough. Roberto and I are united by the desire to get our hands dirty and struggle to share relevant issues. We are two ordinary guys who want to learn from our experiences, hoping that they will also raise questions in those who follow and believe in our environmental vision.”

R: “Sport has been the medium that has given credibility to my environmental commitment. Surfing allows me to live inside the aquatic universe on a daily basis, so people find my point of view reliable. When you are symbiotic with the sea, you know what you are talking about. And it is impossible to think that everything is fine nowadays: seas, rivers and oceans are objectively in dramatic conditions. The sports background also gives you concreteness, pushes you to face challenges and share them with other people. I love the ideals that surround surfers – we are human beings who should always help the sea. And I’d like my commitment to convey this image. In addition, sport allows you to have different perspectives on your surroundings: during the trip I often thought that many abandoned or degraded areas could come back to life thanks to sports activities and projects. After all, if you really live a place, it’s quite logical that you want to protect it…”

What are the poster images and moments of “Io, Tevere”?

M: “They are contrasting images and moments. In a positive sense I would mention the Gole del Forello in Umbria, where we seemed to be lost in some pristine American wilderness. In a negative sense the center of Rome and the catastrophic scenery of the city’s river. I was particularly struck by this absurd contrast between the wonder of the capital and its watery dump.”

R: “At the beginning of the trip I filled my water bottle with water from the Tevere and drank it. It was perfect. In Rome, however, I was sick, the smell of the river was revolting, and there were mountains of garbage scattered everywhere. Pollution does not arise on its own, it’s a consequence, and these two antithetical images explain how humans are the cause of this degeneration.”

“We don’t realize how much we are actually part of this Planet.” Can we say that this is the key phrase and the main message you are sharing and will share at ONA?

M: “We often hear that human beings are guests of the sea and the Earth. But this is not true, it is a misconception, because it only fuels our detachment from Nature. So people struggle to understand that everything is connected and that every human action inevitably reflects on the environment. The health of the sea, for example, begins in the city. It is crucial to create a collective consciousness: we need to be aware of the importance of our behavior and we need to modulate our actions with the idea that they will impact the Planet, animals and ourselves. Projects like “Io, Tevere” want to communicate these concepts and recompose the rift between humanity and the environment – a process that must begin from the younger generations.”

R: “It doesn’t matter what kind of water we are talking about. It can be sweet or salty, hot or cold. The only fact is that the world is just one and currently its waters are suffering. In the memory of some older people, the Tevere was the equivalent of Miami Beach, a lived-in, populated and protected river. Now everything is different, and when you forget something, you don’t know what can happen to it…. This is why we decided to create a documentary made by young people for young people, this is why we are presenting the film in schools or at special events such as ONA. “Io, Tevere” is also a cue, Marco and I are thinking about some synergistic projects, but first we want to focus our energies on spreading this documentary and its messages.”

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