Daphne Di Cinto is the creator of the multi-award-winning film “Il Moro” which continues to gain traction. Il Moro is a 2024 Oscar Qualified short film that Daphne is working relentlessly to it make become a series.
Alessandro de’ Medici, the very first Duke of Florence, is a prominent figure on which “Il Moro” is based on. We understand that you were an instrumental advocate in getting his name placed on his tombstone in Italy. What did this profound advocacy work entail? We would love to hear about this special journey for you.
It all started when I found out that Alessandro de’ Medici, this prominent figure in Italian and European history, was Afro-European, specifically Black Italian. As a Black Italian woman, I was flabbergasted that I had never been taught about his background, nor it seemed to be common knowledge for most people. As I furthered my research and visited Alessandro’s resting place in the beautiful Cappelle Medicee, in Florence, I was even more surprised to find absolutely no visible inscription that witnessed his presence. He had been the first Duke of the City. All of the other members of his family were mentioned, even minor ones, but he wasn’t.
Today, 500 years after his death, in Italy it is still a struggle to be recognized as Italian if you also are of African descent, with many Italian-born and raised children not being granted citizenship nor have the right to apply for it until they are 18 years old if their parents aren’t Italian. And at 18 that citizenship isn’t automatically granted. For many, it’s a long, painful, and debilitating process. Alessandro’s story, so distant in time, felt somewhat connected to the stories of many of us today. How long should we keep on being erased from our own country, our own home? So after the film came out and started a successful festival run, I petitioned the Council of Florence and asked for Alessandro’s name to be present alongside those of the rest of his family. The petition was received by the councilors Bundu and Palagi of the party Sinistra Progetto Comune and they presented it to the rest of the Council of Florence. It was then forwarded to the director of the Cappelle Medicee, where Alessandro’s tomb is. A response finally came back saying that his name would be added to the new informational panels available to the visitors, upon reopening after the current renovations. I don’t know if there will be any information about his background, but at least he will be present and that’s a first step. Which is also a first step towards recognizing our presence inside our own history.
What do you think is vital for audiences to know about the film ahead of watching and after?
I truly believe in Fannie Lou Hamer’s quote: “Until I am free, you are not free either.” I think that it’s important for the rest of the world to be aware that there is a rich African European community that goes beyond the victimized image that the media usually presents of the African presence in Europe. And it is important to understand that in many European nations, our presence is still being challenged or denied today, often at a level that in the USA would be considered illegal.
Il Moro, along with the work of other filmmakers in Europe, hopes to shift the way our backgrounds are used for political propaganda, into a point of view that celebrates the multifaceted nature of Europe and its millennial history. The stories and the people have always been there and belong to the history of us all Europeans, but we have to actively decide to see them.
To not avert our eyes from those who aren’t as free as us and to use our voice, as little as it may be, to name their struggle, is and always will be an active gesture of human respect.
From the world première at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles to now, how have to come to this successful peak in your filmmaking career? What do you think have been some of the most unique qualities that have gotten you to this point?
Il Moro is my directorial debut, so I wouldn’t call it a peak, I wish for it to be a starting point. I think that the main fuel that brought me here is passion, in its various declinations: passion for life, passion for learning, passion against injustice, passion for my job, and passion for the characters that ask for their stories to be told. And of course, I could have never survived without the warmth of certain people around me that picked me up every time I fell. They are few and very very special to my heart.
How did you get involved with the Italy Vanity Fair Stories last year? What took place during that event, and what were some moments that stick with you?
Vanity Fair Italy is doing an amazing job at representing and fostering Italy’s diversity. There are many people who are working hard behind closed doors, I’ll mention one for all because she is also part American, Veronica Costanza Ward. She is a smart and attentive journalist, a supporter of Il Moro from day one and she is the person that suggested my involvement in Vanity Fair Stories. Last year’s theme was ‘change’ and a number of Italian personalities took the stage to talk about what change means in all of its forms.
A moment that stuck with me was the comment of Wariboko’s Charity Dago about the beauty of living in a black body: the power contained in that message. I also had a little cheesy moment when after the event I saw a picture of the panel I was on: once as a teenager I photoshopped myself in a Vanity Fair article for fun. And there I was speaking at its most important yearly event. Everything comes in divine timing and I am continuously grateful for this journey.
Follow Daphne @daphnedicinto
Follow “Il Moro” @ilmorofilm
Fun fact about Daphne Di Cinto: The moment she became a co-winner of the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival, she was screening “Il Moro” at Urbanworld.
Photo Credits: Stefania Okerere