We are joined by Dom­iz­iana De Fulvio , the vis­ion­ary dir­ect­or behind the power­ful doc­u­ment­ary “Sis­ter­hood.” Through her film, Dom­iz­iana De Fulvio takes us on a jour­ney to explore the lives of women’s street bas­ket­ball teams in dif­fer­ent parts of the world, uncov­er­ing the inspir­ing stor­ies of empower­ment, solid­ar­ity, and sis­ter­hood. Today, we have the priv­ilege of delving into the inspir­a­tion behind the doc­u­ment­ary, the chal­lenges faced dur­ing film­ing in three diverse loc­a­tions, and the sig­ni­fic­ance of the title “Sis­ter­hood” in con­vey­ing its pro­found themes. Dom­iz­iana De Fulvio also shares insights into the col­lab­or­a­tion with Oracy, whose music enhances the storytelling in the film and its accom­pa­ny­ing video clip. Join us as we unravel the lay­ers of this remark­able pro­ject and its impact on audi­ences world­wide.

What inspired you to cre­ate the doc­u­ment­ary “Sis­ter­hood” and explore the lives of women’s street bas­ket­ball teams in dif­fer­ent parts of the world?

The pro­ject ori­gin­ated from a per­son­al point of view. Street cul­ture, which con­trib­uted to my edu­ca­tion in film, art, and real life, sparked my interest in the vari­ous aspects of women’s group aggreg­a­tion. Exper­i­en­cing firsthand the begin­ning of a sports activ­ity, bas­ket­ball, in adult­hood, I found it inter­est­ing to search for affin­it­ies and points of uni­on with the oth­er real­it­ies I encountered. Thus, before I star­ted film­ing the women prot­ag­on­ists, I had the oppor­tun­ity to get to know them on the play­ing field.

How did you select the three loc­a­tions (New York, Beirut, Rome) for the doc­u­ment­ary, and what were some of the chal­lenges you faced while film­ing in each loc­a­tion?

The places came about almost by chance. The mean­ing of sis­ter­hood is not ran­dom, but the places are. They rep­res­ent three dif­fer­ent women’s real­it­ies that I had the oppor­tun­ity to engage with on the field as well. At first, I thought I would only tell the story of the Beirut team. I had met the Palestini­an and Lebanese girls through a pro­ject called Bas­ket Beats Bor­ders by Daniele Bon­ifazi and Dav­id Rug­gini, act­iv­ists of Un ponte per. Through the pro­ject, the Palestini­an women’s bas­ket­ball team came to Rome for two years. As I got to know the young women bet­ter, I became fas­cin­ated by their exper­i­ence and matured the idea of telling their stor­ies. In the mean­time, how­ever, I won a schol­ar­ship that took me to New York. It was there that I met the Ladies Who Hoop. I then began to think it would be inter­est­ing to tell the real­it­ies of the three teams to high­light the concept of sis­ter­hood. At dif­fer­ent lat­it­udes, three dif­fer­ent women’s bas­ket­ball teams had emerged with very sim­il­ar approaches to the game and cer­tain issues but also dif­fer­ent needs. The biggest chal­lenge was set­ting up the pro­duc­tion machine, but thanks to the girls and the small crew, it was a fant­ast­ic exper­i­ence. In Rome, it was very dif­fi­cult to nar­rate the crew because it was also my real­ity, so there was a strong emo­tion­al com­pon­ent.

In New York, it was dif­fi­cult because, for eco­nom­ic reas­ons, we had to shoot in a few days, which is really a chal­lenge for a doc­u­ment­ary! Going to Shat­ila was power­ful for me and my trav­el­ing com­pan­ions Nicolò Biarese (DOP) and Michal Kuli­goeski (sound). You know the his­tory of the camp, but when you get there, it is some­thing else, and you real­ize that the situ­ation is hyper-com­plex.

In the Shat­ila camp, there have been refugees for 50–60 years. There are people, like the girls you see in the doc­u­ment­ary, who have nev­er seen Palestine and will nev­er see it, just as they will nev­er see many of their rel­at­ives, friends, and friends of their par­ents. These people are not giv­en papers and are denied the oppor­tun­ity to pur­sue cer­tain stud­ies or simply to work to sup­port them­selves and their fam­il­ies. Because in Beirut and Leban­on, there is a social stigma attached to just being Palestini­an. For them, sports, and the one they have cre­ated thanks to BBB, is not only a “safe” and escap­ist space, but it is also the one that, as of now, allows them to travel, learn about new real­it­ies, and carve out moments of “nor­malcy.”

Can you tell us more about the sig­ni­fic­ance of the title “Sis­ter­hood” and how it ties into the themes of empower­ment and solid­ar­ity in the film?

I chose “Sis­ter­hood” as my title to merge the kind of cul­ture that formed me with some of the fem­in­ist the­or­ies of the 1970s. “Sis­ter­hood is Power­ful” was the title of a book writ­ten by Robin Mor­gan. The sis­ter­hood described by Mo at the begin­ning of the doc­u­ment­ary refers to Afric­an-Amer­ic­an cul­ture. But it’s also the one I wanted to shed light on with my work: sis­ter­hood as a fam­ily mod­el. Often, they find sis­ters or broth­ers even out­side blood ties. The fam­ily can also be all the com­munity of people that we cre­ate around ourselves and with whom we feel good. It is not uncom­mon for friends to become like sis­ters. Deep rela­tion­ships are born with them, dic­tated by affin­it­ies, intel­lec­tu­al interests, and shared struggles. In defi­ance of all those who declare that there is only one fam­ily, the nat­ur­al one. The intent was to show that there are altern­at­ive mod­els. The doc­u­ment­ary fea­tures valu­able inter­na­tion­al rep­er­toire foot­age show­cas­ing the struggles of women through­out his­tory.

