Francesco Lama’s ‘I Siciliani’ at BAFTA in London

I Siciliani by Francesco Lama
I Siciliani by Francesco Lama

Yesterday, 13rd September 2016 BAFTA Piccadilly Circus hosted the premiere of I Siciliani, Francesco Lama‘s documentary film. The free screening followed a light lunch at Savini at Criterion Piccadilly  with a showcase of Sicilian typical products represented by Tastaly, one of the sponsors among with Italian Embassy in London and Italian Trade Agency. 

The film, also shown at 62 Taormina Film Fest in June, tells the story of a young unemployed Sicilian man who decides to travel around his region to write about Sicilians. Who really are Sicilians? This is the question that inspires Ignazio’s quest in his wanders through the most unknown villages of Sicily.

In fact, the aim of director was not only to describe his people, the Sicilians, but also to introduce the audience to a different Sicily and its everyday life. The real protagonists are common Sicilians that Ignazio meets day after day, but the young man will also meet some famous Sicilians such as actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta, actors Leo Gullotta and Tony Sperandeo, writers and journalists Pietrangelo Buttafuoco and Ninni Bruschetta.

So who really are the Sicilians? Francesco Lama explains that nobody can really understand them. Being conquered over the centuries by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and Spanish, Sicilians never conquered their own land, yet they despised and mistreated it. Corrupted Sicilian politic and a sense of indifference surround Sicilians and their land.

Despite all the problems the region has been facing for years - among which mafia, that in the film has just a small role and is represented by mafioso Don Ciccu, played by Tony Sperandeo, Sicilians think they are the best. ‘Semu li megghiu!’ (We are the best), is the leitmotiv of the film and there it is not difficult to find out why. Traditions, food, cultural heritage and nature make Sicily the perfect destination for everyone. But Siciliy has not found out yet its touristic potential and for decades has been forcing its people to go abroad in order to find a job and get a better life. Even Maria Grazia Cucinotta (The Postman), stated that she would live forever in her beloved region if she had the opportunity to work there. But unfortunately she does not, as many others.

Despite the negative necessary observations, Francesco Lama wants to end his documentary with a feeling of hope for Sicily and Sicilians. Behind a group of all black-dressed old women walking on a beach, an all white-dressed young girl moves forward holding a 3-month-old baby, the director’s son.

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