Stefano Usberghi and Giovanni Corsi direct ‘Isma’.
Isma is a visual journey through the life and music of Ismalia Mbaye, an accomplished percussion master, considered one of the leading African percussionists on the European scene.
Words from Stefano and Giovanni below.

What can you tell us about your choice of location, Castel Volturno?
‘Isma’ was shot almost entirely in Castel Volturno – also known as Terra dei Fuochi, territory controlled by the Camorra. Although it is halfway between Rome and Naples, it is a borderland, torn between Campania and Africa. Today it is one of the largest drug markets in Italy and Europe, largely inhabited by exploited migrants.

The strong symbolic value of that place so abandoned to itself was the perfect counterpart for the struggle of our character.


Can you share an insight into your creative collaboration with Ismalia Mbaye in constructing this film?
The encounter between the visuals and the poetic confession of the voice-over naturally sprang from a series of meetings and chats with Isma in which we talked at length about his art, his history, and how he approaches the creative process as an artist.

Shot on Kodak 7219 and 7207, what options did they give you?

We looked at Francis Bacon paintings before shooting the film to give us feelings and textures in terms of what we were looking to capture. 7219 and 7207 are both two exceptional film stocks. We switched between them as we needed different sensibilities in terms of exposure.

What are you reading at the moment?

Stefano: ‘Journey to the End of the Night’ by Celine.
Giovanni: ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts.


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