“To Nicoletta, make the readers of the article listen to the Fask“. This is the message that I bring to you by Giacomo Mazzariol: a boy who has removed the plates from paintings to watch the essential, what is inside the canvases. And this thanks to the help of Gio. Finally, we meet. The destination is Badia Polesine (RO) before a public appointment. He is only twenty years old, he can be my son. He is solar, he has a nice face, and clear ideas. Until a couple of years ago his life was quiet, in the quiet town of Castelfranco Veneto. Until he decided to shoot it. Giacomo Mazzariol, at that time just eighteen years old, did not calculated that the “SHORT“, “The Simple Interview“, posted on YouTube, in just a few hours would have been a big success on the web ending up on the pages of the newspapers and on TV. It tells behind and in front of the camera a paradoxical situation. The protagonist is his brother Giovanni 13 years old, which is affected by Down Syndrome, in a tie and jacket, with a suitcase in his hand for a job interview. A video that leaves a trail of emotion. No tearjerker situations, no pietism but the surreal encounter between two dimensions: the one of the “normality” and the one of “diversity“, which too often travel parallelly because of our mental categories.
Giacomo breaks with the classifications between human beings, putting at the centre the person, unique and unrepeatable wonder. And a friendly relationship between brothers. After the success with The Simple Interview, Giacomo comes out. And he does it with a journey from childhood to adolescence alongside his brother, with the many questions that life poses, writing in 2016 for Einaudi a novel entitled “My brother runs after the dinosaurs“. He let us enter into his life, surrounded by two sisters, by a mom and dad, until the protagonist takes the stage, Giovanni, that he believed to be a super hero. “Giovanni was like a packet of sweets all different, until you do not eat them all, you do not know which one is the best”. Giacomo opens the book with this sentence of Einstein: “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, he will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. “The same sentence – he says – could begin with ‘Everybody is a disabled person’, because it is precisely like that, each one of us, simply, has something that he does not know how to do. I, for example, I do not know how to do the washing machine. And you?”.
How did you come up with the idea to shoot the simple interview and staging a job interview?
“I do not know. When you are in a creative process everything you live turns into an idea. After more than ten videos that I had already shot, very bad if I must be honest, I came up with this idea. Giovanni is a born actor. We said: ‘Let’s do an interview’. He proposed: ‘Let’s wear a jacket and a tie’. And I: ‘Come on, we do a job interview’. We bounced the idea between me and him. We did not have a real script but a list of the actions to perform. While we were shooting we got beautiful scenes, very improvised. It is certain that Giovanni was very happy, so that he always wanted to go around in a tie and a jacket!”.
Did you imagine this success?
“No, it was by chance”.
However, you published it on 21 March, World Day of Down Syndrome…
“I wanted to make a video to bring to the student’s meeting of my high school, where I was the representative, that was provided precisely for that day. Then I published it on YouTube, I shared it with my friends who in turn have shared it with others and from there everything started”.
You must also thank Giovanni.
“Yes, it is a common thing. Together”.
Did you understand why your brother runs after dinosaurs?
“It is the same reason why I love basketball. I do not know from where it comes. I tried to understand Gio and his passion, he who is in this Mesozoic, looking the world with his eyes. In fact, the title is a metaphor”.
Your parents told you that your brother would have been special. You thought he would have had superpowers. Instead you have discovered that he did not have them, at least not as you thought, he was down. How was this discovery?
“It was a quiet thing. My life is quite happy. In the novel, the focus is to understand also the criticality. I also told the fatigue. You must make a path. I have also put some seeds of disappointment. However, in reality the world with my brother has almost always been beautiful: with Gio I have always enjoyed”.
During adolescence was it difficult to understand the world of John?
“Yeah, especially when he performs actions that you do not understand. For example, Gio when he is back from school hides behind a glass door… Relating with a person who makes different things is difficult if you do not understand how he thinks. Sometimes with classmates, for years you annoy each other, and then in the last year, you understand that all the actions had a logic, and you become a friend of those who you have never been before. The discovery of the diversity takes a long time, it is never immediate. Immediate is the prejudice… Because it costs less fatigue”.
“The only thing that you can always choose is to love without conditions” says your mother in the book. Your parents have chosen Giovanni also with an extra chromosome. If they would have recurred to the so-called therapeutic abortion, he would never be born.
“I do not want to say what a person in general shall do. But if one resorts to the abortion because he thinks that the life of his/her son will be unhappy, that he/she will have a lot of problems that people will mock him/her… I can say that there is a lot of ignorance. My mother has also said: ‘I made more effort in keeping Giacomo than Giovanni. At the end, the problems are more related to the fact of having a child, that of having a child with a disability”.
What have you learned from the encounter with your brother?
“I had to write a book to say all the things I learned: a way of living, a total revolution of various concepts on the basis of love, passing for the success, arriving to the concept of time. In general, a more dynamic approach with the people. It is a question of movement and the title of the book is a metaphor: if a person is stationary, static, you get what comes to you; if you move and try to understand why he said that sentence, you try to investigate, then you arrive at a greater exchange. He gave me more movement in relations”
The book is dynamic, enjoyable, absolutely not pietistic. Where did you learn to write?
“They taught me. The publishing house put beautiful people beside me, every week I go to the editor as if it was my psychologist. I have always written, I always liked to write, but I am certainly not the best that writes at the age of 20. I came out”.
Now what do you do?
“I moved to Rome to follow some projects. I am writing a blog on La Repubblica, Generation Z, for teenagers and students… it is going well. Shortly I will start the screenplay of my book and I am writing another one. Next year I have in mind to register to the University of Philosophy”.
Isn’t it difficult to keep a blog and to give advices to teenagers like you?
“I look at high schools’ teenagers. But I do not take myself as a foreseer, a guide. They ask me questions that stimulate other ones. I do not give solutions. Those are given by older journalists”.
What do you want to say to the many young people who follow you?
“To listen to good music”.
“Fast animals and Slow Kids (Fask), an Italian band”.
Searching on the internet I discover that in a few weeks they will perform a few kilometres from our headquarters. Perhaps we will go to the concert.