Mediterraneo Goes Back To Castellorizo

in “Beyond Borders” International Documentary Film Festival, Castellorizo

by Davide Magnisi

Giuseppe Cederna, at Beyond Borders, returned to his island of filmmaking youth to present Mediterraneo.

One of the most anticipated and eagerly awaited events in the eighth edition of Beyond Borders was the return of Mediterraneo (1991) to the island where it was filmed, Castellorizo, called in the film by its Greek name, Megisti. It was a particularly heartfelt screening because Mediterraneo made the beauty of this place known throughout the world, especially after winning an Oscar in 1992. With the sunny grace of Italo Petriccione’s photography and the crackling screenplay by Enzo Monteleone (freely inspired by the novel “Sagapò” by Renzo Biason), Mediterraneo has at its center the favorite theme of much of Gabriele Salvatores’ cinema, the escape towards utopia and, not surprisingly, the film opens with a phrase by Henri Laborit: “In times like these the escape is the only way to stay alive and continue to dream” and ends with the caption “Dedicated to all those who are running away”. No place could welcome this story better than Castellorizo, then, between its blue waters and sunny hills, the ideal port of every dream.

Gabriele Salvatores, in Mediterraneo, pursues another, more authentic life. His return to the Second War World past ends up being a variation on the theme of his 90s films: a group of friends fleeing from the burdens and responsibilities of everyday life. A generational film, it has been said, for those who in those years found themselves alien to political commitment and sought new utopias, crushed by grey realism.

The defeat at the end of the film of one of the protagonists (played by Diego Abatantuono), who returns to the dream island of utopia, is the disappointment induced by contemporary politics that makes the dreamers seem like veterans. Castellorizo ​​​​​​is the exotic space, the metaphorically isolated place at the end of the journey, in which an attempt is made to reconstruct an emotional, sentimental, erotic paradise, made up of camaraderie and goliardic spirit, escaping from the reality of political commitment (in Mediterraneo it is war and fascism). A way to evade the end of innocence, which always appears recoverable in this paradise continually lost and found.

Presenting the film ​​​​was one of the protagonists of Mediterraneo, who remained emotionally linked to this island: Giuseppe Cederna. He held a much-appreciated masterclass which was a great success with the public, in which he told not only anecdotes linked to Mediterraneo, but the sensation of time created by the short circuit between the self-image immortalized by cinema and the transformations—of body and soul—that a person and an actor undergo. With many references to Greek mythology, from Ulysses and the promise of immortality of the nymph Calypso, to Cronos devouring his children, cinema and time found a delightful union in the words of Giuseppe Cederna which fascinated the international audience of Beyond Borders, a festival to which the two directors, Irini Sarioglou and Michel Noll, transmit all their passion and expertise.

Davide Magnisi
Edited by Savina Petkova