On the occasion of the 62nd birthday of Giuseppe Tornatore, the director born in Palermo who won the Oscar with the movie “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” in 1990, through his words we try to understand the reasons that have made Sicily a place of reverie for many artists of the big screen.

Among the many that could be dealt with, there is a mistery concerning Sicily: why does the world of cinema is never tired to tell some story about it? The famous director from Palermo Giuseppe Tornatore, who won an Oscar with a film set on the island, tried to answer this question on the occasion of a Taormina Film Fest a few years ago. The answer, which was only apparently simple, was: “It is a cinematic place”. He would probably not have been more synthetic and clear than that, in the intent to unveil the horizons of a land on which so much has been written and spoken, but which preserves intact the ability to arouse in those who come up with always new and unexpected ideas. And him too, who understands it, he struggles to give a rational explanation of this almost mythical condition in which Sicily is found in the world’s imaginary, to such an extent that the question asked to him in Taormina had been asked years before to the great Leonardo Sciascia, who had motivated the island-cinema union by claiming that “Sicily is a cinema in itself”.

A TANK OF STORIES. And it is, unquestionably. In fact, there is no region (at least of the same geographical size) that has been the main inspiration of so much film production. Sicily is a reservoir of dramatic or comic stories, sometimes even overlapped with that Sicilian taste helping us find an appeal to defuse even the most profound tragedies. Also, Sicily is a well of contradictions, a concentration of events that often come to life in the space of a few square kilometers, a map that leads all those in search of something invaluable treasure to an answer. After all, it is enough to know how to look among the folds of an everyday life made up of dreamers, of the same dreamers who are “forced to imagine what is on the other side of the horizon”, to quote the words that Tornatore has used on other occasions.

SICILY, A SPONTANEOUS STAGE. Therefore, we could define Sicily as a great scene of a spontaneous film or stage, where Sicilians, born and theatrical actors from the gestures that accompany their speeches, fight every day the tragedies of life and the desire to escape, in the hope that to treat them from the bitterness will be the beauty of rebirth. Perhaps what attracts and inspires many directors is the opportunity to probe the human soul and to tell universal stories in a land that on the screen can represent the dynamics of life in which every spectator can meet more than any other place, with its moods and its wonders mixed with sadness. And, if it is true that cinema is inspired by life, then we understand why Sicily is a privileged subject, with its ability to elevate human emotions. Coming back to the interview of the Taormina Film Fest, we could not express ourselves better than Tornatore does, when he states that in Sicily “everything can be done” and that this explains “the Sicilian case” in the world of cinema. We would have to bet that it will remain an unsolved case for a long time and that, until it remains so, it will make Sicily the muse of many artists. All of them will beg her, with the certainty of not remaining empty-handed and of always finding something in which to invest their genius.


Article by Joshua Nicolosi translated into English by Eva Luna Mascolino