Waves, films and environmental sensitivity. We meet this Italian filmmaker along with North Sails

The sound of the ocean has infinite notes. Sweet and quiet, contemplative and introspective notes. Notes that soothe metropolitan frenzy, alleviate it, and echo from the vast expanses of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea to channel into unexpected places, as the Naviglio, embedded in Milan’s urban fabric, as the shady aquatic belly of the Darsena, and the creative currents of the filmmaker and director Giovanni Barberis. Following the award-winning productions ‘Peninsula’ ‘Nausica’ and ‘Onde Nostre’, docufilms dedicated to the Italian surfing scene that he produced with a collective of inspired Italian aquatic creatives, ‘Ogni giorno ci penso’ is Barberi’s latest venture. ‘Ogni giorno ci penso’ (‘Every day I think about it’) is also the unintentional definition of the undisguised relationship between Sbrokked, his nickname, and water. “I have an extremely intimate connection with seas and oceans. When I think about it, the first image I see is my sister and I playing on the beaches of Bergeggi, Liguria, and being scolded by our mother. Before arriving in Milan, I lived with my family in Piemonte, and for years my only thought was to reach the nearest lineup and get on the surfboard. I went south on the Ligurian coast almost daily. Several times, it happened to me to travel alone or simply with my dog. Until I was 30 years old, I had the priceless opportunity to travel. The priority was always to get in the waves: from Hawaii to Morocco, from northern Spain to the small town of Varazze… I always had the feeling of being deeply comfortable in the sea. Water makes everything appear intimate. It shapes your way of being and pushes you to tell.”

Giovanni Barberis’ story runs through the flow of his films, as it does for his own skin. A broken board, the sign of a serious injury of the past, the outline of a sole, the tail of a whale… Walking through Milan’s waterways, the legs of this artist give a glimpse of self-made tattoos. They are impressions, statements of a primordial synergy with the ocean, which is fruitful for his life, his profession, and his sensitivity. As he observes the plastic wrecks deposited in the disfigured aquatic veins of Milan, Giovanni lets flow out a flood of complaints and information, silent personal initiatives, and noisy visual splinters: elements kept together by the common thread of marine conservation. “During one of my projects I was lucky enough to interview an oceanographer. He educated me about the dynamics of marine pollution and regeneration; it was shocking. By touching upon topics such as collective consumerism or individual inattention, I realized how much human beings are to blame on this maelstrom of environmental destruction. I always acted with the greatest respect for marine nature. I think it’s a kind of care which belongs to every lover of this element. It happened to me millions of times to take long walks on the beaches I was welcomed to in my business or leisure trips and pick up infinite bags full of plastic thrown away by strangers. In the Maldives I had the opportunity to observe a trash island; it was shocking. I never bound myself to specific associations, but I think artistic medium is crucial to nurture a diverse sensibility on this issue, especially for younger generations. In many of my productions, the ocean has been and continues to be a central subject, and I think that filming the course of a wave or a storm can convey a sense of magic and purity that needs to be preserved. I hope that these images will raise awareness and will force the viewer to reflect on concepts such as the respect and love for an element that is essential, but constantly and seriously endangered. I also gave space to many testimonials from people who live symbiotically with oceanic wonder, and who decided to inhabit it for their entire existence. Their words are another very powerful tool for changing the common thinking”.

Revolution can come across painful awareness and even more painful detachment. Because being true to your values, as Giovanni Barberis explains us as he walks on the grey concrete of Milan, is the most meaningful thing a man in perpetual listening to the sea can do. This is the reason for a working interlude that, for some time, will see him crossing the waves almost only for personal films and abandoning larger productions, that often aims at an exploitation of surfing art and its imagery. “Surfing is my passion and, over time, it became my job. Although it’s a necessity, I decided to take a break from this universe, because I hated the idea of exploiting something I always perceived as spiritual. I was emotionally saturated. I’ll resume it in the future. In the meantime, I’m going on living this dualism between the sea and the metropolis: it is a balance I can bear, because as soon as I can I escape to some beach. I’m also thinking about moving to the seaside. This thought stays with me and it always will. Sooner or later, it’ll come true”.

Credits: @gio_sbrokked
@North Sails
Photo Credits: Rise Up Duo
Text by Gianmarco Pacione