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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 in April

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 on April 9 (New York) and 10 (Montclair, NJ)

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 at the Taormina Film Fest in 2016, I Siciliani arrives for a double engagement on April 9th and 10th to NYU’s Casa Zerilli-Marimò  and Montclair State University (Italian Program, Department 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!”

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