Crossing the Line (2007) - full transcript

A journey through Italian landscapes as seen through the windows of several long-distance express trains. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
I crossed the line three times:

the first illegally,
with the help of a smuggler.

And somehow, legally at least once.

Surely I'm one of the very few,

who returned willingly
to the starting point.

Le Passage de la Ligne
Georges Simenon

The Bolzano train arrives in Rome
at six in the morning.

And the last train leaves Rome at 10:40.

In the morning I'm in Bolzano.

I had a season ticket.

Bolzano-Rome: 315 euros.

I could come and go everyday.

With 315 euros
I could come and go everyday.


I think it's an injustice.

I started work at 11:
I did five years onboard a fishing boat.

I've been a waiter,
a bricklayer, a poulterer...

I can't remember all the jobs I've done.
I've done them all.

There are 50 words in the vocabulary?

I've done all fifty of them...

What's your job?
Where are you from?

I'm resident in one place,
but I sleep in another

and work somewhere else:
I don't make any sense...

Lots of people work illegally,
they don't officially earn a thing,

or get pensions, or severance pay.

Speaking professionally,
they slot you in, pay your contributions...

Suddenly we all have to go up North
to earn money.

We don't go there hoping to find jobs
that pay 3,000 a month.

If only!
It'd be great!

We're entrepreneurs of ourselves...

Loquats, cherries
the Tremiti Islands have everything...

the beautiful sea, hotels, restaurants...

I was the leader of my movement.

I was arrested and put on trial.

I was tried by the Chief of Police
in Bolzano, Trento.

I've had more trials
than all the rest of them.

Offences to the Head of State,
to the Chief of Police.

I've offended everyone.

I had to hire Italy's top lawyers.

To save myself.

The lawyers in Bolzano weren't capable.

Saying what you think
is always dangerous.


everything gets falsified.

From the moment that you express ideas,

everyone interprets them as they want.

So everything gets falsified.

I forget everything.

I ignore everything...

for a quieter life.

But everything's written down

in my newspapers.

I don't have them.

Anyway, they're called Nuova Europa

and Neues Europa.

The Italian one is Nuova Europa,
the German one is Neues Europa.

Mineral water, coke!

I treat them as they treat me.

You treat others
as they treat you.

They look at you, get out
and shove the sign in your face.

They don't even ask for papers.
"You're from Naples," right away.

"Yes, I'm from Naples.
Is that my fault?

"Any previous convictions?
Murder, drug dealing?

"None, I've never hurt a soul!

"No, I have to check.
Give me your papers.

"You're from Scampia
and you don't have a criminal record?


"Hope you've got someone,
because I want to put you in prison."

You don't turn bad, you're born bad.

I was born good.
I grew up on council estates in Scampia

I could've been turned bad,
but I've always been good.

I could've...
But what would I have done?

Would I've been sure
of going home at night?

But if you go to Vico,
which is about 10 kilometres away,

they speak differently:
they drag words out more.

In Bari they talk a bit weirder:
"What did you do this evening?"

The Foggia accent is more closed.

"What have you done?

Are you coming or not?

"I went...
I did it..."

It's like they're chewing garlic.

"I went, I said, I spoke..."

They were cooperatives,
they dismissed you when they wanted.

I've never had a long-term contract.

Always short-term.

We're like James Bond.
We're on a mission when we go up North.

Superman, we're the same.

We're on a mission:

one month, ten days, five days.

Twenty days, six hours.

It doesn't even need saying.

I'm 26, I got out four years ago.
There's only my mom at home.

I was talking about my ear operation
in Forte dei Marmi: I couldn't hear.

It was raining,
it was 4:30 in the morning and I thought:

"What the hell can I do
with no TV and no cigarettes?"

I went out in my slippers
and walked 1.5 kilometres

with my ear bandaged.

It was pouring down.

I walked 1.5 kilometres in Forte dei Marmi,
a place I didn't know.

I left the hospital to buy cigarettes.

Despite the anaesthesia,
I needed a cigarette.

I was born in 1943.

In the 1940s,
to get to primary school,

I had to walk seven kilometres.

There was one school
to every four villages.

I had to cross the railways tracks
and the countryside.

Before going to school,

we farm kids had to let the animals
out of the stables.

And then the shoes...

Jackboots, soldiers' boots.
That's all we could have.

I had to get up early every morning

otherwise my brother would take my shoes
because they were better.

When I got out of prison in Velletri,

I got to Rome
and they gave me a deportation order.

He said: "Rezcui Zouhair?"
"Yes, that's me."

"You have a deportation order."

"What do you mean?

"My residence permit
has only just expired.

"I couldn't renew it
because I was in prison

"and I didn't know how to."

He replied: "They say you came here
illegally in 1990."

Just think: someone gave a name,
surname and date of birth,

all exactly like mine.

I said: "In 1990
I was going through primary school;

"secondary school in '94.

"How could I have done that
if I was here illegally?"

And I had all the papers:
my health service booklet,

the pink form to get a driver's license.

I was in France for six years.

I was in Germany and England.

I speak French very well.

I emigrated at 27.

Now I'm in Italy.

It's a question of intelligence.

To have the guts to emigrate,

to get to know other races,

to be alive.

