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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Basilicata: Terra di Cinema - 2015 Year In Review

“It’s no wonder that the Southern Italian town Matera has been hailed the European Capital of Culture 2019, due to its unmistakable ancient beauty that has inspired art, literature, and film, amongst other things.”  -Ben Taylor, Journalist for Swide

Italian cinema masters Francesco Rosi and Pier Paolo Pasolini immortalized the region of Basilicata in their landmark films that remain today beacons of cinema. Rosi’s 1979 Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli) was adapted from the book by Carlo Levi. The author explained, “The title of the book comes from an expression by the people of 'Gagliano' who say of themselves, 'Christ stopped short of here, at Eboli' which means, in effect, that they feel they have been bypassed by Christianity, by morality, by history itself—that they have somehow been excluded from the full human experience." An intellectual to say the least, Levi grew up in Torino. He was a doctor, writer and visual artist. His anti-fascist beliefs and activism led him to flee the strong Mussolini presence of the North. Despite being openly known as a political exile, Levi was welcomed with open arms by the people of Basilicata. His book, Christ Stopped at Eboli was written about his year of exile living with the gracious people of Basilicata and how they coped with the profound poverty of that time. Rosi’s adaption of the book is a beautiful, heartfelt and tragic film. It’s a portrait of what we consider the “Old Country”- the land our ancestors left in search of a better life when they came to America. Pasolini’s 1964 The Gospel According to St. Matthew, on the other hand is biblical epic about the life of Jesus Christ. The film was mostly shot in the ancient Sassi of Matera and was named last year by the Vatican, “the best work about Jesus in the history of cinema.” Matera is no stranger to biblical epics. Many were shot in the Sassi area, including Mel Gibson’s 2004 “The Passion of the Christ.”

Fast forward to 2015 and the Matera-based Lucana Film Commission saw its busiest year ever. From Hollywood to Cinecittà to local filmmakers, both provinces of the region- Potenza and Matera served as soundstages for film crews creating cinema magic. I’ve been following all the news, so let’s look back at some of the highlights of 2015, the year in which Basilicata shined on big screens literally all over the world.

February kicked of the year with Hollywood crews heading to the Sassi of Matera to shoot the remake of the biblical epic Ben-Hur. The event drew scores of tourists, students and locals alike who flocked to the ancient city of Lucania. For over a month, the stunning Sassi served as a great natural set for yet another epic film. The remake stars Jack Huston in the lead role of Judah Ben-Hur, who survives years of slavery to get revenge on someone who betrayed him, and Morgan Freeman, who described Matera as an “extraordinary city and magical”. Ben-Hur will be in U.S. theaters next summer. 


In March and the beginning of April, Lisbon, Portugal festival goers attending the 8 1/2 Cinema Italiano film festival were treated to a special series in which three films made in Basilicata were featured:  Antonio Andrisani's and Vito Cea's Sassiwood, Rocco Papaleo's Basilicata Coast to Coast and Edoardo Leo's Noi e La Giulia. All films were huge hits and shown to packed theaters. Rocco Papaleo and Lucana Film Commission director Paride Leporace were on hand to discuss filmmaking in the Basilicata region.

In May, all of Matera celebrated as the ancient city was officially named the 2019 Culture Capital of Europe. That same month, Lucano director Giuseppe Marco Albano along with his producers and lifelong friends Angelo Troiano and Sergio Ragone were awarded the highest Italian cinema honor- the David di Donatello for their short film Thriller starring the Pugliese-born actress Anna Ferruzzo and Lucano actor Antonio Gerardi.


June brought Edoardo Leo and his Noi e la Giulia, shot near Matera, to Toronto for Canada’s Italian Contemporary Film Festival. I made the trip to meet Leo and talk about his experience filming in Basilicata. The opening scenes were shot in Rome, with the remainder of the film shot in the countryside of Pomarico, situated in the hills of Matera.


In August, a new documentary made its Italian premiere at the Lucania Film Festival, and the stunning panoramic images alone make it worth seeing. Shot in Matera, the film, appropriately titled, Mater Matera recounts the city's folklore, traditions and culture. From the unique landscape of the Sassi to the local culinary traditions to the festival of Matera's patron saint, Madonna della Bruna.

On September 18th, an event dedicated to the work of author Carlo Levi kicked off a year-long program of events in Aliano, a commune of Matera. Actor/director Michele Placido took the stage in honor of Levi, performing excerpts from several of his works including Cristo si è Fermato a Eboli. Fellow actors Raffaele Nigro and Rocco Brancati shared the stage with Placido along with local theater actors and musicians.

September was a very special month for me because I created my very own tour of Basilicata: Land of Cinema and trekked by car with my amore from coast to coast seeing the actual places in which some of my very favorite films were shot. We started out with Eboli, which is actually located in the region of Campania. Then, we headed through the mountains and winding roads to Maratea where scenes from the brand new web series, While were shot as well as scenes from the James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. It's obvious why the city is called "Pearl of the Tyrrhenian". It is breathtaking. The way the mountains meet the water and then with the statue of Cristo Redentore overlooking the infinite sea, I can't image ever searching for another vacation destination.