How did you decide which his­tor­ic­al events and demon­stra­tions to include, and what mes­sage were you try­ing to con­vey through this jux­ta­pos­i­tion?

No, the doc­u­ment­ary con­tains only images that we shot in dif­fer­ent cit­ies. The video clip, on the oth­er hand, is made up of archive images of fem­in­ist struggles from the 70s to the present day in dif­fer­ent parts of the world. It is as if Oracy made a space-time jour­ney to mark that… we still have to fight togeth­er!

Oracy’s song “Sis­ter­hood” serves as the soundtrack to the doc­u­ment­ary and now has its own video clip. Can you share the pro­cess of col­lab­or­at­ing with Oracy and how her music enhances the storytelling in the film?

Oracy com­posed the final song of the doc­u­ment­ary, and I think this adds value. Oracy man­aged to write a text that encom­passes all the themes and spir­it of the film even before see­ing the fin­ished doc­u­ment­ary.

The entire soundtrack of the film was edited by Valerio Vigli­ar, and by our choice, we decided to avoid rap music, although I am a big fan of the genre. But I was afraid of being redund­ant, espe­cially giv­en the street com­pon­ent, and it would have been a little obvi­ous. For the finale, how­ever, I wanted rap, and I wanted Oracy, so I decided to con­tact her via Ins­tagram, and she was imme­di­ately enthu­si­ast­ic about col­lab­or­at­ing on the pro­ject.

As the dir­ect­or of both the doc­u­ment­ary and the video clip, what were your goals in bring­ing togeth­er inde­pend­ent film and music? How do you feel the video clip deep­ens the explor­a­tion of the themes presen­ted in the doc­u­ment­ary?

I believe that col­lab­or­a­tion between dif­fer­ent arts is essen­tial and that pre­cisely because they are inde­pend­ent, they should be stim­u­lated. The video clip mainly tells about the vari­ous fem­in­ist struggles that there have been and are in vari­ous parts of the world. So, here is the deep­en­ing and also the desire to research the under­ly­ing theme of the doc­u­ment­ary: sis­ter­hood. The edit­or, Francesca Bracci, and I really enjoyed work­ing on this dia­logue with archiv­al mater­i­al. We also trans­ferred mater­i­al from VHS to digit­al!

Self-pro­du­cing the video clip must have presen­ted its own set of chal­lenges. Can you talk about the col­lab­or­at­ive efforts and organ­iz­a­tions involved in bring­ing this pro­ject to life?

Unfor­tu­nately, it was dif­fi­cult to find a budget and the time to pro­duce the video clip since Oracy and I live in two dif­fer­ent coun­tries. So, the real­iz­a­tion was pos­sible thanks to people who provided their pro­fes­sion­al­ism, such as Francesca Bracci (also the edit­or of the doc­u­ment­ary), Uli­ano Pao­lozzi Balestrini, Gian­clau­dio Pal­lotta, and some organ­iz­a­tions such as D‑Vsion Movie People, AAMOD, Cal­ispo Book­ciak, and all the people who shared their videos with us, such as Melina Leonor, Emer­gents TV, Vale-Kum­bamela, Cristina Petrucci, Lidia Rav­viso.

The film has gained sig­ni­fic­ant atten­tion over the past two years and has even been fea­tured on plat­forms like Net­flix. How has the audi­ence response been, and what impact do you hope the film and the video clip will have on view­ers?

The doc­u­ment­ary has per­formed very well, des­pite being released dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. It even recor­ded a week of box office receipts in a cinema in Rome, selling out on the first night! It has also been well-received on online plat­forms. I believe that the three teams, in their own small way, have cre­ated altern­at­ive mod­els to what we are used to.

It is inter­est­ing to point out how the Amer­ic­ans do a com­pletely unpre­ced­en­ted work with young girls, start­ing from the age of 12. Or how the Palestini­an girls man­age to carry out their inten­tions with determ­in­a­tion and con­stancy. The doc­u­ment­ary show­cases these teams, while the video clip fea­tures oth­er women. I hope that these stor­ies serve as a stim­u­lus to the view­ers.

In “Sis­ter­hood,” you high­light the import­ance of shar­ing, solid­ar­ity net­works, and the strength found in com­munit­ies. How do you envi­sion the film and the video clip inspir­ing and encour­aging audi­ences to foster these val­ues in their own lives?

The prot­ag­on­ists of the two audi­ovisu­al pro­jects primar­ily take care of them­selves, take their own space, and do it togeth­er with oth­er women. In a soci­ety increas­ingly focused on the indi­vidu­al and cap­it­al, their approach to life seems to me an example to fol­low. These sport­ing and inform­al real­it­ies, such as fem­in­ist col­lect­ives, con­sti­tute gar­ris­ons of res­ist­ance against male viol­ence, social mar­gin­al­iz­a­tion, and rep­res­ent a strong impetus for the trans­form­a­tion of soci­ety.

What are your future plans for “Sis­ter­hood” and your upcom­ing pro­jects? Do you have any new top­ics or themes you are inter­ested in explor­ing through your work?

I would like “Sis­ter­hood” to con­tin­ue to be watched, includ­ing organ­iz­ing screen­ings in schools. I hope that the three lead teams will meet soon, and watch­ing the doc­u­ment­ary will spur the cre­ation of oth­er spon­tan­eous groups of women who play sports, if only for fun. Most import­antly, I want to con­tin­ue to explore new com­munit­ies and oth­er stor­ies of struggle and sis­ter­hood.

Learn more about ‘Sis­ter­hood’ Here

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.