Irregulars: Documenting Personal and Global Narratives

Irregulars by Fabio Palmieri (NotWorkingFilms) is an account of one refugee’s experience. It also encapsulates the global immigration crisis where those that flee from war, persecution and poverty face a dangerous and often deadly voyage across the Mediterranean. Set against the backdrop of a mannequin factory, the film is as visually striking as it is heart wrenching. Palmieri offers an insight into this work.

ASFF: Your use of a mannequin factory was highly effective in creating a sense of unease and alienation. How did you find inspiration for this location and how did you source it?
When I see something unusual, exceptional and unique, I always try to keep it strong in my mind. It could be a location, a character, an action or an entire scene, it depends how lucky I am! I try to be attentive to these things and to understand the different levels of meaning that it could have. The mannequin factory, with all its metaphors, became easily the perfect stylisation for the refugee migration tragedy.

I believe that movies, even documentaries, are form of art, they have different and higher purposes than simply to inform you on something. If you need to be updated you already have TV, newspapers and the internet. I firmly believe in the power of art and that it must go beyond reality.

ASFF: Can you talk about the process of writing the refugee’s story for film?
Unfortunately, many of these stories are very similar: torture, ill-treatment, suffering, it is literally a hellish odyssey. However, what strikes me more than the physical pain people endure is the destruction of their identity and dreams, which kills the soul of our being.

We met Cyrille in a park in Milan and his story was so touching that I felt the need and the urgency to document it. Since he was afraid that his family could see how sad and desperate he was, he didn’t want to appear in the film so we just recorded his voice.

ASFF: The film screened at ASFF 2016 and won the Best of Fest as well as the Best Documentary Awards. Where do you hope to take Irregulars next? FP: We are grateful that Irregulars is having such a great and prestigious festival run. Honestly, I don’t know where it will lead; at some point the oeuvres create their own way.

ASFF: you were able to attend ASFF and collect your award in person. What were your festival highlights?
First of all I must say that York is a jewel of a city, and that the festival’s venues are amazing. You can feel the charm and the energy that flows through the alleys and snickleways of York. I mostly enjoyed the animation screenings, which were so experimental and inspiring. Also, the York Youth showcase was top notch.

ASFF: Are you working on any new documentaries now?
We have just finished our last film Blurred, a short documentary about a young professional dancer who is blind and deformed from the consequences of a congenital retinoblastoma, but, despite her disability, she has not given away her chance of being a woman. She wants to be liked and to like herself. It is a very intimate portrait. We are working on some scripts for features and are searching for a strong partner to produce them.

Watch the trailer for Irregulars:

For more information on the film, visit

ASFF 2017 is now open for entries:

1. Fabio Palmieri (NotWorkingFilms), Irregulars