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Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy

Release Year:         2009
Studio:         First Run Features
Format:         Subtitled; NTSC; widescreen
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         1
Running Time:         77 minutes
DVD Release Date:         December 11, 2012
Creators:         Roman Paska
Screenwriters:         Roman Paska, John Turturro
Directors:         Roman Paska
Actors:         John Turturro
E:Top Picks Rating:     8 / 10

First Run Features write-up:
In REHEARSAL FOR A SICILIAN TRAGEDY, actor John Turturro takes audiences on a haunting, intimate journey to his maternal homeland of Sicily. There, while exploring the island’s vanishing traditions, he is taken under the wing of one of the puppet theater’s few remaining practitioners, Mimmo Cuticchio, who instructs him in the distinctively Sicilian art of puppetry.

Filmed during preparations for the Sicilian Day of the Dead, this evocative, magical-realist documentary was directed by Turturro’s longtime collaborator, Roman Paska, himself a world-renowned puppeteer. Both an homage to the art of storytelling and a portrait of a Sicily little known to the outside world, Paska’s film brings viewers to an otherworldly place, lost in time.

Jon Ted Wynne review:
Beautifully shot, evocative, elegiac and eloquent in a subdued way, REHEARSAL FOR A SICILIAN TRAGEDY is John Turturro’s love letter to the land of his roots. Part travelogue, part artistic impression, part documentary and part history lesson, the sum of these parts is a little less interesting than the parts themselves.

Watching the film one might say “what’s the point?” but this is a meaningless question. What’s the point of any art? Turturro’s vision is simply to discover, celebrate and explore his familial and artistic heritage and you either follow him on this journey or you don’t. It is clear he wanted to make this film and you have to admire his laid-back let-things-unfold attitude rather than a desperate gotta-create-some-drama-and-look-good-while-I’m-doing-it approach that is the obvious trap when a star makes a film like this one.

REHEARSAL FOR A SICILIAN TRAGEDY is perhaps a slightly misleading title as it vaguely suggests a Mafioso vengeance killing. Instead it offers a gentle, poetic and deeply personal series of vignettes comprising a loosely-structured, dream-like labour of love for Turturro and director Roman Paska. Too often “labour of love” is an expression used in a condescending manner, suggesting that the “labour” will have limited commercial appeal and is being done solely for self-gratification. While that description may indeed apply here, “labour of love” is nonetheless used by this reviewer respectfully. The film may not be completely successful nor will it appeal to everyone, but when an artist as rightfully revered as John Turturro offers up something so personally relevant, it behooves a thinking audience to watch and listen.