Documentary illuminates Sardinian supper for the dead

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A few years ago, we featured a unique collection of videos available on Vimeo that showcase the heritage of Sardinia. Accessible through the Ethnographic Institute of Sardinia’s on-demand platform, “ISRECINEMA,” the collection been updated since then. The collection includes photo essays, documentaries, short works and animated films. The platform contains the institute’s earliest works from the late 1970s as well as the most recent productions, all of which were filmed on the island of Sardinia. Some works have achieved significant acclaim, such as Paolo Zucca’s “The Referee,” which earned the David di Donatello Award for Best Short Film.

One compelling documentary we told you about is “La cena delle anime” (Supper for Dead Souls) by Ignazio Figus, which made its North American premiere in New York at the Margaret Mead Film Festival. The film, a visual exploration of this unique Sardinian tradition, follows the journey of the filmmaker, a Sardinia native, who has made it his life’s work to study the culture of his land. He works with ISRE, using the medium of visual anthropology to report his findings.

According to Figus, the film project was developed as part of research programs carried out by the Regional Higher Ethnographic Institute of Sardinia (ISRE). The connection in Sardinia between food and death is apparent in in the “sa chena de sos mortos” (“the supper of the dead”). On the night between All Soul’s Day (Nov. 1) and All Saints Day (Nov. 2), Sardinian families will prepare a complete meal that includes “sos macarrones de sos mottos” (“the macaroni of the dead”) and other delicacies particularly pleasing to departed loved ones in the hope that they will stop in for a visit. In some towns, they leave a light on in the window to show the souls the way home.

To browse ISRECINEMA’s collection on Vimeo, click here.


About Paul Basile

Paul Basile has been the editor of Fra Noi for a quarter of a century. Over that period, he and his dedicated family of staff members and correspondents have transformed a quaint little community newspaper into a gorgeous glossy magazine that is read and admired across the nation. They also maintain a cluster of national and local websites and are helping other major metropolitan areas launch their own versions of Fra Noi.

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