Fishermen and Sailors

in 5th International Film Festival Bratislava

by Carlo Gentile

“I prefer the sea. I dont like nets”. Turi the boy protagonist of “L’isola”, directed by Constanza Quatriglio, one of the biggest revelations of the Italian cinema in 2003, produced by the new company Dream Film (Elisa Resegotti and Rean Mazzone) and Rai Cinema. After quite a long list of shorts and documetaries like Anna!, which was shown in Cannes and L’insonnia di Devi, about the painful trials of an Italian family who want to adopt a child from another nation; the young Costanza Quatriglio, she’s 30years old, shot her first feature film with all the experience accumulated as a documentarist who was chosen for the last Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. In the Sicilian island of Favignana, we have Turi, 14 years old and Teresa. They go with their father for the annual tuna fishing season when all the men of the island use a giant net called “l’isola” for “la mattanza”. And who can forget Roberto Rossellini’s “Stromboli” where he shows, with the same cruel realism and violence, that “fisherman’s way”?

Brother and sister seem not to have an age /sexual gap or difference. They go all around the island together, have meetings with fishermen, sailors and with prisoners from the penitentiary who are allowed to work and not be in the cells. Teresa tries to understand why a girl can’t fish like a man and her way of thinking seems like a boy. But, late in the springtime, on the island, new people are coming. And a new girl, older than Teresa, will help her to pass the line of puberty and to create another kind of relationship with her father, her brother and the rest of the small/big world around her. Also Turi will find another destiny, different from what his father was preparing for him.

The Island.The blue of the sea and of the sky, the white of the caves, the color of the land and the rest of the beautiful natural scenario of Favignana makes this story hover between fiction and reality. Costanza Quatriglio has a very light and poetical hand, with long close ups and an essential and meaningful screenplay. She moves the camera inside the island deep into the lives of the protagonists, with a great visual sense. Maybe sometimes the movie is a little too “naturalistic” but not in a bad way. Here nature gets back her role of “Mother” who takes care of us. How to get away from the (un)natural “mattanza” and from the multiplicity of nets. The director uses almost all non professional actors, there is for a “cameo” the neapolitan writer Erri De Luica, and also her real grandmother (Anna Ernandez) with a good result except for a short explanation about the different character of the interpreter. The soundtrack is the work of Paolo Fresu, the note Italian jazz trumpetist, which accompanies the development of the story with a perfect “natural” presence.

Costanza Quatriglio talks also about her childood and about the past and the present of “her” Sicily. We left the protagonist without really knowing what will happen to him and how his life will turn out. But who really knows? L’Isola will be released in France from next January.