Film Review: Hand Gestures

There’s nothing quite like real craftsmanship. Even with all the technological advances we’ve seen since the industrial revolution some things remain the same. In order to create a sculpture in bronze, it is necessary to take the same steps taken in the fifth century BC for the Riace bronzes. The process behind creating these sculptures is almost an art form in itself. In Francesco Clerici’s documentary Hand Gestures he painstakingly follows the process from wax model to glazed bronze.

The Fonderia Artistica Battaglia in Milan has been producing sculptures in bronze using the technique of lost wax casting since 1913. It is one of the most historic and important artistic foundries still operating today. This process is not taught in school but passed down through oral tradition, watching and learning from artisans. Hand Gestures follows artist Velasco Vitali as he makes one of the company’s famous dog sculptures.

Clerici’s filming of the process is as meticulous and careful as the artistry itself. He occasionally inserts archive footage to compare the foundry to how it was in the 1960s. The creative process and attention to detail is fascinating and it’s really great to see a traditional artistic process still carrying on today. Hand Gestures is a very singular film and one well worth hunting out.

Hand Gestures is out in cinemas on Friday.

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