|The filming of Ben Hur in Matera, Basilicata|
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.
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.
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.
Val d'Agri, Basilicata- "Petrolio e Appennino Lucano" Photo by Antonio Antolino
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|
|Flavio Bucci - “Il Vangelo secondo Mattei”|
|Sergio Rubini in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"|
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.