Review: My Room (2024)

Documentary Competition

In the capital of Italian Umbria region Perugia, “City of the sun” foundation develops housing projects for mentally disabled people by offering them the oportunity to live in rent-free apartments with other people – with or without dissabilities, under the supervision of educational and clinical staff. Popular among students who want to save on costs of living and concentrate on studies, the project is on one hand, a story of sucess, on the other – a challenge for those unprepaired for adjustments to special conditions that come with it.

“You can get along with what you are able to do”, expains one of the initiators of the project- the screenwriter Steffano Rulli whose son Matteo is one of the main protagonists of the documentary My Room directed by Monika Stuhl. He is very specific about the importance of ‘home’ for the integratation of people with dissabilities into normality, by putting them in contact with the real world. As a proof of his firmly stated belief in the cause, we observe the positive effects of the project on the lives of six people with different type of mental dissabilities who share their personal experiences with the helmer by reveiling their new found hopes and talents, hobbies and dreams for the future. It is a trully inspiring and heart-warming story about inclusion and great efforts by an NGO organisation to make a difference in how we percieve dissabilities.

Matteo R, Barbara, Daniel, Lorenzo, Matteo O. and Dagmara are placed in shared flats with young people about their age where they learn how to socialize, and how to share space and thoughts with complete strangers who slowly become their confidants. It is not an easy path for any of them to reach that stage; it takes a lot of adjustements and patience from all sides to get there. Some of the flatmates are very open about it, speaking of problems with certain routines, like finding the shower head to high up in the bathroom day after day, not being able to seize for it, or having someone hectically pacing around the flat repeating seemingly aggressive sentences all over agan.

Likewise, not all participants of the project who were brought to live with students or those with low income feel at ease with the situation. Barbara, as someone very introverted by nature, finds it hard to adjst to it all. But hers is also a success story. Surrounded by patient, loving lot, she slowly comes out of her shell, while still keeping guard towards the film team.

The Austrian helmer is never visible, although very present in conversations with each person appearing in front of Joerg Burger’s lense. There is a strong sense of trust and understanding between her and her protagonists who spill out their deepest thoughts, not always without showing signs of dissaprovement.

My Room is a type of documentary that keeps the interest burning; it shows that when there is a will, things can trully be changed for better.

Country: Austria
Language: Italian
Year: 2024
Runtime: 86′
Director: Monika Stuhl
Cinematography: Joerg Burger
Music: Johannes Konecny
Editing: Hermann Lewetz
Sound: Nora Czamler
Sound Mix: Lenja Gathmann
Colour Correction: Klaus Pamminger
Supported by: Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlicher Dienst und Sport / Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport, Land Niederösterreich
Sales: sixpackfilm