After Maratea, we headed to Rionero in Vulture- the birthplace of actor/director Michele Placido and my great grandparents.. so it was fun to catch up with family. While there, we drove over to the neighboring town of Barile and met Daniele Bracuto, president of the local tourist association in Barile- Pro Loco and the movie association Cineforum Pier Paolo Pasolini. He graciously gave us a tour of the Museo della Civiltà Contadina, a beautiful space that pays homage to the past generations of the region. It was a very moving experience because it gave me some insight into how my great grandparents lived before they left for America in 1906.. and then to be there with my cousins made the evening even more special.

Our destination that day was Matera, but we also made a little detour to cruise through Bernalda, home to many talented filmmakers and the family origins of Frances Ford Coppola. I wish that we had more time because I would have loved to explore this beautiful, tranquil town. Then of course, Matera, where luck was on my side when I just happened to be passing through while legendary actor Flavio Bucci was shooting a film with director Antonio Andrisani. The film, “Il Vangelo secondo Mattei” is a take off on Pasolini’s Il Vangelo secondo Matteo which was also shot there. Andrisani tackles the controversial issue of oil drilling in the area and the adverse effects it is having on the region.

I was back in Rome by October and geared up for the Festa del Cinema. October was a huge month for Lucani filmmakers, and the Festa del Cinema brought some great opportunities to learn more about this land of cinema, including a screening of the 1977 documentary Roma a sud di Eboli: Viaggio nel Cinema di Francesco Rosi. I also got the chance to meet some of my closest social media buddies.. in particular the writer/photographer/film producer Sergio Ragone, who introduced me to a couple of very talented filmmakers Luca Curto and Davide Colangelo of Potenza’s stellar production/post production facility, Digital Lighthouse. Unfortunately, I had to return to New York one day before it premiered, but compliments to Rocco Talucci. His documentary film, A.A. professione attrice about the theater and cinema career of actress Adriana Asti, made its premiere on 24 October at the Festa del Cinema. Talucci is from Venosa, located in the province of Potenza. I interviewed him last year when I was working on an article about Claudia Cardinale. He has an affection for the cinema of yesterday and makes beautiful films about the players of those Golden Years. Rounding out October was a great event for the Milan Expo in which Francis Ford Coppola spoke about his roots in Basilicata. Coppola has always been outspoken in his pride for his Basilicata origins. In the 2007 video below, he speaks about the purity and beauty of the region.


November brought the premiere of Nicola Bisceglia's short film, Flipo con La Basilicata. Shot in the province of Potenza, the story centers on a Spanish college student awarded a scholarship in Italy. The short film, which is also the first installment of a series, premiered in Rome and is currently available to watch on YouTube through the film's production company, Vulture Video.

December was the month in which dreams came true for a number of young Lucani filmmakers. The month kicked off with the Potenza premiere of Ivan Polidoro’s La Sorpresa (The Surprise). It was an emotional night for the cast and crew, especially young actor Rocco Fasano who grew up in the region. Then, on the day after Christmas, the first episode of the web series While premiered on YouTube. The project was shot entirely in the region of Basilicata and was a labor of love for the young directors Alexander Maffei and Simone Martone who did just about everything themselves and what they didn't do, recruited friends and friends of friends to give them a hand. The end product is an intense, creative show that makes you wonder what will happen in the following episodes. Rounding out the month was an honor bestowed by "Corto Italiano" on two of Basilicata's most prolific filmmakers Giuseppe Marco Albano and Antonio Andrisani. Their 2012 Nastro D'Argento winner, Stand By Me was named one of the Top 5 short films of the last 5 years.

I've been writing about cinema in Basilicata for more than a decade now, but something was telling me that this was the year to begin an official series of articles, "Basilicata: Terra di Cinema". I'm glad I did because it has given me the amazing experience of truly writing from my heart. I care about each and every one of these filmmakers and I want to see their dreams come true. Although I didn't grow up in that majestic land, I share their pride in having origins in Basilicata. If you think that 2015 was something.. just wait until 2016. I already have some amazing interviews lined up, so I cannot wait to get started! Buon Anno Nuovo.. Evviva #Orgogliolucano!


Directory of Posts


"Stand by me" by Giuseppe Marco Albano Named One of the Top 5 Italian Short Films

Corto Italiano names the Top 5 short films of the last 5 years and Basilicata's Giuseppe Marco Albano and Antonio Andrisani made that list with "Stand by me". Directed by Albano, and starring Andrisani, the film won the Nastro D'Argento in 2012.

The entire Top 5 list..

37°4 S di Adriano Valerio
Margerita di Alessandro Grande
Passing Time di Laura Bispuri
Stand by me di Giuseppe Marco Albano
Tiger boy di Gabriele Mainetti

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Shooting for "Smetto Quando Voglio 2" begins in March


A Smetto Quando Voglio trilogy is currently in the works and shooting for the second installment will get started in Rome this March. The original cast- Edoardo Leo, Valeria Solarino, Paolo Calabresi, Stefano Fresi, Libero De Rienzo, Pietro Sermonti, Lorenzo Lavia and Valerio Aprea -is reportedly returning and some new faces may be joining them.

