Basilicata Coast to Coast

SCOSSA (Earthquake)

A Small Southern Enterprise



One hundred years ago a devastating earthquake and a subsequent and equally horrific tsunami hit and largely destroyed Messina and Reggio Calabria – the Straits cities.

One hundred thousand dead.

Creating a film to commemorate that terrible disaster meant for us, first and foremost, the negation of any sort of spectacular intention, any pretension of a colossal film, any all-encompassing celebration – we have no affinity for rhetoric.The “Scossa” project began with detailed research into the collective memory of the event, based on reports cited in the papers of the day, diaries, photographs and the stories recounted – even orally from father to son – by the victims, the survivors and the rescuers.From this research was born first a concrete interest, then an initial narrative hypothesis and after that, little by little, the identification of the kind of film that attracted and stimulated us. The “Scossa” project has joined together four, particular, “interpretative views” parlayed into four films by four Italian directors: Ugo Gregoretti, Carlo Lizzani, Francesco Maselli and Nino Russo. Each film (lasting between 15 and 20 minutes each) was created free from any structural or linguistic constraint; thus each is different from the others but all the while connected by a humble yet ambitious intent to interpret, each in its own way, a single particular aspect of the catastrophe. Confronting the data obtained from the initial research but attempting also to compare other data from other catastrophes, other “quakes” inflicted throughout human history, is most certainly ambitious but the indispensable humility comes from being perfectly cognizant of the “size” of the stories – not only the reduced space-time-footage available for each film but above all having chosen to open five purposefully minimal doors to four moments, four micro-cosmos of that devastating “end of the world”. Once the choice was made a second phase of research began, that of the “moment”, the “micro-cosmos”, that each of the directors-authors considered most personally heartfelt, significant and thrilling. Now began an individual quest for data while adhering to a common goal – a quest based on two convictions: first, that this tragedy, as any other historic tragedy, contains three essential phases – the “before”, the “during” and the “after”. This enables the recounting both of the social situation in existence before the event and the terrible day of the catastrophe itself, as well as some of the consequences.  The second conviction was that each story should recount those of human beings that, in the differences of the “moments”, transpose into characters, victims and all of us – greater protagonists for being unknown in official reports. Grounded by these convictions each director was free to create his story based on the documentation and images and tied to the sincerity of his own personal feelings. Thus the four stories, minimalist only at first glance, contain important themes: the Italian emigration of the day, which naturally reflects on the current immigration to Italy of people much poorer than ourselves; the theme of the atrocity of pain, which can fatally bring strangers and even enemies together – a solidarity, enforced by tragedy, which can give birth to new hope and even new forms of human and social aggregation.  The theme of how pure, albeit dramatic, chance can render an occasion surreal, like the magical rescuing apparition of the Russian fleet on the sea. The theme of how human destiny can totally change in the “after”. The theme of how entire swathes of society could be eradicated, cancelled from the context of the two cities – swathes of tradition, of secular humanities, scientific and political culture. And above all, the theme of the human capacity for adventure, fear and rage, man’s predisposition and rebirth – a capacity nobody knows about himself until his first, violent “quake”. The initial project foresaw a sort of frame, a format that would connect each of the four independent stories, but the shape of this frame can only be decided in the final stages of editing when it will be possible to choose its language and its style – a format that would be complementary to the whole ideal, the best suited to act as the narrative “fil rouge”, as the sounding-board to the whole film. “SCOSSA” is all of this.


A project by Giorgio Arlorio, Andrea Frezza, Ugo Gregoretti, Carlo Lizzani, Citto Maselli, Nino Russo. OUT OF COMPETITION at 68th Venice International Film Festival
in collaboration with The Sicily Region – Department of Cultural and Environmental Heritage and Public Education, the SicilyFilmCommission and the Contemporary Cinema and Audiovisual Senses Program.

The film was produced with a contribution from the General Directorate for Cinema and recognized for cultural importance by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities.

Artistic Cast:

Paolo Briguglia
Massimo Ranieri
Amanda Sandrelli
Lucia Sardo
Gianfranco Quero

Technical Cast:

Screenplay: Andrea Frezza, Ugo Gregoretti, Carlo Lizzani, Francesco (Citto) Maselli, Nino Russo coordinamento artistico Giorgio Arlorio

Director of Photography: Felice De Maria, Massimo Intoppa

Art Director: Marco Dentici

Costume Designer: Beatrice Giannini, Lina Nervi Taviani

Editor: Giuseppe Pagano

Sound Editor: Stefano di Fiore

Visual Effect: Gianluca Rizzo, Corrado Rizzo e Paolo Zeccara