November 11, 2012 by Italians in Chicago
Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini presented a documentary on Nov.4 and gave Italians and Americans an overview and a prediction of the presidential election of 2012.
Portland 2 Portland – A Political Train Journey Across America, is the result of the journalist’s experience of his traveling across North America to discover people’s opinions, fears, and hopes just four months before the election.
Severgnini’s trip started in Portland, Maine, and ended in Portland, Oregon. He crossed 18 states in 18 days. He travelled with his fellow German journalist Karl Hoffmann, the producers Andrea Salvadore and Soledad Ugolinelli, and Alberto Engeli and Gianni Scimone the two cameramen.
“This is a very special evening, it’s a joy and a real privilege to be here and show you this unusual mix of reporting public affairs, politics, and fiction,” Severgnini said. “It’s a train journey and this train contains narrative.”
The documentary was presented in Chicago just 36 hours before the presidential elections.
Severgnini said the documentary was long but pretty intensive. He would not explicitly answer the question about who he though was the winner of the election, but gave an implicit response through the images of his documentary.
The trip represented also a challenge for the group because of the physical stress that it involved. Also, Severgnini was surprised to discover that American trains are not so much different from Italian trains, in terms of space, delays, and people who run them.
The trip was also a great journalism experience for Severgnini because it gave him the opportunity to see, touch, and feel all the emotions of the people he met.
“If you wake up at four in the morning in North Montana and you decide that it’s exciting to be there, you want to see what’s happening; otherwise is too easy, you are just a columnist or a writer,” he said.
Severgnini described the preparation of the documentary as expensive and sometimes difficult.
“Amtrak literally drove me crazy,” he said. “We just asked for the permission to film and they said no.”
The U.S. train company said they could not give them the permission because they could not send somebody from their team to be with them and control that everything was fine. Severgnini had to find a way to make them to collaborate and give him the permission.
He told Amtrak heads that the project would have involved many countries and it would have used with with many media outlets.
“I must have added the magic words. I said: Look, I am talking to an American company and we are offering visibility with zero costs,” Severgnini said. “I am really surprised. This is the first time that I see Americans turning this way in front of a business opportunity.”
After Amtrak said yes, the group did not have any more problem in filming and producing the documentary. The company became very collaborative and nice to them. Also, when they asked permissions to film passengers, everybody was very happy and gave its own contribution.
“Everybody wanted to be there and to be part of it,” said cameraman Scimone.
Severgnini did not unveil the name of the winner of the presidential elections after the projection, but he made his opinion clear through the images of the documentary.