A film by Pietro Marcello
2015, 87 minutes
No. 048


Despite death threats from the Mafia and his country’s general apathy, a humble shepherd, Tommaso, takes it upon himself to look after the abandoned Bourbon palace of Carditello, deep in the heart of the ‘Land of Fires.’

One day, Tommaso is seized by a heart attack and dies; but not before making a final wish. He summons a masked character named Pulcinella (a classical character that originated in 17th century Italian theater) to rescue a buffalo calf called Sarchiopone from the forsaken palace. Together, man and beast, embark on a long journey through a lost and beautiful Italy, searching for something which may no longer exist.

Originally conceived as a documentary, director Pietro Marcello had to change course after Tommaso's death halfway through production. The resulting work, shot on expired 16mm stock, is a beautiful, touching ode to the shepherd and his memory, as well as a reflection on the systemic corruption and turmoil plaguing their beloved country.

* Winner, Locarno Film Festival
* Official Selection, Toronto Film Festival
* Official Selection, New Directors / New Films

"Critic's Pick! A loving act of cultural preservation. Contemplates the collision of old customs and values with some of the grimmer facts of modern Italian life, and craftily blends nonfictional and fantastical techniques... Mr. Marcello tells a simple, touching tale that seems to contain a whole cosmos of meaning." – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“Deeply humanist and romantic. Transcendent.” – Blake Williams, Cinema Scope

“A layered, labyrinthine meditation on Italy, failure and the need to continue moving forward even in the face of the impossible.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Lost and Beautiful, which some critics have connected to the lineages of both Pasolini’s neorealism and Italian painting, finds cinematic force in its fanciful telling—from the arresting iconography of Pulcinella’s black carnival mask and white togs, to the use of a reflective voiceover for the buffalo, to the free interpolation of news footage concerning the castle, to the storybook agrarian landscapes…. the film sets its strange fairy tale into motion with bracing and heedless dedication.” – Nic Rapold, Film Comment

“Recalls Agnès Varda’s The Gleaners and I, though, as in Gleaners, the resonances are far beyond the often rural settings and the lovely landscapes they offer.” – Senses of Cinema

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