I credit director Sydney Sibilia and his amazing cast with making the funniest, most clever film I have ever seen. The story recounts a group of professors and scientists who lost their jobs and were forced to find work washing dishes and pumping gas just to make ends meet. Completely fed up, Pietro (Edoardo Leo) comes up with a plan to develop a legal drug that he could sell to club kids looking for a quick high. He enlists the help of his fellow down-on-their-luck geniuses, which include an economist, chemist and anthropologist. The group goes on to make money beyond their wildest dreams. But with the money comes a whole new host of problems. What ensues is a hilarious adventure watching these self-proclaimed ‘nerds’ take on ‘tough-guy’ roles and try to assimilate into the underground world of drugs and corruption. The combination of excellent writing, top-notch acting and a director with a clear vision, make for a contemporary classic comedy that was voted my Open Roads 2014 must-see film.

I cannot wait to see what Sibilia has in store for the next two installments! We will keep you updated as soon as information becomes available.

Update posted by Cineuropa
5 April 2016

“My generation grew up watching film sagas, and I took great delight in imagining what would happen if you used Italian-style comedy, in its most classic form, to make a trilogy”. These were the words of Sydney Sibilia, who has decided to transform the entertaining adventures of the unemployed university researchers of his highly successful debut film, into a trilogy. Filming for the second and third chapters of this new ‘saga comedy’ began this week in Rome; the two films will be filmed together over 16 weeks in Rome, Lagos and Bangkok.

Written by Sydney Sibilia with Francesca Manieri and Luigi Di CapuaI Can Quit Whenever I Want – The Trilogy is a production between Groenlandia and Fandango with Rai Cinema produced by Domenico Procacci and Matteo Rovere. The photography is being handled by Vladan Radovic, the editing by Gianni Vezzosi, the sets by Alessandro Vannucci, the costumes by Patrizia Mazzon, and the sound by Angelo Bonanni.

The first of the two films will hit theatres on 2 February 2017 under the distribution of 01 Distribution.

Monday, December 28, 2015

"20 Years in 20 Films" at the Casa del Cinema in Rome

Penelope Cruz and Sergio Castellitto in "Non ti muovere"

If you’re in Rome, there is a cinema event that is not to be missed. To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the production and distribution company,Medusa, the Casa del Cinema is screening twenty of the greatest Italian and international hits during the recent history of cinema in Italy.  

The film series is already underway. Below is the schedule of the remaining films until the last day on 6 January. All evenings are Double Bills beginning at 4:00PM. 

29 December -  “L’ultimo bacio” by Gabriele Muccino; “Respiro” by Emanuele Crialese 

30 December – “The Dreamers” by Bernardo Bertolucci; “Non ti muovere” by Sergio Castellitto 

1 January – “Quo vadis, baby?” by Gabriele Salvatores; “Match Point” by Woody Allen 

2 January – “Grindhouse” by Quentin Tarantino; “Honor thy Father and thy Mother” by Sidney Lumet 

3 January -  “La doppia ora” by Giuseppe Capotondi; “La prima cosa bella” by Paolo Virzì 

4 January – “Carnage” by Roman Polanski; “Almost Friends” by Olivier Nakache e Éric Toledano 

5 January – “La grande bellezza” by Paolo Sorrentino; “Sole a catinelle” by Gennaro Nunziante 

6 January – “Andiamo a quel paese” by Ficarra e Picone; “Italiano medio” by Maccio Capotonda 

Casa del Cinema
Largo Marcello Mastroianni 1
Through 6 January
Films begin at 4:00PM
Free Admission

Actor Ivan Boragine on Gomorra, Growing up in Napoli and his Love for Theater

Neapolitan actor Ivan Boragine embraces everything that is Napoli. From his pride and passion to his nostalgia and sadness, Napoli is always in his heart. That is why his role in the popular Italian television series Gomorra has been the role of a lifetime. Not only has the worldwide broadcast (64 countries) skyrocketed him to fame, it has given him a way to bring to light the problems and corruption of one generation so that the next could have a better chance. I met with Boragine recently while I was in Rome. I found him to be down-to-earth and honest about the pride and love he has for his culture and also for his art. We spoke a lot about his hometown of Napoli and the impact the Neapolitan theater has had on actors. We also talked about his role in Gomorra and how it fuels his love for acting. 

Boragine got his start in acting a little over a decade ago when he landed a role in a local theater production of the Neapolitan classic, Miseria e Nobilità (Misery and Nobility). Although he was just a teenager, the experience made a big impression on him and ignited his passion for acting. Shortly thereafter, he enrolled in local acting courses at respected theater schools including Teatro Totò, and studied vigorously to perfect his craft. Soon, roles were being offered and he was on his way to pursuing his dream. He appeared in a number of television shows, such as RAI’s Un posto al sole and La squadra.

