KOI: a short film about perinatal mourning and fathers

by Claudia Ravaldi
CiaoLapo Onlus
CiaoLapo Onlus

The impact of perinatal death on fathers is still little explored. We do it together with Luigi, father and director, who talks to us about the KOI project.

Prematurity, together with stillbirth represent two real global alarms. Approximately 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely every year. One million of these children do not survive. As an association that offers support and care to the parents of children who have gone too early, we wish to bring all premature babies and all their families to the attention of our country on World Prematurity Day. We want to remember and celebrate not only premature babies who survive NICU and prematurity, but everyone else as well.

November 17th is also dedicated to them, and it is for them that we are working on an important and innovative project with Luigi and Laura.

Luigi is a dad. Samuele’s father. He is 39 years old and lives in Milan. He works as an engineer but is a photographer and video maker by vocation and passion.

Can you tell our readers about your project?

The project is called Koi. It is a short film that deals with the theme of perinatal mourning.

In particular, it is the story of a father who dreams of the future with the child he and his partner are waiting for.

Reality bursts into the dream abruptly when the baby is born too early and does not survive. The father will then find himself in front of his pain and will have to learn to face and process it in his own way.

Where does Koi come from?

It comes from a personal experience. In 2013, in fact, my partner Laura and I had Samuele, a premature baby in the twenty-fourth week of life. Samuele lived for a week.

My passion for the image has allowed me to express my pain and to travel my journey of mourning by first writing a screenplay and then putting a film project into production.

In this last phase there was the meeting with Claudia and Alfredo from CiaoLapo, who allowed me and my partner to transform this idea into a concrete project, contributing to the production with enthusiasm.

I guess Koi has one or more goals. Do you anticipate them?

Initially, for me, writing and scripting was just a means to give free rein to my pain. Now, month after month it has transformed into something bigger. I would say that today it can be a way to give voice to the pain of all fathers who live situations similar to mine, because fathers often do not have a voice.

Koi has become for me and my partner a broader project, through which, with the help of CiaoLapo, we would like to bring to light a theme that our society considers a taboo and that too often remains in the shadows. That of perinatal loss, told through the point of view of the father.

Can I ask the reason for this title?

There is a story that binds me to this choice, a story that I feel very much mine.

Every spring in Japan, a group of carp (Koi in Japanese) gathers in a pond at the foot of a waterfall and rests after having struggled upstream.

Their rest, however, is anything but peaceful, because every year a group of fishermen also arrive at the edge of the pond, and a flock of eagles flies over the waters waiting to deliver the fatal blow to feed on the fish. The few carp that manage to survive these pitfalls try to climb the waterfall in search of salvation. Legend has it that only one of them will succeed in reaching the summit. And that alone will become a dragon.

Every year a group of Koi carp find themselves in that pond at the foot of that waterfall, knowing that certain death awaits them and that only one will be able to become a dragon.

In Japanese culture, the carp is therefore the bravest of fish, because it swims up the waterfalls and accepts the inevitable death with dignity.

Koi therefore represents the desire to face one’s destiny by fighting with courage.

Who or what is Koi to you?

Koi is our son, Samuel, who has traveled his journey to become a dragon.

Koi is this film, which has embarked on its own path and I hope it will become a dragon.

You can support the Koi project with a donation (even a small one !!) on the crowdfounding site Kickstarter, where you will also find all the updated information on the development of the project.

Support the KOI project on Kickstarter

The beginnings of the KOI project:

Good morning, first of all thank you for this forum that you have created. Great support.

I am one of the many fathers who have lived the experience of seeing their child born prematurely, live a few days and unfortunately leave us. I am a photographer / director and starting from this experience I wanted to set up a project: speaking through a short film about the experience, the sensations and the feelings of a father who experiences this pain.

With Luigi and Laura, thanks to Luigi and Laura, we have laid the foundations to tell what perhaps cannot be said, or rather does not want to hear.

After a first contribution in 2015, we also activated one in 2016 dedicated fundraising , to be able to do all the finishing touches: many families have joined, from Italy and also from abroad, and this has allowed us to finish the project, which will soon be able to finally be seen, in a first online special event open to all.

Koi is a splendid job. I say this as a mother with direct experience of perinatal bereavement and mourning in fathers, I say it as a psychotherapist and researcher.

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