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7 Things You Should Know About the Director of “I Siciliani,” Francesco Lama

Who is Francesco Lama? Let's get to know him better in anticipation of his North American premiere, November 7th & 8th

The director, Francesco Lama

An "instinctive dreamer," a true Sicilian ("While I wrote a scene, I realized that I keep seeing myself in it more and more"), a director that loves his film as if it were his own child ("For this reason, I won't cut any scene, regardless of the comments"): this is Francesco Lama, director of the movie "I Siciliani", that will be shown in November at NYU's Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò and at Montclair State University.

La Voce has shared many stories of Sicilians that have conquered America, and with more than one million people of Sicilian origin in the U.S., it’s no surprise that Sicilian Americans also have a strong presence in the greater New York area. So it goes without saying that the North American premiere of Francesco Lama’s documentary film I Siciliani (The Sicilians) will be in New York.

The director Francesco Lama with actor Maria Grazia Cucinotta

After its debut last year at the Taormina Film Fest, I Siciliani arrives November 7th to New York University’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò and November 8th to Montclair State University (Italian Program, Departmet of Modern Languages and Literatures). Following the screening of the film, both institutions will host a Q&A with the director Francesco Lama and the film’s spokesperson, Maria Grazia Cucinotta. But who is Francesco Lama? A director who wanted to tell us about his people and the soul of Sicily in all its diverse manifestations? This and more! Let’s get to know him as we await the North American premiere. Here are 7 things you should know about him:

1.  His career started in journalism, so to speak…
“When I was young, that is younger than now, I was a free lance journalist, or that’s what you call it nowadays. Twenty-five years ago in Sicily, it was known as “you write a piece, and we’ll decide if we’re going to publish it.” So I wrote three, four articles a day and they didn’t publish a single one, but I’m stubborn so I persisted and got one published. I collaborated on major Sicilian newspapers, and back then, there was no Internet, not even smartphones, just fax machines, and I didn’t even have one, so you can only imagine! But it was a wonderful experience that shaped me.”

2.  He defines himself as a dreamer
“I’m instinctive, also known at times as mad, because if I decide to do something, come hell or high water, I will succeed. My work is complex but beautiful, mine is the work of a ‘dreamer’.”

3.  The English premiere of the docufilm was at BAFTA (British Academy Film and Television Awards)
“In 2016, I experienced the showing of my latest film I Siciliani in London, in the prestigious temple of cinema, BAFTA. I only realized where I was after it was all over, because a journalist made me aware of it: it was a beautiful and moving experience.”

4.  Music is as important as words
“The sound track is an integral part of my work, in which a little bit of Sicily is present, or sometimes even a lot of Sicily. I choose the both the lyrics as well as the music with my musicians, who by now know what I want. The soundtrack is important because it helps to fully understand the movie.”

5.  It’s the film’s beauty that counts, not the film market
“I don’t have a movie idol or a particular movie that I idolize. I like beautiful films, films that leave me with something, and actors or actresses who with their gaze move me, they tell me everything I need to know. Maybe I’m an odd director. I’m not interested in the film market, I don’t do things only to make money, but I do them because at that moment it’s the story I want to tell and I tell it with all my soul. To story-tell, yes, story-telling and dreaming, this is my job.”

The director Francesco Lama

6.  He’s as Sicilian as you get
“I’m Sicilian! With this docufilm I discovered how Sicilian I really am, because as I wrote a scene, or while I edited it, I realized that I keep seeing myself in it more and more. That being said, I tried to tell the stories of my people as they are, warts and all, so there is absolutely no way I can exclude myself, because as a Sicilian, I’ve got lots.”

7.  A movie is like a child: you love it unconditionally, despite the advice
“So many people have commented how beautiful the film is, that it’s touching, that it makes them think. They say: “But why is it two hours long? Couldn’t you cut it by 15 minutes? If you cut some of it, it’ll be a masterpiece!” To this question, I give this same answer once again, as I did the first time: A movie is like a child you love forever, you love under any circumstances and in every way because the love you have for a child is supreme and wonderful. So there it is, for me a movie is the same thing, so I cannot cut it by 15 minutes, and also because it wasn’t my intent to make a masterpiece!”

PLEASE BE ADVISED: the screening of the documentary that was scheduled for November 7th and 8th has, for personal and expected reasons, has been postponed. We will let you know of the rescheduled date and time…

  • James G Romano

    Nessuno rappresenta i siciliani,inutile cercare di ricreare alla Barziniana [Gli Italiani] qualcosa che non si puo` ‘afferrare’. Babbuini,tra tante traduzioni sbagliate o mal scritte [ babbiuni?].Gia` Babbuinu a chi crede cosa si vuol mettere sotto il naso o davanti agli occhi[ di un cieco],cioe` le solite immagini stereotipiche che abbiamo gia` letto e visto da attori e produttori piu` famosi,bravi ma estranei alla inafferabhile realta`.Si,babbuinu a chi crede che Garibaldi fu un eroe e a quelli che fanno finta di saper cosa non sanno,inventando ‘fissarie’ per il publico ‘forestiero’ a tutto. Le radici siciliane son molto piu` complicate,come labirinti senza partenza o fine,entrata od uscita ,specie negli ultimi 156 anni. Un Cancia Mai Nent,.Sulu i Nomi e i ‘Nciuri’.

    • Enza Antenos

      James, grazie del commento. Forse ha ragione…non saprò di sicura perché non sono siciliana. In ogni caso, è un docufilm da non perdere, in modo particolare per ciò che dice qui. Spero potrà approfittarsene del doppio appuntamento o alla Casa Italiana NYU o alla mia università, Montclair State. Buona giornata

    • Enz Ante

      Gentile James Romano, grazie del commento. Forse ha ragione…non saprò di sicura perché non sono siciliana. In ogni caso, è un docufilm da non perdere, in modo particolare in merito a quello che dice qui. Spero potrà approfittarsene del doppio appuntamento o alla Casa Italiana NYU o alla mia università, Montclair State

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