His life-changing role came as Michele Casillo in Sky Italia’s television series, Gomorra. Launched in 2014, Gomorra is based on the book by Roberto Saviano, a journalist known for his writings about the Neapolitan mafia- and the film, Gomorra directed by Matteo Garrone. Set in Naples, the story follows a cast of characters ranging from gangsters to drug dealers to law enforcement and regular civilians. It is a fast-paced drama with sharp dialogue and intense, action-packed scenes- many not for the faint of heart. Boragine told me that although Gomorra is fiction, it shows a side of Napoli that does exist. This dark side has a grave effect on the youth of the city, many of whom choose a life of crime over a college education. He told me that he cries twice when visiting his city- when he arrives and when he leaves. Boragine has hope for the future of Napoli and that a show like Gomorra will help in some way to turn things around.

During our interview, Boragine spoke about theater and its importance in the whole scheme of art and cinema. He credits the experience of performing on stage to the success of some of Italy’s leading Neapolitan actors like Toni Servillo. He feels that having that foundation of theater and working so closely with an audience give an actor, especially when doing comedy, a unique perspective. The quality he appreciates the most of theater is the freedom of interpreting a character and giving that character a whole host of emotions from one night to the next ranging from laughter to tears.

Boragine’s current project is a theater production in his hometown of Napoli, titled Sottozero - Death and Rebirth of a man in a cage. If you’re in Italy, I recommend going. It’s just a two-night engagement on the 16th and 17th of January at the Teatro Bolivar Napoli. Boragine describes the production as “naked, raw truth”. 

If you have a Regional 2 DVD player, which is easily available through Amazon, you could watch past episodes of Gomorra. Otherwise, Ivan Boragine’s work is pretty tough to find in America.  We’ll let you know as soon as anything becomes available stateside. In the meantime, follow Boragine on social media.. Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Basilicata: Terra di Cinema- 5 Questions for Alexander Maffei – a creator of “While” Webseries


A brand new webseries is about to hit the YouTube airwaves. Shot entirely in the region of Basilicata, While focuses on an 18-year old man who sets out to discover his identity while affected by a mysterious power. It is a 7-episodes-long science-fiction webseries directed by Alexander Maffei and Simone Martone. It premieres December 28, 2015. I asked creator Alexander Maffei to tell me all about this interesting new series, and he responded with an articulate, detailed account of every stage of the project.

What is While about? What is the plot?
While is the first Italian webseries about time travel. It is about the journey through time and space, and also in the mind and in the conscience of an 18-year-old boy who has the ability to travel through time, without being able to change the events he experiences. He decides to find a way to free himself from this condition of imprisonment, and to do so he will have to go to extreme measures.

Maratea
In which locations around Basilicata was it shot?
It was shot in many locations, all in Basilicata, such as the Pollino Range, the Calanchi, the Sassi of Matera, the countryside near Matera and Maratea, the wonderful city by the Tirrenian coast.

Tell me about your journey from the initial idea of writing the script to shooting to where you are today.
Two years ago, we first decided to make an actual TV series, since we were - and are – TV series addicts. What we wanted to do was to show something to the world that was original and made without any budget by following the entire project from the beginning of the pre-production until the end of the development. It has not been easy because we had to be producers, directors and editors. In fact, the work is not finished yet. "While" has not been a flat project: it has evolved incredibly fast. The initial idea was to shoot everything with a smartphone and to be even the actors! Fortunately, the project has changed since that time.

We think we can describe this evolution in four moments:

- First of all, the casting.. We really could not imagine how many people would have been interested in our webseries: we met fantastic people such as Walter Nicoletti (actor and casting supervisor), Loredana Ruggieri (set-costume designer) and all the actors (Nicola Olivieri, Alessandro Venturo, Laura Zaccheo, Brunella Lamacchia, Chiara Zaccaro, Claudio Vicenti and Giuseppe Sole). "While" would not exist without them.

- Second, the moment when the script was finally complete, after one year of hard work, just a week before the start of the production! At the same time, David Cinnella - who studied Directing and Script-Writing at the Academy of Arts University of San Francisco - joined the project. He was already a friend of ours, and decided to help us as the Director of Photography.

- Third, the production, which represented one of the most difficult and exciting experiences of our lives.. It was five months of work with just the two of us organizing it. We worked every day, even throughout school hours to get the best program possible, considering that we did not have paid actors who would be on set whenever we required them to be. We had to work around their and our hobbies, activities and other things.

- Fourth, the editing.. We started editing as soon as we completed the shooting of the scenes of the first episode. It took us about 2 months to get a decent copy of the first episode, but that was considering a long time working on the main title sequence and music. We worked separately on Premiere CC and Sony Vegas (video editing software) and completed everything on Premiere CC.


Basilicata has been referred to as the "Land of Cinema". What are the qualities that make Lucania such a great place to shoot?
Probably because of the extreme variety of landscapes the region offers: within the same area, you can move from mountains to wonderful seasides, to extended hills and desert-like areas, to ghost towns and valleys.