I'm a sharp kid,
I like to experience life.

If I've got my eyes open
to experience life,

I've got to experience it to the max.

Money is a real curse.

We're condemned to work for money,

to start a family for money.

We're bound by money.

If we have to do something,
we need money.

Going some place takes money.
Marrying takes money.

You can't even afford to die anymore.

Because dying
sets you back 10,000 euros.

At least 10,000.

You have to buy a burial niche,
pay for a funeral.

You need 20,000 euros:
dying costs more than marrying.

I'm telling the truth.
Isn't it like I say it is?

Agencies only take you on for six hours,

then you're 10 days at home
and they call you again for a few days.

They should do
what the youth in France did.

Just like the youth in France.

A big revolt like theirs.

What can we do?
What are we capable of?

The work is short-term?
Never mind.

We're not capable of getting organized,
and what for?

Abroad, we Neapolitans
can only organise football games.

I've always travelled.

I've been all over Italy,
I've been ripped off lots of times.

I didn't find work, I came back
and faced the same problems.

Unfortunately, that's what Italy's like.

I don't think it'll change.

Even if you think about it...

nothing changes.

I talked to my wife and she said:

"We either make a go of it here
or we go abroad.

"But if we leave and don't find work
we've got to come back here.

"What'll we do?

"Going backwards and forwards
doesn't solve anything.

"But if you get a good job abroad,

"I'll leave right away.

"But if you work for a month,

"just to come back to Naples

"to be unemployed again,

"what will we do?

"Go sleep at my mom's?"

It's not worth it.

I got married
to settle down with my family.

It's my house.

It's the only way
to stay free and independent.

Man is a creature of habit,
he does what he's used to.

You have to follow your destiny.

If I'd got mixed up with money,
I'd be finished.

But I never did, so I saved myself.

Whoever gets mixed up with money
is finished.

They're a slave to money.

People who go to church
are slaves to the church.

People on trains
are slaves to the trains.

Everyone settles where they prefer.

The most important thing
is to be alive,

the rest doesn't matter.

In Italy I've got a season ticket...


I got it yesterday for 200 euros.

There was a time
when I had one for Rome too.

Once upon a time, for 32,000 liras,

you could travel all over Italy
for a month.

I always used Interrail then.
Do you know Interrail?

I always had an Interrail ticket:
France, Germany, Switzerland.

Then, with Peter Kolosimo...

Do you know who he is?

He wrote science fiction books.

He shaped my ID,
as a citizen of the world,

what a citizen of the world should be.

I've always been a citizen of the world.

I've always been free.

The archives of the Alto Adige newspaper
should have

my European flag
that flew over Castel Guncina in Bolzano

and over Bronzolo because during
the whole month of voting in Bronzolo

the flag flew over Scrinzi's house
in Bronzolo.

Three metres by two,
the European flag.

Bronzolo is the only town in the world

where the inhabitants voted
Europe and the World.

They voted as citizens of the world.

My papers disappeared, all my stuff.

They wanted to destroy me,
to show I didn't exist.

The Volkspartei Christian Democrats
wanted to wipe me out,


"Arturo's neither soft nor hard,
he's like a lump of lard.

He's as tough as an old guard".

The Police Chief in Bolzano got orders
to get rid of me

because of what I wrote
in the article.

So he summoned me to the headquarters
and provoked me.

I reacted to his provocations.

So he arrested me.

And Judge Pombeni declared me crazy:

"Because of his ideas,
Nicolodi is judged a fanatic,

with intellectual faculties
slightly below what's considered normal."

Destiny shapes our lives,
we don't do a thing.

We adapt to daily circumstances.

We do right or we do wrong,

but our destiny is already laid out.

When we returned from Austria,

where I applied for political asylum.

They rejected my application,
they beat me and sent me back...

to Italy.

Then they put me in prison in Merano.

In Bolzano Prison
I went on a hunger strike

and they wanted to use a probe on me.

You know,
when they force-feed you after five days.

They wanted to put me in a home,

but instead of going to a home,
I live on trains.

At a certain age
they wanted to put me in a home

so I could no longer get on their nerves.

And so the only choice was the trains.

I can come and go,
and no one bothers me.

They all wanted to put my brain to sleep.
Eat, drink, sleep, become an animal.

There are lots of animals.
What's one more or one less.

Circumstances demanded
that I adopted a position.

I adopted a position that seemed
to be the right one at the time.

Circumstances obligated you
to do something, and I did...

for better or worse.

When I went into the army,

my friends changed destinations
according to what they wanted.

Friends and acquaintances
sent them where they wanted.

I never changed anything.
They're all dead, I'm still here.

I always went with the flow of destiny

and destiny lead me to become a tramp,

the most powerful in the world.

It's stupid to say

that Southern kids don't want to move.

If we all leave, who'll be left?

there isn't the possibility of work.

You don't work for fun.

I took the train to go see
this famous Milan.

I wandered about
for a couple of weeks,

then I found the job I do now...

Martinatella has a small harbour,
Vieste has a port,

Peschici has a port,
Rodi doesn't have a port...

Wandering around:
on trains, in churches,

in hospitals, everywhere...

For Arturo, still travelling.