Director: John Turturro
Cast: John Turturro, Max Casella and Lina Sastri
Awards: 2010 Capri Cult Award; 2010 Award of the City of Rome for Best Film
Running Time: 90 minutes
When acclaimed actor-director John Turturro was invited to make a film about Neapolitan music he was intrigued, as an Italian-American who’d grown up with many of the swooning ballads that had become popularized. But when he revisited the place from where these songs had come, and met the artists living there carrying on the tradition, he was completely blown away. Preconceived ideas evaporated and what was meant to be a straight-ahead documentary transformed into a wild fantasia, an adventure into the vibrations of history. In the film’s 23 songs, you can hear the cultures of the city’s many invaders, the Greeks, Arabs, French, Spanish, Normans, and Americans. Eight centuries echo in the aqueducts in “The Song of the Washerwomen.” In “Tammuriata Nera,” WWII is relived as Al Dexter’s twang collides with the primal roar of Peppe Barra. “O Sole Mio” becomes blend of goldenage television performances and the North African vibe, and “Malafemmena” is portrayed for the first time in all its irony, in the context of its very inspiration. The song “Vesuvio” is performed only as it can be by those who live at the foot of the volcano bearing that name. Each song, whether written in protest or superstition, out of love, jealousy, or poverty, is an emotional postcard about what has changed and what has not. As we see, a solitary voice on the street can cause an entire intersection to break out into song. Passione is Turturro’s celebration of a city intensely alive. He has let the film come directly out of the people, the walls that surround them, and the land they inhabit.