By David F. Rooney
Remember Nicola Moruzzi, the young Italian filmmaker who visited Revelstoke three years ago to produce a documentary about the death of great-grandfather, Angelo Conte, in the Connaught Tunnel in 1915?
Well, his film Revelstoke – A Kiss in the Wind will make its North American Premiere on TV Ontario on Wednesday April 5, at 6 pm PT. It will also be available to stream nationally at tvo.org following the broadcast. And he says it will be screened at the Performing Arts Centre on Friday, May 12. Revelstoke – A Kiss in the Wind is produced by Schichera Productions in association with TVO.
Moruzzi’s great-grandfather, Angelo Conte, was killed in 1915 while working on the CPR’s Connaught Tunnel. He was just one of the many Europeans who came here seeking a chance to earn a living and his death in 1915 barely merited a mention in newspapers of the day. Considering that his obscure death occurred in the middle of the First World War when national and international communications were more primitive that today’s, it’s no surprise then that Angelo’s death in the New World remained a mystery until 2013 when Moruzzi discovered 50 letters Angelo had written to his young wife, Anna, while he was in Canada.
In 2014 Moruzzi came to BC to discover what he could about his ancestor’s death in preparation for a film he planned about Angelo Conte. He also initiated a gofundme campaign and eventually secured a partnership with TVO.
“Professionally I was really happy with this project because it was such a challenge,” he said in a Skype interview from his home in Italy
Not only did he have to unravel the mystery of his ancestor’s disappearance but he had to put it in the context of another society — British Columbia — that was still in a state of development and was also at war with Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Turkey. Look at it like this: in 1891 BC had a European population of 25,000. By 1913 it has more than 400,000 European settlers who were all dependent on a boom-and-bust economy whose productivity was cut by 50 per cent after 1914.
“But I’m not a historian — I’m a storyteller,” he said.
That’s true but Moruzzi is also a very skilled storyteller. He uses the people he met during his personal journey of discovery, as well as the official documents related to Angelo’s death and his precious cache of Angelo’s letters send home to his beloved wife to set the social context and personal of Angelo’s life and death. I had access to special website where I could preview his film and I was fascinated by the story and the skill with which Moruzzi tells his story, often times with the assistance of local people such as Cathy English, curator of the Revelstoke Museum & Archives, Doug Mayer of the Revelstoke Model Railway Society, Parks Canada’s Claire Sieber and the late Ron Lind, a former CPR employee who helped Nicola arrange an eerie trip into the Connaught Tunnel where Angelo was killed in a rock fall.
That trip into the five-miles of darkness that is the Connaught Tunnel touched him deeply.
“I felt a very real human connection — like a circle that was broken 100 years ago,” he said. “But now that circle has been healed.”
It certainly has.
Revelstoke – A Kiss in the Wind will make its North American Premiere on TV Ontario on Wednesday April 5, at 6 pm PT. It will also be available to stream nationally at tvo.org following the broadcast. And it will be screened at the Performing Arts Centre on Friday, May 12.
Here are a number of screen grabs from the video that I hope you’ll appreciate:
Please activate the Vimeo player below to watch a trailer for Revelstoke — A Kiss in the Wind: