Jess Bellamy

We are thrilled to have our first guest post from the ever lovely Jess Bellamy!!

I am writing this blog from Verona, because Fresh Ink Australia have very kindly sent me to Italy to see my film Bat Eyes be screened at the Venice Film Festival, as part of the YouTube Your Film Festival.

I’m on a Trenitalia train, and I am not sitting in the same direction as the train is going.

Trenitalia trains are not like City Rail trains, where you can grab a handle,
swing the chair up and over, and move it to face the direction you want.

No. I am stuck facing the city I am leaving, rather than the city I am getting
closer to, and I’m not sure how this is going to go down.

If I vomit on the guy across from me, who’s just trying to eat his crust-free
sandwich and read the newspaper in peace, this will not be a pleasant trip.

So I focus on what’s around me instead.

And I think, what is different about this train to the ones I’ve been travelling on
between Central and Parramatta lately?

But also, what is the same?

I can tell you that the sounds are the same. The same squeaks and sighs
of carriages rubbing against each other as they whirl around corners of
countryside. There’s the same odd silence, for a carriage full of people,
punctuated by occasional flurries of movement when the train stops at a
station and a new bunch of people move around finding seats and settling in
for the journey.

There are a few noticeable differences too. There are multilingual
announcements of train rules and upcoming stops, reflective of the huge
number of tourists and multicultural clientele. Is this multilingualism defined
by tourism, or just more openness to non-Italians? I think about the ride out to
Parramatta; so many different voices, different faces, different stories, and yet
a mono-language for announcements.

Most interesting to me are the beggars, two different women, who walk down
my carriage dropping off dark photocopies of their plea for charity. Again
multilingual, these are printed in English and Italian, and punctuated with a
picture of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. These slips of paper sit untouched on the
edges of each bank of seats, before the beggar returns to collect the papers,
and any returns she might have made.

The same quiet disinterest and disengagement is on display here as a night
of commuting home from the City to Parramatta. No one clocks her presence.
No one’s feathers are ruffled. It is different, and yet also oddly familiar.

But then, in any culture, we can always rely on the freeing presence of the
older woman who doesn’t give a crap. I love these people. She waltzes
onto the carriage, she holds up the line to put her bag away, she trills out
an “arrivederci!” at her friend on the platform, who can’t hear her through the
double-glazed glass. And, my favourite of all her quirks, she unashamedly
checks out the entire carriage, not shying away from her analysis when she
catches our eye. No shame or embarrassment at her interest in us.

Because interest is good. Engagement is good. Alive is good.

If you’d like to read more about her experience in Venice check out it out here.