BASILICATA/Mystery amidst the Sassi

In 2019 it will be the European capital of Culture, but it has already been considered the capital of cinema for some time, frequented by national and international productions to such an extent that, “to film in Matera you have to get in line” says Cinzia Torrini who, in 2016, filmed the Rai Uno drama “Sorelle” amidst the “Sassi”, for ten weeks, between February and March. “We were ‘slotted in’ between “Ben Hur” and “Wonder Woman”.”

Whist Matera has always been a very popular city for big cinema (from Pasolini’s “The Gospel according to Matthew” to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”), in recent years the whole of the Basilicata region has bene t- ted from the significant traffic of movie productions. More precisely, since 2012, the year the Fondazione Lucana Film Commission was born.

In addition to the already mentioned “Ben Hur” and “Wonder Woman”, arriving on our screens soon, distributed by Universal, is “Mary Magdalene”, the biopic starring Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix.
In the last few years Chinese, Indian and Turkish crews have taken it in turns to film in Basilicata and the region has also hosted the sets of many Italian films (“Un paese quasi perfetto”, “Veloce come il Vento” “Noi e la Giulia”), which have enjoyed both public and critical acclaim, giving a boost to the Basilicata terra di Cinema (land of cinema) brand.

“Sorelle” was a small screen triumph, the first Rai Uno drama filmed and set in Matera, directed by Cinzia Torrini, who has also left her mark here: since “Elisa di Rivombrosa” the sets of her dramas have become popular tourist destinations for thousands of fans. This is also happening at the Sassi di Matera.
It is no coincidence, considering the importance of these places for the director, that Torrini completely overturned the initial location of the story that the scriptwriters Ivan Cotroneo and Monica Rametta had set in Northern Italy.
“When I read the screenplay I got a feeling that reminded me of the landscapes of the first Twin Peaks.
And I immediately thought of this town dug out of the tuff rock, overlooking a ravine … an incredibly fascinating place, particularly suitable for setting this mystery, where even the landscape acquires its own significance.
Especially the “Rupe dei Desideri” with its little church: it is like a theater curtain from where you can look out onto the whole of Matera… with this little river owing below and the precipices, as though the earth had wounds.
This is the place that is most visited by viewers of ‘Sorelle’”.

Another Lucan location that is much loved by television is Maratea where various South American telenovelas have been filmed. Maratea also has a film festival, produced by the Film Commission, where producer Nicola Giuliano is a keen and regular guest: “I have been attending right from the start and, apart from the beauty of the place and the exquisite hospitality, I have also had a chance to see how good Paride Leporace and Nicola Timpone have been at raising interest in the festival, especially with regard to audiovisual professionals.
This increase has gone hand in hand with the work carried out by the Film Commission and the consolidation of the cinema sector in the region. Among other things the festival always reserves a space not just for movies that are set in the region, but also for works by young local talents. I, myself, have also produced a black comedy which will be released in March “Metti la nonna in freezer”, with Miriam Leone and Fabio De Luigi, directed by two filmmakers that I discovered on the web and who, by incredible coincidence, are from Matera: Giuseppe Stasi and Giancarlo Fontana.”

In addition to South America and the Middle East, Basilicata also lends itself very well to representing Spain.
This is the case for “Agadah” by Alberto Rondalli, a costume movie based on the novel “The Manuscript found in Saragossa” by Jan Podoski, starring Nahuel Perez Biscayart (“120 beats per minute”) and Pilar Lopez de Ayala.
It tells the story of a young officer traveling across the plateau of the Murge to join his regiment (in fact the lm was also shot in Puglia).
“It is a novel that was written in the 19th century but set between the 17th and 18th centuries so it was a very difficult and ambitious project that cost around € 6 million”, says the deputy producer Rosanna Seregni, who produced the movie for Ra.Mo, the company created by Pino Rabolini, the founder of Pomellato.
“I didn’t know Basilicata very well and discovered that it is very beautiful and many parts of it are still wild… The Film Commission gave us great logistical support and significant assistance in looking for locations because we needed special places with no signs of the modern day. To be specific we filmed at the Masseria Venusio in Matera, in the Parco dei Monaci in Montescaglioso and the Parco delle Chiese Rupestri in Montescaglioso Scalo and hired 12 local professionals, particularly in the set design and catering departments.”

Thanks to the tried and tested collaboration with producer Enzo Sisti, the LFC also recently gave support to the film “7 Miracles of Jesus” that recounts the miracles of Jesus in virtual reality, using the innovative VOLUMETRIC technique.
The film, which will be distributed on the most important digital platforms in the world (Sony, HTC, Ocolus, Google), has a € 1,200,000 budget and, during the 6 days of filming in Matera, generated expenditure of around € 220,000 directly in Basilicata.

In the course of 2018 the LFC’s new Plan includes the launch of a new open call for national and international productions that is currently being defined. Other calls of a smaller entity will be aimed at drama shorts and documentaries.

Nella sezione: Focus on italy