Where and when can we see While?
You will be able to see While on Youtube, Vimeo and about another 30 streaming services online, starting from the 28th of December, when the first episode is coming out. The link to the Youtube channel is www.while.tk, where we have already uploaded the first 2 trailers and 2 behind-the-scenes videos. In the meantime, you can follow all updates on our Facebook page and Twitter page.

Updates

28 December 2015
The first episode is now online- While - Episode 1
27 February
The second episode is now online- While - Episode 2
12 March
The third episode is now online- While - Episode 3

10 April
The fourth episode is now online- While - Episode 4

12 June
The fifth episode is now online- While - Episode 5

14 August
The sixth episode is now online- While - Episode 6

16 November
The seventh episode is now online- While - Episode 7
 

Just Launched: Italian Cinema & Art Today YouTube Channel for Monica Bellucci's "Ville-Marie"

Monica Bellucci and Guy Édoin at the Festa del Cinema in Rome
In an attempt to make it easier to post videos on this blog, I started a YouTube Channel. The very first video I uploaded is a soundbite by Monica Bellucci from the press conference for the Canadian film "Ville-Marie" starring Bellucci. The film premiered in October at the Festa del Cinema in Rome. "Ville-Marie" is the second feature-length film by Guy Édoin, the director of award-winning short films and author of Marécages, screened for Critics’ Week at the Venice International Film Festival. In his new film, the Canadian director tells the story of four problematic characters whose lives cross paths at Ville-Marie, on a dark night in Montréal. Bellucci plays the role of Sophie Bernard, a famous actress reunited with her estranged gay son. The story unfolds after a tragic accident causes the four people to cross paths.

In this video, Bellucci talks about her role and why the director chose her. The role called upon her vocal talents, so she also addresses her talent or lack thereof to sing. The quality of our videos will be better in the future. This was shot unexpectedly on my little 35 mm camera. Bellucci was asked a question in English during the press conference, so I just hit record! I'm looking forward to sharing more videos and film clips with you.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Actor Roberto Ciufoli - Four Decades of Comedy


With Roberto Ciufoli at the 2015 Festa del Cinema in Rome
Born in Rome in 1960, Roberto Ciufoli has earned a reputation as a diverse comedy actor that goes from big screen to small screen to stage. He rose to fame in the late 80’s as a member of the 20-year-long comedy quartet, La Premiata Ditta. The group was made up of two actors and two actresses- Roberto Ciufoli, Pino Insegno, Tiziana Foschi e Francesca Draghetti. La Premiata Ditta became a household name while regularly appearing on a number of television shows including RAI’s Pronto, chi gioca? and Pronto, è la Rai?. Through the 90’s, the group kept up their pace and even made a film titled, L'assassino è quello con le scarpe gialle. Then in 2000, they struck gold with the sitcom, Finché c'è ditta c'è speranza. La Premiata Ditta parted ways in 2006 but reunited on stage for a theater production called, Abbiamo fatto 30...Facciamo 31.


When not appearing on camera or on stage, Ciufoli is the voice of many adored Italian characters. He's done voice-overs for several children's animation shows such as the Italian cartoon, La gabbianella e il gatto and the American films Galline in fuga (Chicken Run) and L'era glaciale 4 - Continenti alla deriva (Ice Age: Continental Drift) plus the Korean cartoon Pucca.

In a 2013 interview for La Prima Pagina, he didn’t have a positive outlook on contemporary Italian cinema, saying that he feels the themes and players are usualy the same and don’t grow. For example, there is still too much focus of themes of organized crime. He feels that Italian filmmakers should move on and write about something else. That was 2 years ago. With the release of two huge films this year that focus on organized crime- Suburra and Non essere cattivo, I doubt his viewpoint has not changed. In 2015, Ciufoli's focus has been on theater with some television appearances here and there including the popular RAI 2 variety show, Stasera tutto è possibile and an interview spot for Nuovo IMAIE during the Festa de Cinema in Rome. From what I could see of 2016, it looks like Ciufoli will continue with his focus on theater. If you’re in Italy and able to attend any of his performances, I’d highly recommend it. His television work is hilarious and most likely, he carries that gift for comic timing over to the stage. To find out about his upcoming stage productions, follow him on Twitter.

Digital Lighthouse: Basilicata's Den of Technology

L to R: the gang from Digital Lighthouse- Sergio Ragone, Luca Curto, Davide Colangelo
While at the Festa del Cinema in Rome this year, I met up with my social media friend and journalist Sergio Ragone. I consider him a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to creativity. He’s an accomplished writer, photographer and film producer, wildly passionate about his work and his Italian region of Basilicata. He introduced me to two of his cinema colleagues Luca Curto and Davide Colangelo. They told me about their work at Potenza’s Digital Lighthouse Studios. After doing some research, I have come to the conclusion that this must be Italy’s best-kept cinema secret. 
 
