A sense of belonging is at stake for the two different exiles at the heart of this immersive first dramatic feature from noted Italian documentarist Andrea Segre. Illegal Chinese immigrant Shun Li (Zhao Tao, the muse of Chinese auteur Jia Zhang-ke) is working bar jobs to pay off her debt to the traffickers who smuggled her into Italy. One of her regulars, an elderly fisherman (Rade Sherbedgia, a Croatian who’s played a few Hollywood heavies in his time), makes up his own rhymes and isn’t really a ‘poet’ per se, but does yearn for the Yugoslavia he fled years ago.
Friendship and acceptance play off against greed and intolerance as their developing bond takes its course, subtly rendered in a film which captures the misty allure of the Veneto lagoon, and is exquisitely scored by ECM artist François Couturier. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)