Sicilian Ghost Story
Panorama | Focus on Italy
Fact meets fairy tale in Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza’s second feature, which continues the tradition of such films as Victor Erice’s Spirit of the Beehive and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s 1993 and the island of Sicily is under Mafia control. Thirteen-year-old Giuseppe (Gaetano Fernandez) trudges home through the woods, followed not far behind by his classmate Luna (Julia Jedlikowska), who has a schoolgirl crush on him. The next day, he’s gone—taken by the Mafia.
Based on the real-life kidnapping of Giuseppe Di Matteo, who was held ransom for an unimaginable 779 days with the aim of silencing his informant father, the film revolves around the nascent bond between Giuseppe and Luna, which emerges in alternately ravishing and frightening bursts of Gothic imagery. Lush, shadowy and richly sensorial, the experience feels fuelled by pure emotion—a desire to keep a memory alive in whatever form. Transportive and utterly heartbreaking, it’s a ghost story you won’t forget.
"Superb… evocatively interweave[s] the richness of fairy tales with the obscenity of Mafia control."—Jay Weissberg, Variety
Best Adapted Screenplay, David di Donatello Awards 18