A production and post-production house, the studios at Digital Lighthouse are at the forefront of technology with digital cinema effects, gaming design, editing, cameras, motion graphics, audio mixing, color correction and just about anything you may need to assist in video or film production. The structure in Potenza houses a sound stage with all the latest technologies available on the market. Run by an English/Italian-speaking staff and highly skilled professionals at the top of their games, the artists at Digital Lighthouse are looking to break into the international market.  

Below is just an example of the technology Digital Lighthouse offers: 

INDUSTRY FIELD & SERVICES 

PRODUCTION
Production & Cinematography • Broadcast television • Surveys, Lidar 3D scans, HQ Pictures • Motion Capture & Camera Tracking • Digital Dailies

POST PRODUCTION
Digital Post-production, Audio Video Editing • Digital Intermediate, Color Correction • 3D VFX, CGI Animation, Character Animation Opening Titles • Digital Effects • Mix Motion Design Broadcast Design & Branding • Virtual reality / augmented / immersive • Direct drive, foley, dubbing, Sound Design & Mix Surround • Ingestion, Conforming, dcp, Cinema Mastering

MULTIMEDIA & NEW MEDIA
Views 3D Scanning Environments, • App Real Time Interactive Software, Videogames • videomapping and 3D Graphics for the Entertainment 

To learn more about their facility, visit them online and take a look at their beautiful 4D video, starring Lucano-born actor Antonio Gerardi, that captures the passion and natural beauty that is Basilicata.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Interview: Daniele Bracuto, President of the Cineforum Pier Paolo Pasolini - on Pasolini in Basilicata


“No other filmmaker from the ‘60’s continues to seem as strikingly contemporary as Pier Paolo Pasolini. His insistence on a cinema of poetry, his candid analysis of the politics of sex, and his search for the spiritual in the everyday make him not only a forerunner of contemporary debates, but also an active participant in those debates.” - Richard Peña, formerly of the Film Society of Lincoln Center 

It’s been four decades since we lost the ingenuity of Pier Paolo Pasolini. A writer, a filmmaker, an artist, an intellectual, Pasolini embraced life and lived it to the fullest. What I appreciate the most about Pasolini’s work is how open it is to interpretation. The evolution of my personal understanding of his work has been underway since 2007 when for the first time ever, I saw a Pasolini film on the big screen. Valerio Mastandrea was in New York City to perform with the production, Accattone in Jazz as part of New York City’s tribute to Pier Paolo Pasolini. "The project started five years ago at a jazz festival. The organizer asked me to read something about Pasolini, to make sort of an adaptation of one of his screenplays. I was very familiar with his film, “Accattone”, so I found the script and created an act. I play all the characters in the movie while the jazz musicians play along. It's really a jazz project full of improvisation.  We have 10 chapters of the movie; the beginning, middle and end.  We perform together and my words become music and their rhythm becomes words."  The performance made a big impression on me and I’ve been hooked on Pasolini ever since.  

I’ve found that reading his poetry in Italian, free of translations has helped me the most in having at least some understanding of what was going on in his mind. He was a complicated person of many layers but above all, when I read his words, I see a realist. His movies, his stories and his poetry are all very real and reflective of the brutalities of life. But he also was a passionate lover of life, so there is always that element of optimism in his work that contrasts the pessimism and reality of the harsh world. Pasolini loved children and he rallied for the poor. His Roman films were often shot in the slums because he wanted to bring that story and that struggle to light. His protagonists in those stories were tortured souls in real-life like Anna Mangani and Totò, perhaps because they didn’t have to reach very far to pull out performances fueled by empathy. But then, that’s my interpretation, my opinion and I’ve learned over this eight years, that anyone moved at all by the work of Pasolini has an opinion about what made him create works like Teorema, Mamma Roma, The Hawks and the Sparrows and Medea.. and that’s the beauty of Pier Paolo Pasolini and what keeps him relevant 40 years after his death. 

Pier Paolo Pasolini and Anna Magnani on the set of Mamma Roma
© Archivio storico Istituto Luce Cinecittà srl
I was fortunate to spend some time in Italy this year during the 40th anniversary of his death. There were dozens of events all over Italy in commemoration. I attended a discussion at the Roman book store Libreria Granai as part of their series, “10 Days of Pasolini”. Several authors and scholars spoke about certain aspects of his life from his love of Rome to his rallying for the poor to his fascination with sex and homosexuality to his filmmaking in Basilicata, where he shot Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew). One discussion I really enjoyed was the presentation of the book, Comizi d’Amore by Mario Desiati e Roberto Ippolito. The book features recollections by Pasolini’s cousin, Graziella Chiarcossi and explores several aspects of his work and personality through an investigation conducted by Pasolini in 1963 on sexuality in Italy.


Graziella Chiarcossi, cousin of Pasolini
During the Festa del Cinema in Rome, Mario Sesti’s documentary film, The Voice of Pasolini was shown at the Nuovo Cinema Aquilla Theater, located in the Pignetto neighborhood where he shot Accattone. It’s a very abstract work that explores Pasolini’s detest for the bourgeoisie, politicians and war. Narrated by actor Toni Servillo, the film is yet another interpretation of Pasolini’s work. Following the film, Sesti moderated a fascinating discussion with Pasolini’s cousin about his personal life and work. 

