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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Our Must-See Film of the 33rd Torino Film Festival - Salvo Cuccia's "Lo Scambio"

Today marks Day One of the 33rd Torino Film Festival. This year, festival goers will be treated to a diverse selection of international films on a full array of topics. There are several titles that caught my eye including “Mia madre fa l’attrice” by Mario Balsamo, “Antonia” by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, “Luce mia” by Lucio Viglierchio and “Lo Scambio” by Salvo Cuccia. I haven't seen this films yet but I have seen several of Cuccia’s works and they are all masterpieces, so his is my obvious choice for Must-See film of this year’s Torino Film Festival. The cast includes Filippo Luna, Barbara Tabita, Paolo Briguglia, Maziar Firouzi. The screenplay was co-written by his daughter Federica Cuccia and Marco Alessi.
 
Inspired by true events, “Lo Scambio” takes place in Palermo in 1995. A couple begins an unusual day. She is forty years old and tormented by thoughts of the children she never had; he is a police commissioner dedicated to his job. He has a driver who takes him everywhere, even to interrogate a boy who knew the two victims of a murder. Faces, bodies and situations alternate between the world of the woman, that of a child who has been kidnapped by the mafia and that of the boy under interrogation. Then everything evolves and the situation precipitates, revealing the outlines of a story that will affect them all. In a festival statement, Cuccia said, “I wanted to make a movie about a crime that really happened, but that was more than just the account of a news report of the time. I was interested in exploring the nature of the characters and the situations, in order to bring out a drama that stood on its own feet, above and beyond the actual facts, since the starting elements were very strong and the cause and effect relationships were evident. I also wanted to go in the direction of a dark story, in which the appearances reveal cracks that becoming increasingly evident in a game of disclosures.”“I wanted to make a movie about a crime that really happened, but that was more than just the account of a news report of the time. I was interested in exploring the nature of the characters and the situations, in order to bring out a drama that stood on its own feet, above and beyond the actual facts, since the starting elements were very strong and the cause and effect relationships were evident. I also wanted to go in the direction of a dark story, in which the appearances reveal cracks that becoming increasingly evident in a game of disclosures.”
 

Interviewing Salvo Cuccia in Rochester, New York 2014
Salvo Cuccia

Born in Palermo in 1960, Sicilian director, Salvo Cuccia has emerged as a documentary filmmaker who tells the stories of unique individuals making their mark on the world. Vincenzo Tusa, Vittorio De Seta and Frank Zappa are three men from different walks of life. They each have two things in common.. a passion for their cause and Salvo Cuccia who told their story.
 
Cuccia’s films are visually stunning, honest portraits, which present fascinating stories of people driven by their unbreakable passion. They offer introspections of people and their relationships to the environment and culture. The films, so articulately shot with subjects wildly passionate in their beliefs, transport the viewer directly to the location in which they were made. The music, mostly produced by local musicians intensifies the experience.
 
Among these documentaries is "Oltre Selinunte,"  the story of Vincenzo Tusa, a leader in preserving the cultural heritage of western Sicily. His mission was to save the archaeological site of ancient Selinunte, a Greek city of the 7th Century B.C., from turning into commercial property. Through a series of recounts, archival footage and breathtaking video shot by Cuccia's production team, we learn how Tusa achieved his goal and kept the area a protected archaeological site for future generations to visit and appreciate.



"Détour De Seta" is Cuccia's homage to the great Italian documentary filmmaker, Vittorio De Seta. The film has earned its share of praise from audiences around the globe. Also born in Palermo, De Seta was a huge influence on Cuccia, who appreciated De Seta's "great depth of vision that is evident in his way of telling a story." Cuccia was always impressed by the eternal message in De Seta's images and how he used those beautiful, telling images to reveal the stories of workers in the south and how the poor struggled to get through each day. Cuccia considers De Seta, "a great teacher." Referred to in Italy as the "grandfather of documentary film," De Seta is known for his early documentaries, which focus on the daily life of Italy's poorest workers. They are strong images of real life situations which tell a story without narration. One of his most famous is "Un Giorno in Barbagia," a short film which follows the residents of Orgosolo, Sardinia from dawn to dusk, and we see firsthand how the women assumed many of the responsibilities when the men were away at work. "Détour De Seta" took top honors at the 2005 Genova Film Festival for "Best Documentary Film" and it was also presented by Martin Scorsese at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.

 
On the set of "1982 L'Estate di Frank"
Cuccia's documentary, "1982 L'Estate di Frank" an emotionally-driven story that is special because in a way, it's a tribute to two fathers; Salvo Cuccia's father and Frank Zappa. What began as a very personal tale close to the director's heart, turned out to be a life-changing experience for the children of Frank Zappa. The film recounts a Zappa concert which took place in Palermo during the summer of 1982. Cuccia was on his way to the concert with his father as they drove from the north of Italy. Unfortunately they did not get there in time because the concert ended up being cancelled mid-way through due to a conflict between police and audience members. The film highlights the Summer of '82 and how it was a tumultuous time in Palermo with unprecedented violence among local mafia members. Zappa's children were invited by the director to participate in the filming of the documentary, which retraced their father's footsteps and included a visit to Partinico, the town of Zappa's Italian origins. When town officials got word of the visit, they invited Zappa's children to the Town Hall, where they made them honorary citizens and dedicated a street and classroom to the late singer. Zappa's children went on to meet cousins they never knew existed. "1982 L'Estate di Frank"  is a beautiful portrait of life and the discovery of where it all began for one family. 
 
Cuccia's films are still very active on the film festival circuit, especially "1982 L'Estate di Frank," which is waiting international distribution. Much of his work is available on Youtube, including some interesting video art that he created.  "Oltre Selinunte" is available in its entirety on  www.cultureunplugged.com. There are no subtitles, but the stunning cinematography speaks for itself.  Many of Vittorio De Seta's film are available on Youtube as well, including "Un Giorno in Barbagia"  which is below. 



If you’re attending the Torino Film Festival, “Lo Scambio” will be shown 23-25 November. Click here to see the program and to buy tickets.


 

 
 

 
 

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