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24 December1975
The eve
Don Cirillo Vitalini
Music & sound design by Dario Mattina

The initial sign reads: Christmas Eve '75: not only the children... "Come Lord Jesus". But in the nursery school in Stazzona, a village in the Como area where Fr Cirillo Vitalini is a priest, many children who will one day grow up are gathered together. For now, Don Cirillo films them in the courtyard: he has always been a passionate filmmaker and a careful ethnographer with a camera. Schools and children are one of the privileged subjects of this priest who is an indispensable reference point for several generations of different communities in upper Lombardy where he has always lived. Vitalini felt the urgency to record one of the many experiences of sharing and education: thus he filmed the Christmas artefacts produced by the children under the nuns' guidance, including a beautiful nativity scene made with puppets. This film, like many others, is made to be seen later. According to testimonies, Vitalini 'used to go around the places where he was visiting or presiding, with a small cloth or tent and project his films', and it was precisely at the school in Stazzona that the priest used to present and comment on them. It is not difficult to imagine him presenting sequences of community members sharpening scythes in the fields, hand-picking grapes in the autumn season or doing laundry in the river, and encouraging viewers to participate, identifying themselves or the actions recorded, emphasising the importance of these events and traditions. It will also have done so with these children filmed on an unforgettable Christmas Eve.