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Get Your Feet Planted On "Terrafirma"

On the small island of Linosa, not far from Sicily, fishing has become a dying occupation. Elderly Ernesto (Mimmo Cuticchio) seems to be the only holdout still attempting to make money in that field. When Ernesto’s boat is badly damaged, his son Nino (Giuseppe Fiorello) urges him to sell the boat and start a new life instead of wasting his time in repairing it. But it’s his daughter-in-law Giuletta (Donatella Finocchiaro) who convinces him to sell the boat when she takes charge of their lives, along with that of her son Filippo (Filippo Pucillo), after the three-year anniversary memorial service for her husband’s death at sea.

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Terraferma | Review

  • ioncinema
Solid Ground: Crialese’s Heartfelt Message Movie

In his fourth feature film, Emanuele Crialese tackles issues of immigration and the inhumanity that transpires from man-made laws in Terraferma, a film that just as scrappily begs one to look past the heavy-handed message to be moved at the plight of the individuals it depicts. And, for those sentimentally inclined, those moments may be quite easy to forgive, even if they’re increasingly hard to ignore in its final lead up to the grand finale. Fortunately, there’s a poetic rhythm to the arresting visual compositions that couch on magical realism, and its bittersweet melancholic tone, no matter how bluntly delivered, is still an effectively realized portrait of tenuous humanity.

On Linosa, a small island off the coast of Italy, Filippo (Filippo Pucillo) is the third generation of a family of fishermen, and the industry has slowly dwindled into nothing, leaving his remaining family beleaguered.
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Predictability and Heavy-handed Storytelling in Terraferma

Predictability and Heavy-handed Storytelling in Terraferma
Save them, or let them drown? This is the question facing a fisherman on the tiny Italian island of Linosa, whose waters have become an arrival point for North African refugees seeking asylum. In this subtle-as-a-brick issue picture from director Emanuele Crialese (Respiro), an old fisherman (Mimmo Cuticchio) and his 20-year-old grandson, Filippo (Filippo Pucillo), rescue Sara (Timnit T.), a pregnant Ethiopian woman, and her son from the sea, and sneak them home, where Filippo's mother, Giulia (Donatella Finocchiaro), delivers Sara's baby. From here, Crialese shifts ungracefully between scenes of the locals bickering among themselves, partying tourists ravaging the shoreline, and policemen hauling—in slow motion—weakened refugees off to jail (as the tourists snap pho...
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BFI London Film Festival 2011: 'Terraferma'

  • CineVue
★★☆☆☆ Every European country seems convinced that it is an especial victim of illegal immigration. The UK sees itself as a soft touch, as do Germany and France. For Italy, the geographical proximity to Northern Africa and a long coastline has led to some extremely draconian legislation to deal with the perceived crisis. This is the context of Emanuele Crialese's award-winning film, Terraferma (2011), which screens tonight at the BFI London Film Festival.

Terraferma is an angry and heartfelt denunciation of the situation, but despite a beautiful opening sequence - the camera emerging from underwater scenes to the reality of a fisherman's life - the film sinks beneath its crude characterisations, melodramatic twists and the mawkish simplicity of its own politics. This simplicity is best represented by the Forrest Gump-like Filippo (Filippo Pucillo), who fishes with his noble grandfather Ernesto (Mimmo Cuticchio). Each character stands for something, and so in
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Venice and Toronto 2011. Emanuele Crialese's "Terraferma"

  • MUBI
"Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Emanuele Crialese’s small but powerful new feature, set against the background of the influx of African boat people on the tiny Italian islands of Lampedusa and Linosa, is extra-textual: the fact that Timnit T, who plays an illegal immigrant woman given reluctant refuge by an island family, was one of only five survivors of a boatload of 70 immigrants that washed up on Lampedusa while the director was working on the treatment for the film." Lee Marshall in Screen: "The fact that Terraferma itself makes no mileage out of this is credit to Crialese, but it’s all of a piece with his unfussy approach, which is simply to tell a strong story in a way which, though it occasionally comes across as a little naïf in its liberal simplification of the issue, wins through thanks to a Ken-Loach-like combination of heart-on-sleeve commitment and elegantly succinct dramatic structure.
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25 Alternative 2011 Tiff Picks: Emanuele Crialese's Terraferma

  • ioncinema
#20. Terraferma Director: Emanuele Crialese Cast: Filippo Pucillo, Donatella Finocchiaro, Mimmo Cuticcho, Giuseppe Fiorello, Timnit T. Distributor: Rights Available Buzz: Using a familiar backdrop of his native Sicily (sun-bleached islands plus rhythmic aqua blues) this appears (see trailer) less epic in scope than his 2006 film The Golden Door and less fable like than 2002's Respiro -- but Emanuele Crialese still works with the same obsession: free spirit status of the individual. Perhaps more telling, less romantic and more complex within this format, along with Kaurismäki's Le Havre, this Venice selected title only confirms that immigration migration due to the despairing differences between rich and poor and climate change is more than just a trendy topic. The Gist: Two women, an Island dweller and a foreigner: one dramatically influences the life of the other. But they both share the same desire for a different future, a better life for their children and the dream of the mainland.
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Venice Film Festival 2011 Official Competition: Roman Polanski, Tomas Alfredson, George Clooney

Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, The Ides of March Tomas Alfredson – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy UK, Germany, 127' Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt Andrea ArnoldWuthering Heights UK, 128' Kaya Scodelario, Nichola Burley, Steve Evets, Oliver Milburn Ami Canaan MannTexas Killing Fields USA, 109' Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jeffrey Dean Morgan George Clooney – The Ides Of March [Opening Film] USA, 98' Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood Cristina ComenciniQuando La Notte Italy, 116' Claudia Pandolfi, Filippo Timi, Michela Cescon, Thomas Trabacchi Emanuele CrialeseTerraferma Italy, France, 88' Filippo Pucillo, Donatella Finocchiaro, Giuseppe Fiorello, Claudio Santamaria David CronenbergA Dangerous Method Germany, Canada, 99' Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Vincent Cassel Abel Ferrara – 4:44 Last Day On Earth USA, 82' Willem Dafoe, Shanyn Leigh, Paz de la Huerta, Natasha Lyonne William FriedkinKiller Joe USA, 103' Matthew McConaughey,
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Golden Door

San Francisco International Film Festival

SAN FRANCISCO -- A series of static, poetic tableaux rather than a full-blown cinematic experience, screenwriter-director Emanuele Crialese's "Golden Door" (Nuovomondo) drains the drama and iconography out of an inherently dramatic, iconic story of the voyage of poor Italian immigrants from the old country to the promised land of America at the turn of the 20th century. In the end, Crialese's keen eye for beauty, painterly compositions, appealing whimsical sequences and solid performances from his cast aren't enough to compensate for an absence of narrative oomph that could have sustained interest over the course of the movie.

Although Miramax is behind the marketing, this wafer-thin fable will be lucky to attract even a small art-house audience. The film opens exclusively May 25 in New York and June 1 in Los Angeles.

The story opens with two barefoot men, the sad-eyed, laconic Salvatore (Vincenzo Amato) and his son Angelo (Francesco Casisa), scrambling up a fog-shrouded, rocky hillside in Sicily in search of guidance from their patron saint. This scene, which betrays neither time nor place, along with the sight of peasants traversing the countryside carrying gigantic vegetables, lends an aura of myth to the journey of Salvatore's family. The land of milk and honey is represented here, literally, with immigrants swimming in a sea of white liquid while Nina Simone sings on the soundtrack and piles of coins rain down from trees.

Later, in the cramped quarters aboard ship, Salvatore meets Lucy (an impassive Charlotte Gainsbourg), an enigmatic single woman with a past. She sparks the erotic imagination of the men -- Salvatore promptly proposes -- and arouses suspicion among the women.

A good portion of the film is set within the confines of Ellis Island, where the new arrivals run a humiliating gantlet of invasive physical examinations and pseudo-scientific aptitude tests with a strong whiff of eugenics. Those deemed unfit are promptly deported. Aurora Qattrocchi is wonderful as the proud Fortunata, the indomitable, deeply superstitious matriarch, who knows b.s. when she sees it and doesn't hesitate to point it out. The film could have used more of her fire.

Agnes Godard, responsible for the superb, lyrical cinematography in Claire Denis' "Beau Travail", provides surreal, dreamlike imagery, fog being a prominent metaphor. Unfortunately, Crialese has a weakness for never-ending takes and doesn't develop characters beyond a few broad strokes: Salvatore is simple and kind, and the deaf-mute, Pietro (Filippo Pucillo, whose slouch, floppy hat and blondish curls are reminiscent of Harpo Marx), is smarter than he seems.

The result is an unsatisfying film that makes it difficult to understand what should be at the heart of any immigrant saga: Why these people risked everything and departed for the unknown. Crialese even deprives us and them of a glimpse of Lady Liberty.


Miramax Films

Alexandre Mallet-Guy and Fabrizio Mosca present a Memento Films/Titti Films/Respiro production with Arte France Cinema


Director-screenwriter: Emanuele Crialese

Producer: Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Fabrizio Mosca, Emanuele Crialese

Executive producer: Bernard Bouix, Tommaso Calevi

Director of photography: Agnes Godard

Production designer: Carlos Conti

Music: Antonio Castrignano

Costume designer: Mariano Tufano

Editor: Maryline Monthieux


Lucy: Charlotte Gainsbourg

Salvatore Mancuso: Vincenzo Amato

Fortunata Mancuso: Aurora Quattrocchi

Angelo Mancuso: Francesco Casisa

Pietro Mancuso: Filippo Pucillo

Don Luigi

Vincent Schiavelli

Running time -- 118 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

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