The event closest to my heart however, was the two days that I spent in Matera where Pasolini shot his 1964 Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew). The ancient Palestine-like stone city where many a biblical epic has been filmed is strikingly beautiful to say the least. Just standing in the center of all that ancient white-washed stone is an experience in itself.. then add the cinema element. Il Vangelo secondo Matteo is about the life of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of St. Matthew. It was named last year by the Vatican as “the best work about Jesus in the history of cinema.” The film stars Spanish actor Enrique Irazoqui with Pasolini’s beloved mother as the older Mary. In a 1969 interview for the New York Times with reporter Guy Flatley, Pasolini described his mother in that role as "extraordinary because when she saw Christ go on the cross, she felt the same pain that she felt when my brother, a partisan, was killed during the war." Pasolini’s long time companion, Ninetto Davoli, who appeared in a number of his films, played a shepherd.

While I was passing through the region on my “Basilicata: Terra di Cinema” tour in September, I caught up with Daniele Bracuto, an expert on all things Pasolini. He is currently the president of the local tourist association in Barile- Pro Loco and the movie association Cineforum Pier Paolo Pasolini that promotes movies and culture in the area of the magnificent Monte Vulture, a now dormant volcano that majestically towers over its surrounding towns. We met at the Museo della Civiltà Contadina, a beautiful space that pays homage to the past generations of the region. It was a very moving experience for me because it gave me some insight into how my great grandparents lived before they left for America in 1906. I asked Bracuto about Pasolini’s time in Matera and his feelings about the region of Basilicata.  

How did Pasolini discover Basilicata as a place to create cinema?
In 1962, Pasolini passed through Basilicata looking for locations for the film The Gospel According to St. Matthew. He had been in Calabria (where he found the actress for the Holy Mary, Margherita Caruso) and on his return back to Rome, made a stop in Matera. He was fascinated by what he saw. He found other locations suited for the film close by, choosing Castel Lagopesole (where he had filmed scenes of the Sanhedrin) and Barile with the Urban Park of the Wine Cellars, where he set the scene for the Annunciation, the Nativity and the massacre of the innocents.

Do you know what qualities of Basilicata attracted Pasolini to the region?
Pasolini was attracted to the purity of the landscapes, the roughness of the structures and the authenticity of the people. In fact, the locations he chose were so fitting, he did not need any other sets. Pasolini chose Basilicata as the Holy Land because he considered it ideal to shoot scenes from the Gospel. 

Tell me about his relationship with Basilicata.. he seemed to really love the region.
The locations in Basilicata were perfect for Pasolini’s film. But I think that he had loved the region so much because the people were very welcoming and he found such wonderful places outside of shooting. 

How did Pasolini impact the region?
Pasolini heard about Basilicata from Luchino Visconti, who shot the movie Rocco and His Brothers a few years earlier. He loved these places because of their authenticity and he loved the people because of their hospitality. Seeing cameras and participating as extras in the film created a real revolution because there was so much misery and poverty during those years. I've heard stories about people of my town, Barile, that participated as extras to earn some money.  

The people of Basilicata still hold in their hearts a great affection and pride for the time Pasolini spent in their region. Pier Paolo Pasolini was violently murdered and most likely suffered greatly in his death. Although Pino Pelosi was arrested for the brutal murder, many doubt that it was him, or if he is guilty, that he acted alone. Whoever his killers.. and whatever their motive.. they were not successful in taking away the impact that Pasolini had and continues to have on the Italian culture and filmmaking throughout the world. Pasolini’s relevance is still very much alive today. His vision and intellect continue to inspire filmmakers, authors, scholars and journalists to write and interpret the timeless body of work he left for us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Director Antonio Andrisani Takes on Petroleum, Basilicata and the Biblical Epic in his New Film “Il Vangelo secondo Mattei”




Update November 16, 2016

It's just been announced that The Gospel According to Mattei has won an award in Moscow for Best Independent comedy... "A work that follows in the tradition of commedia italiana". The film will be released in Italy during the Fall of 2017.

Original Post

The people of Basilicata, referred to as Lucani, possess a number of admirable qualities like strength, integrity and creativity. However, the quality I admire most is their sense of humor. For years, their region has been the subject of unfounded criticism. In one recent article, a Rome-based foreign journalist described the region as “dying mountain towns”. Since Matera was named the 2019 European Capital of Culture just over a year ago, travel agencies throughout the world have designed tours, bringing thousands upon thousands to see the Sassi of Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Throughout the years, Hollywood and Cinecittà have transformed this so-called dying region into movie sets for films like The Passion of the Christ, Ben Hur, 007 and Edoardo Leo’s award-winning Noi e La Giulia. 

Matera
The people of Basilicata have thick skin and they usually just laugh off empty criticism. However, for the past couple years, the Lucani have been facing a serious issue. A 2014 report released by the BP Statistical Review revealed that the region holds the bulk of Italy’s petroleum reserves, and major oil companies are lined up to get their piece of the pie. In many articles that I’ve read, the common thought of the journalist writing from a computer hundreds or thousands of miles away, is that the extraction of petroleum will bring jobs and money to an already “suffering” economy. Well, they’re wrong.


