The following post is a translation of this webpage – all credit to the original author Domenico Ottaviano Jr.
1984: Gargano once again becomes a film set. After important features like “Ecce Homo” by Sabel, or “La Legge” by Jules Dassin with a young Lollobrigida, and Gargano’s very own assistant to Federico Fellini, Ferrucio Castronuovo, who was called in direct some scenes for the film “Il Ragazzo di Ebalus”.
The film follows the adventures of a young terrorist, Marco, wanted by the police and by his comrades who want to kill him to silence him forever. Following a robbery in which his girlfriend is killed he decides to flee south, to Puglia. Arriving in Taranto where he tries to leave the country, he’s spotted by the police, and forced to escape into the countryside. He finds shelter in an old trullo, where the aged farmer (played by Riccardo Cucciolla) tries to offer him refuge for a few days.
There he meets a teacher fascinated by his story and fascinated by the youth, played by Saverio Marconi, who offers to hide him with her aunt in Tremiti. And they do. They spend the night there, but are discovered. Marco is forced to turn back and leave the country. He doesn’t succeed, killed by a former terrorist comrade (played by Ann Savoy)
The distinct locations in the film are easy to spot: L’abbazia di Calena, the castle and Rupe di Peschici, the small poritcciolo in the center of Gargano, the litoranea for Vieste.With strong links to the past and Vergil’s Geaorgiche verses, make the story difficult to understand, they’re the conducting thread and connection between the protagonist (the terrorist Marco, undergoing an ideological crisis searching for a way out he’ll never find) and the disinterested old farmer who puts him up. The alternating values within a society in crisis, like those of Italy in the 1980’s, the moral.
Other peculiarities of the film are in the direction. On the poster the director is Giuseppe Schito, for us Ferrucio Castronuovo, a long-time resident of Rome (he was in fact born in Vico del Gargano), where he studied courses in film-making. The idea is certainly Schito’s, who saw the job as a chance to get funding from the region of Puglia, but he isn’t a director and has never worked in that sector. After a few botched shoots, Ferrucio was called in.
“The director of photography was a friend and he called me because the director didn’t know where to begin, and certain it was going to flop he had already paid everyone – explains Catronuovo, interviewed a few years ago by young journalists from Peschici high school – the script had already been written. I went over it again, fixing it as best I could. The film had to be delivered in four weeks so I took to working nights, handling most of the work and, to respect the deadlines, I delivered five minutes of edited footage every day, I was also the screenwriter.
The director “on the poster” (Schito) won numerous awards in Puglia and Salento, as well as the Best Cooperative Film award at the Venice Film Festival in 1984. All the while Ferrucio, who had been kicked off the set on bad terms, remained in the shadows. “The producers made serious mistakes in administration and finance in my regard” – reveals the embittered Ferrucio. – I was given a cheque for 3 million lira and credited as assistant director but the signature was a fake! So I worked and I wasn’t paid. I noticed something wasn’t right straight away and I threatened to take the producer to court who, in response, broke off our working relationship.
“Schito – adds Castronuovo – after all these years he should have the humility to publicly thank the person who made him reach the Venice Film Festival without actually deserving it. The merits of that award are down to my ability as a professional to transform a terrible screenplay by an amateur into a feature film that barely touches the limits of decency. In fact, even I couldn’t work miracles either.”
A truth that perhaps few are aware of today, and which confirms the respect for the director in love with Gargano, from brigantattio and guitar players (?) battente, deserves at least some recognition.