A film by Jeff Malmberg, Chris Shellen
2017, 91 minutes
No. 098


Once upon a time, villagers in a tiny hill town in Tuscany came up with a remarkable way to confront their issues – they turned their lives into a play. Every summer, their piazza became their stage and residents of all ages played a part – the role of themselves.

Monticchiello’s annual tradition has attracted worldwide attention and kept the town together for 50 years. But with an aging population and a future generation more interested in Facebook than farming, the town’s 50th anniversary performance just might be its last.

Spettacolo tells the story of Teatro Povero di Monticchiello, interweaving episodes from its past with its modern-day process, as the villagers turn a series of devastating blows into a new play about the end of their world.

Official Selection, South by Southwest
Winner, Audience Award, Biografilm Festival
Winner, Special Mention, Biografilm Festival
Official Selection, Hot Docs
Official Selection, AFI Docs

"So poignant and so intelligently told that it feels wrong, almost insulting, to call Spettacolo charming, even if the movie is often delightful... Mr. Malmberg and Ms. Shellen understand the allure of that imaginary world... Yet they remind you that people are not attractions and their homes are not museums, even if the global economy, its casual tourists and rich speculators are determined to prove otherwise." - The New York Times

"Fascinating." - Esquire

"Theater lovers and Italophiles alike should savor Spettacolo... An engaging and wistful look at the tiny Tuscan village of Monticchielo and its longtime tradition of producing 'auto dramas.'" - LA Times

"Beautiful." - Village Voice

"Thoughtful and charming. Stands as a testament to making art in the face of general indifference and worldly decline." - A.V. Club

"Lovely and elegiac." — The Hollywood Reporter

“Enlightening, revelatory, timely and steeped in time… A winning, winsome film. Visually delightful.” – Hyperallergic 

"Highly recommended! A useful tool for approaching a wide range of important contemporary issues from a variety of angles, including globalization, the Great Recession, and social change, not to mention the role of theater (specifically community theater) in the modern world. In other words, it’s hard to imagine a library collection that wouldn’t benefit from the addition of this film." – Educational Media Reviews Online  

"Resonates with profound themes that relate to us all. Spettacolo is spectacular. — Nonfiction Film