Instead, what’s happening is these drilling sites are interfering with nature-based tourism such as skiing and hiking, and the local gastronomy production of vegetables, cheese, wine and olive oil- therefore doing exactly the opposite of what these journalists are writing since most likely, they have never traveled to the region to see it firsthand. I, however, have been traveling to the region on a regular basis for the past 14 years and every time I am there, I experience a bustling culture with crowded superstores, restaurants, traffic jams, tourists and beautifully maintained historical sites. I always have the same reaction after reading these articles- What are they talking about? Sure, young people leave the region in search of jobs but this occurs everywhere. Young people also leave Italy in search of jobs- including the northern regions of Tuscany, Lombardy and Veneto.. yes the regions which house cities like Florence, Milan and Venice. Perhaps even more serious than the problems created by the coexistence of agricultural farms and intense drilling activity is the fact that much of Basilicata is at risk for intense seismic activity, especially in the territory of the Agri Valley in the Apennines. The area has been under scrutiny since the presence of this extraction process during the last few years. According to a report by the COVA’s – (Oils Centre in Agri Valley), the crude oil extracted from the wells is sent through an oil pipeline to the neighboring Puglia region. All this activity could provoke seismic events in the area. However, that doesn’t seem to be of any concern to officials and biased journalists in favor of the drilling.

Relentless in their displays of opposition to oil drilling in their region, whether it be carefully organized manifestations or writings on social media, the Lucani are not taking the invasion of their land lightly. Enter filmmaker Antonio Andrisani. If there is anyone who embraces all of those aforementioned qualities including creativity and a sense of humor, it is him. Juggling the roles of writer, director and actor, Andrisani has made a career out of the ironies of Basilicata and the naiveties and stereotypes of the outside world. Andrisani’s laugh-out-loud sketches on YouTube have been watched thousands of times over. His latest installment is a mock news story titled, Breaking News: the Prisoner of Rai 1 - a skit about an elderly man trapped inside the preparations for RAI’s live New Year’s Eve show from Matera. 

L to R Pascal Zullino, Antonio Andrisani, Marco Caldoro, me, Flavio Bucci 
Luck was on my side this past September when I received a text message from Riccardo Zinna while traveling through Basilicata. Zinna is a multitalented Neapolitan artist- an actor, musician and painter. I've been writing about his work for years, and met him in Rome in 2013 at an exhibition of his artwork. His text message was to advise me that I just happened to be passing through Matera while he was filming a movie with Flavio Bucci. Since my articles are geared towards contemporary Italian cinema, I only knew Bucci from his part in Paolo Sorrentino’s 2008 Il Divo. But it turns out that he is a veteran theater and screen actor best known for his collaborations on Dario Argento’s 1977 Suspiria and Aldo Lado's 1975 Night Train Murders. I was just so happy for the opportunity to see a film crew in Matera, I jumped at the chance and went on my way to find the café where they had stopped for lunch. When I arrived, much to my surprise, I found Antonio Andrisani, whose work I had also been writing about for years. He is the director of this film. I met Flavio Bucci and sat down with crew members Pascal Zullino, Marco Caldoro and Dino Centonze. Speaking a mix of English and Italian, Flavio Bucci told me about his career in theater, growing up in Italy under Fascist rule and his experience shooting a movie in this beautiful city of Matera, which he described as “living an incredible emotion in a small area of land that has so much history”.


Flavio Bucci - “Il Vangelo secondo Mattei”
Andrisani, Zullino, Caldoro and Centonze all gave me their descriptions and thoughts of the film. Titled, Il Vangelo secondo Mattei, the idea is based on Pasolini’s Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew) which was also shot in Matera. The protagonist of Andrisani’s film is none other than the petroleum with the potential damage of the drilling to the majestic, vast land of Basilicata. In fact, many scenes were shot in the areas of the province of Matera directly affected by the drilling. Although the story is very specific to the region, Andrisani has made a conscious effort not to provincialize the film, rather making it a universal story free of borders that anyone can relate to. The international cast alone gives testament to his effort. Andrisani tenderly pays tribute to Pasolini’s original with a special cameo by the Spanish actor Enrique Irazoqui, who portrayed Jesus Christ.




Il Vangelo secondo Mattei is Andrisani’s first feature-length film. In 2014, he won a Golden Globe for his short film, Sassiwood. The film stars Sergio Rubini and is a satire poking some good-humored fun at the Hollywood film crews that always make their way to Matera to shoot biblical epics. Rubini had a part in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, so he was the perfect protagonist. Speaking in an interview about his experience working on the film, he praised the Lucana Film Commission and the whole cast and crew for their professionalism and filmmaking expertise. 


Check back here for updates on when Il Vangelo secondo Mattei will be released. In the meantime, I recommend heading over to Andrisani’s YouTube channel, Hyperbros.com for a few good laughs.  


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