First at the Mar del Plata Film Festival and then on theatrical release from December 7, Antonio Piazza
's and Fabio Grassadonia
's Sicilian Ghost Story
is ready to conquer Argentina. Following its world premiere in Cannes as the Opening Film of the Semaine de la critique, the film was sold to 35 territories, including China, Australia, Nordic countries, Brazil, France, and Hong Kong (The Match Factory is in charge of international sales). This chilling black tale inspired by the kidnapping of 13-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo and based on the short story The White Knight
by Marco Mancassola, is continuing its journey in Italy as well, where the film will be screened in schools all over the country until next spring.
This journey through the schools symbolically started from San Giuseppe Jato, where the actual story took place. Bitterly coinciding with the death of mafia boss Totò Riina, two screenings took place on November 20, followed by a visit to the Garden of Memory, established in the area where the last prison of the little Giuseppe was held. Here, on 11 January 1996, reduced to skin and bones after 779 days of imprisonment, the kid was strangled and then melted by acid. San Giuseppe Jato is also the hometown of Giovanni Brusca, the mafia boss responsible for the kidnapping, that was meant to be a revenge against Giuseppe's father, a cooperating witness. According to the film directors, "Sicilian Ghost Story
is an act of love for Giuseppe Di Matteo, and an act of hope for the younger generations, because they are the only ones who can regain the humanity we've lost."
While Antonio Piazza - accompanied by actors Julia Jedlikowska, Gaetano Fernandez
, and Filippo Luna
- remained in Sicily for the screening tour, Fabio Grassadonia was receiving the warm reception of the Mar del Plata audience, together with young actor Lorenzo Curcio
. "I'm glad to present the film in Argentina, the most Italian country in the world after Italy! Antonio and I left Sicily in the mid-1990s because of events such as that recounted in the film. And thanks to this film, we got back to Sicily again." The director went on explaining the interpreting key for the film, something halfway between the fable and the ghost story but based on real facts and trial proceedings: "It's a love story between two teenagers, but behind that there's the death of Giuseppe. Such a horrible fact couldn't be told in other ways, because that's pure horror, there's no redemption, not even for the victim. This story was unconsciously repressed in the Sicilian conscience, the younger generations didn't know anything about it, they didn't remember the name of Giuseppe Di Matteo. We wished to push this ghost out of the dark. At the same time, we wanted to keep distant from the clichés of the usual mafia stories. Then we liked the idea of offering a love story as a gift to this boy who never received love in his life, we wanted to imagine a school friend - because Luna is an invented character - who is ready to endanger her own life for him, against the ipocrisy and silence of an entiry city. We didn't change anything in the historical truth, but love became the key to protect humanity in this wasteland called Sicily."
To whom asks them the reason of an English-language title for the film, Grassadonia replies that they felt the need of putting a distance against the horror of the recounted fact. "English gave us a form of artistic freedom against the reality we were about to depict. And it was meant to be a provocation, because in Italy mafia stories are all told in the same language, while the Anglosaxon narrative is used to play with genres. So we took this freedom that usually seems to be forbidden when you talk about mafia. The choice of an English language can be criticized by adult audiences, but it certainly plays well with younger ones, who have always been our target and are reacting with enthusiasm."