Families without borders
The story of the Quaranta family is one of migration, large and small, throughout the first half of the 20th century. Agostino Quaranta is a young non-commissioned officer in the army who has moved to Bologna for work. Here he meets Jolanda, who came to the city at a very young age to work for a wealthy family. The two immediately fell in love and Agostino even gave up going to Canada for Jolanda, where his entire family now lived. Amidst a thousand difficulties, the two finally managed to marry and overcome the tumultuous wartime period unscathed, settling permanently in Bologna.
Having always been passionate about photography, Agostino only began filming at the end of the 1950s. The 23 8mm reels of which it is composed are entirely dedicated to the family, but the domestic environment is not always that of a typical Bolognese home. His is in fact an extended family, in which, together with his children Enzo and Maria Grazia, his nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws also spend long periods of time. The opportunity to film is often provided by family encounters in the most diverse places: Calabria, where Agostino was born, and the Apennines where Jolanda comes from; Rieti and San Giorgio a Cremano, where his son Enzo also attends the NCO school; Toronto and Niagara Falls where Agostino’s parents and some of his siblings live and where, in 1964, the family can finally reunite after years of separation. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
A varied and unusual family geography thus emerges as a backdrop to the walks that little Maria Grazia continuously takes for her father Agostino’s film set.
The user can explore the film collection through a wide selection of sequences shot by Agostino Quaranta. Digitised film material can be viewed in chronological order or via the menu. Short texts, included in titles, captions or superimposed on images, introduce, contextualise and give precise indications about people, places and situations. The information was collected through careful research, documentation and cataloguing. The editing and video edition was done with Klynt software.
(texts edited by Chiara Petrucci)
Vittorio Agostino Quaranta was born in Bianchi, in Cosenza province, in 1917. His father Vincenzo was moving back and forth from Canada since 1906 and 1907, where he built the railroad and the hydroelectric power plant of Niagara Falls. His mother Maria Cristina remains at first in Calabria, where her daughter Nunziata and his sons Rocco, Stefano, Agostino and Antonio were born. She will not move to Canada until 1929, expecting his son Ettore and taking with her his little son Antonio. Vincenzo, in the meantime, had requested and obtained the family reunification visa for his older sons, while Agostino was momentarily entrusted to her sister Nunziata, who had moved to Bianchi in the meantime. A series of family setbacks puts an end to the relationship between Vincenzo and his daughter Nunziata and will impede Agostino to join his family in Canada. His sister emigrates and leaves him in a Salesian school, where he will remain until the age of 18. He still can’t join his family, so Agostino will enroll the Royal Army, and he will be immediately sent to the Bologna Military Hospital. He meets Jolanda Musolesi there, a girl who moved to Bologna to work as housekeeper and lady-in-waiting and who he will marry in 1942. In 1939 his father Vincenzo had finally obtained the family reunification for the son still in Italy, but Agostino had already started his career in the Army and was strongly convinced to marry Jolanda, so he refused the offer, and he will be the only family member who won’t emigrate to Canada.
The last years of the war are particularly troubled for the young couple: Agostino was in Yugoslavia with the Royal Army, and will be taken prisoner just days before the Armistice, while Jolanda escaped to the Appenine Mountains with his son Vincenzo, called Enzo, and the little Edera, who will not survive the war.
After the war both will rejoin and, after having moved several times, they buy a house in via Sant’Isaia 21. It’s 1951, the year in which the other daughter, Maria Grazia, was born.
In 1954 Agostino travels to Canada for the first time, where he finally can embrace his parents and brothers, whom he hasn’t seen for 25 years. During this trip Quaranta buys a video camera and a photo camera, which he use to record every single detail of his family life.
10 years later, during a trip organized to reunite Italo-canadian families, Agostino will come back to Canada accompanied this time by Jolanda, Vincenzo and Maria Grazia: for the first and only time all the Quaranta family will be together in one place.
Agostino will always live in Bologna, always at the same number of via Sant’Isaia where Enzo and Maria Grazia will buy two apartments and will live there with their families, filming their family life until the second half of the 70’s.
filmmaker, to the National Family Film Archive in 2010. The films, which had been preserved since then at first at the home of the Quaranta family in Bologna and their summer home in Sasso Marconi after, have been shot in 8mm. After the acquisition, the rolls have been accurately restored and had been digitalized. The reorganization of the material has been done with the help of Maria Grazia Quaranta, following the instructions she gave during several meetings between 2014 and 2015.
The film collection includes 26 films –approximately 4 hours- (4 of which are still being edited), which were shot in 8mm and have different length. Most of them were filmed by Agostino Quaranta between the mid 50’s and the early 70’s.
The films are strictly familiar, often focused on the children or on jokes among relatives. The Quaranta family appears here as a real enlarged family who shares with the numerous relatives not only baptisms and weddings, but practically any free time. On the other hand, the films had been shot mainly in Bologna, hometown of the Quarantas, Bianchi (Cosenza), birthplace of Agostino, and San Benedetto Val di Sambro, birthplace of his wife Jolanda. There were also numerous Sunday trips in various Italian cities, some trips to visit his son Enzo during his time at the military school, and the long summers at the Romagnola Riviera with their friends and family.
The 1964 trip to Canada, where the parents and brothers of Agostino were living for longtime then, is by far the most important of the films. Ten years after his first trip to Canada he was able to introduce his wife Jolanda and his daughter Maria Grazia to his Canadian family.
Plenty of jokes, souvenir photos and landscapes, the images shot in Canada give us an authentic portrait of an immigrant family fully integrated in Niagara Falls and Toronto after more than 40 years living there. They are so integrated in the Italian-American community that some of them play a relevant role within the local Italian-American institutions.