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Director: Emanuele Crialese
Screenplay: Emanuele Crialese, Vittorio Moroni
Editing: Simona Paggi
Photography: Fabio Cianchetti
Set Design: Paolo Bonfini
Costumes: Eva Coen
Original music score: Franco Piersanti
Run-time: 88 minutes
Italy/France, 2011

Filippo: Filippo Pucillo
Giulietta: Donatella Finocchiaro
Ernesto: Mimmo Cuticchio
Nino: Giuseppe Fiorello
Sara: Timnit T.

The Pucillo family leads its life on a godforsaken little island, slightly larger than a cliff and inhabited by a fistful of people.  The seventy-year-old Ernesto has always lived off his work and fishing:  he doesn’t want to scrap his old fishing-boat and tries to teach the laws of the sea to his twenty-year-old grandson Filippo (who lost his father at sea).  The young man is uncertain between his grandfather’s rigorous lesson and the mild cynicism of his Uncle Nino, who tries to make all he can from the tourism sector.  Filippo lives with his mother Giulietta, who believes there is no future in store for her son and for herself in the place where they are spending their lives:  the woman dreams of the mainland, she pursues a hope for better times.  In this context and following the arrival of a group of illegal immigrants, everything crumbles:  Pucillo’s fishing-boat is seized for having transported (without reporting them) some migrants.  One of them, named Sara and pregnant, is hidden in the garage where Giulietta lives (she has rented her house to tourists for the summer months…)
Although he is certainly not a prolific movie-maker (only three films over the last decade), Emanuele Crialese is certainly an author:  he has a world of his own, recurring themes (the passage from the ancient to the new, the epic of emigrants intertwined with familiar stories, the south seen as a “landscape with ruins” lacking precise geographical coordinates), even recognizable mannerisms (i.e. underwater shots, which in “Respiro” were the metaphor for a yearning for freedom, here the expression of forced cheerfulness compared to the drama of those who have nothing).   Amidst those who emerged in the noughties, this movie-maker of Sicilian origins (but born in Rome) is perhaps the most talented and cultured:  his tutelary deities, especially Rossellini and Visconti, also make their appearance here, under the sign of a magical neorealism where deep feelings (exhausted migrants landing on the water’s edge, solidarity that ultimately links Giulietta and Sara) are alternated to very bitter parts (a very frightened Filippo as he drives some of “the earth’s damned” back into the dark sea waters).  “Terraferma” is accurate in its staging and in the psychology description (the actors prove to be excellent in their roles, especially Donatella Finocchiaro); it is also a political work in the best sense of the term:  the arrogance of power towards the humble stands out with a clarity that does not need to be underlined, at least as much as the certainty that only by uniting as one can they envisage a more decent and fair tomorrow.