Salvo Cuccia's documentary Frank Zappa - Summer '82: When Zappa Came to Sicily is an emotionally-driven story, special in the way that it's a tribute to two fathers; 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 summertime of 1982 and the 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.
Frank Zappa - Summer '82: When Zappa Came to Sicily is a beautiful portrait of life and the discovery of where it all began for one family.
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. Born in Palermo, De Seta was a huge influence on Cuccia who was also born there. He appreciates De Seta's "great depth of vision" that he says is evident in the master's way of telling a story." Cuccia was always impressed by the eternal message in De Seta's images and how he used those captivating 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 situations which tell a story without narration. One of his most famous is Un Giorno in Barbagia, a 1958 short film which follows the residents of Orgosolo, Sardinia from dawn to dusk. We see firsthand how the women assumed many of the labor-intense household responsibilities while the men were away in other towns for 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.
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, articulately shot with subjects wildly passionate in their beliefs, transport the viewer through time and space through the mesmerizing images and authentic music, mostly produced by local musicians.
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 recollections, 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.
If you happen to be in Montreal, Cuccia's latest film Lo Scambio (Hidden Identity) will be shown during Canada's Italian Contemporary Film Festival. Click here for more information.
By- Jeannine Guilyard
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