by Federico Barni
Country: UK, Italy
Year: 2023
Duration: 19'

Two mining surveyors roam a Welsh forest in search of an abandoned gold mine. As the tensions between them simmer, an unexpected radio signal from the underground reaches them, luring them into the earth and towards the depths of a sentient ecosystem.


film director

Federico Barni

is an Italian filmmaker based in London. His work is influenced by his studies in cell biology and anthropology at UCL and Imperial College, and by an interest in the outer limits of human experience in extreme circumstances and symbiotic states. His films, including Under the North Sea (2020), and Asha (2021), have participated in international film festivals including DocLisboa, Clermont-Ferrand, London Short Film Festival, Glasgow Short Film Festival and London International Documentary Festival. His experimental work has also been shown in galleries and institutions including the South London Gallery, Cryptic Glasgow, Wilhelm Hack Museum and on platforms such as Nowness and FACT. Federico also has years of experience as an editor of documentary and art films.


Molten Surface (cm, 2018), Ontogeny (cm, 2019), Under the North Sea (cm, 2020), Asha (cm, 2021), Orchard (cm, 2023).


film director

“In 2019, while making a documentary about the deepest working mine and underground laboratory in the UK, I felt like a microbe in the gut of a beast beyond my comprehension, whose thousands of tunnels haven’t seen the sun in millions of years. It was here that I also learned about the ways in which biotechnology and automation are rapidly changing the face of the mining industry. I began to wonder what a mine without miners would look like and what would happen to such places once humans are out of the equation. In such a future, will communication be possible with these living ruins we leave behind? Will they become part of the natural world? Will we be able to learn from and listen to them? And how can the human eye look and be looked at by such a place? To answer these questions, we envisioned a science fictional story in a series of abandoned mines in North Wales, a region where temperate rainforests are constellated by remnants of ancient industries. With Orchard, we wanted to imagine what it would be like to come face to face with an incomprehensible, more-than-human entity that offers us a glimpse of another world, and to capture the awe of those moments when communication with the unknown becomes briefly possible.”


& Credits

DIRECTOR, EDITING, SOUND: Federico Barni. SCREENPLAY: Callum Copley, Federico Barni. CINEMATOGRAPHY: Ailsa Aikoa. PRODUCTION DESIGN: Elena Isolini. COSTUMES: Francesca Prizzon. MUSIC: aircode, Julia Svensson, Federico Barni, Elena Isolini. CAST: Kim Adis, Kathryn O’Reilly, Tomos Morgan, Kenny Fullwood, Derek Newton, Kath Newton. PRODUCERS: Ruth Gibbs, Corrine Amos, Xiaoxuan Zhu. PRODUCTION: Ansible Studio Production. 

CONTACT: Gargantua Film administration@gargantuafilm.it