Technical Details

  • Temporary Title - Tomato Blues
  • Shooting locations - Southern Italy (mostly)
  • Project development stage - Research and writing
  • Duration - 75-100 min
  • Shooting - digital 4k
  • Shooting time - one month


‘Tomato blues’ is a road movie (documentary) addressing the roots and causes of the Blues: the suffering and the hardship experienced by human beings living in a slave or
semi-slave condition. But it will also address the possibility of dialogue and liberation through music and creation.

A small troupe of documentarists will follow a blues musician (or, alternatively, a small blues band) in a tour through the Southern Italy countryside, crowded by illegal migrants working the land, in search of a musical exchange that could lead to a deeper knowledge and understanding between human beings.

During the journey, the bluesman (or the blues band) will compose a music score out of the fusion between their music and the music of the poor day laborers. This music will also be the soundtrack of the film.

This music score will also be published separately from the documentary, as a music CD and on-line, and it will be promoted by music video created with the footage shot for the documentary.

The question that the documentary will rise is: Is the music a valuable tool to change the world? Can it be used to open people ‘s  (documentarists’, migrants’ and viewers’ ) eyes and mind and heart?  All this involve an idealistic approach!

This way, we want to address the important issue of migration and modern slavery in a different manner, distancing our self from the typical news reportage.


The ‘sunny’ countryside of Southern Italy, during the summer months, is crowded by hundreds of thousands of day laborers, modern slaves, (mostly illegally) hired for picking tomatoes and other vegetables, with ridiculous salaries.

Big companies operating in the distribution of food products and many cynic landowners exploit hundred of thousands of day laborers in the whole Southern Italy.  Italian proletarians and foreign desperate migrants compose the rank of this exploited mass with equal number . Migrants are coming from all over the world: Sub Saharan Africa, East Europe, Maghreb, Central Asia…  Most of the migrants live in shantytowns in conditions comparable to those of the world’s poorest  areas.

Migrants tend to form communities of people coming from the same part of the world, Bulgarians, Central Asians of Muslim religion, East African Christians… as a mirror of the tragic division of the world between rich and poor, between different ethnical groups, between religions…

In every community music is used to express pain and to soothe the struggle for surviving  and the humiliation of their living conditions.

In Borgo Mezzanone, in the hot and fertile plain surrounding Foggia, in Puglia, Bulgarian day laborers built a ‘favela’ on the verge of a waste dump. In this shanty town more than 2000 people live, including many women and children. There is no water nor electricity. At night, Balkan music play through loudspeaker powered by car batteries.

Just 5 kilometres eastward, more the 2000 migrants, mostly from Nigeria, live in metallic containers laid down on a landing strip of a dismissed military airbase. Most of them are illegal migrants, without documents: they live in a no mans land, they can’t  return to their country, neither they can live in Europe. They work for 60 cents for every big case of picked tomatoes, without any medical assistance, nor any legal protection against the abuses of the landlords.

One of them, driven by a mystical drive, transformed a building previously used as public WC into a small Christian church, where gospels and cries of sufferance and pain compose a truly felt blues soundtrack of the camp’s life.

Those are just some of the situation we found in our on going research on the migrants camps in the fields of Southern Italy.

Director’s Note:

The documentary is going to be a road movie.

It will be self reflexive, and the protagonists will be not only the bluesman (or the blues band) but the documentartists and the migrants  as well.

Documentary will start in the country where the bluesman (or bluesband) comes from, at the very beginning of the Bluesman’s (or the blues  band’s)  journey.

The film will be structured on chapters, each for every location or bidonville that will be visited.

The blues man’s and the troupe’s journey will attempt to establish a communication with the migrant laborers, and everyone will be asked to expose himself (herself)   and reveal himself (herself), his (her) own preconception and his(her) own willingness to listen and show the true self. 

The troupe will be composed of Harvinder Singh and Saverio Paoletta (Directors, Harvinder will also operate one camera) ; one second cameramen; one sound technician; one runner-prop man; the bluesman (or small blue band).

We will film with portable cameras capable to produce 4K images (like Black Magic or Canon Eos 1dc).

The open and magnificent landscape will be as much a protagonist as all the other characters:  the bluesman, the documentarists and the day laborers.

We will use short focal lengths lens and large depth of field to include characters in the landscape and to express vastness, loss, chance, possibility  and dismay.

We will look at the photographs of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Sebastiano Salgado and at the cinematography of Wim Venders for inspiration for our cinematography.

Black and white is a serious option to be considered.


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