IFF: Terraferma

(Italy, 2012, 88 mins, 35mm)
In Italian with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Filippo Pucillo, Donatella Finocchiaro, Beppe Fiorello, Mimmo Cuticchio, Claudio Santamaria

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A political powder keg sparks intense drama in Emanuele Crialese’s tale of working class Sicilians. On this occasion, Crialese’s protagonist is Ernesto (Mimmo Cuticchio), an old-fashioned fisherman on an island that’s quickly turning into a tourist trap. Happening upon an imperiled boatload of African refugees, he selflessly rescues a handful of passengers and hides them from the authorities. Meanwhile, Ernesto’s daughter-in-law (Donatella Finocchiaro) and grandson (Filippo Pucillo) agonize over the potential repercussions of harboring illegal immigrants until one of them is driven to commit a horrendous crime.

"Crialese is a sentimentalist at heart, but a fine one, and his compassion for the wretched of the earth is thrillingly amped by the movie’s ecstatic imagery. Like his neo-realist forebears before him, the director turns everyday activities and furtive acts — tending to a rotting boat, beating desperate refugees away from a tiny vessel, the tender ablutions of those same refugees on the shore — into a theater of danger, cruelty and sensual delight." Ella Taylor, NPR

"A stirring commentary on our better angels." Gary Goldstein, LA Times