Monday, June 7, 2010

Open Roads: Q&A with Paska/Turturro on REHEARSAL FOR A SICILIAN TRAGEDY

At the Q&A following the FSLC Open Roads premiere of the Roman Paska's and John Turturro's new documentary REHEARSAL FOR A SICILIAN TRAGEDY, the two men were in fine form before a very appreciative audience who took to the film like kittens to their mother's milk.  Highlights of the questions and answers appear below.

First out of the box:  How did you come to make this movie? Paska explained that he had been performing puppet shows in Palermo, Sicily, and from there brought back a book for his long-time friend Turturro. "We started talking then about the possibility, just a vague idea, of doing a movie -- as Sicily still has this tradition of puppetry (below). When the opportunity finally arose, we did it."

How much did you plan before-hand, and how much just happened in the editing process, one audience member asked? "The plan for the film was there," the two men told us, "but you still have to see what works -- and what does not."

Doesn't your movie seem to go against the usual mafia thing that we see coming out of Sicily, another person queried? "Not where I come from," said Turturro adamantly.  (His grandmother appears in the old photo, below).  "That's not what I know. What you see in our film is just as true about Sicily as is anything else." (This statement received quite a round of applause from the audience -- clearly appreciating the opportunity to see something about Sicily that was not Mafia-related.)

"Those young girls were fabulous!" noted another audience member, referring to the passel of beautiful adolescents seen in one section of the film. "How many of them did you interview?" The two men compared notes and concluded, "Around fifteen, finally. Turturro mentioned how much fun it was to be in the presence of young girls for a change, since in his own family, there are only boys.

Who made the puppets that we see in the film? "Some are old and inherited. The puppet master Mimmo Cuticchio is also the armor master, and his brother has become a principal sculptor."

What old film is it that that we see in your film, in which Peter Ustinov appears?  The two men told us the name (I girovaghi) and director (Hugo Fregonese) from 1953 -- although, according to the IMDB, the year was '56.

What was the reaction to the film in Italy? "It received a very strong, positive reaction," noted Turturro. "One anti-mafia judge told us that it reminded him of the world he knew as a boy growing up."

What were your favorite parts of the film? Paska demurred: "That's hard to say." Turturro told us that it was initially difficult for him as a performer because he is more used to playing a part, being someone else, rather than playing himself. "So this was not easy for me. It took a while to warm up to it, but I liked working with all the girls."

Does the film have U.S. distribution yet? "No -- but we are looking."

Why set the film in the locale that you did? "We chose to film in places relevant to our theme: Puppetry and its past."

TrustMovies' review of the film appears here (click and scroll down) -- in his complete round-up of films in this terrific annual series.  Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy will screen again Wednesday, June 9, at 6:30.

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