Criterion releases 10 short documentaries by De Seta

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Ten shorts by the Sicilian documentary filmmaker Vittorio De Seta are now  available on The Criterion Channel. The collection was released in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the Film Foundation, an organization founded by Martin Scorcese and dedicated to preserving cinema.

In addition to the films by De Seta, The Criterion Channel is releasing a number of films during the year-long celebration that have been saved and restored thanks to this initiative. Among the Italian films in the first batch of releases are Luchino Visconti’s 1954 “Senso,” Francesco Rosi’s 1962 “Salvatore Giuliano” and 1972 “The Mattei Affair” and Sergio Leone’s 1968 “Once Upon a Time in the West.” Also included is Sicilian-born American director Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night.”

The 10 shorts by Vittorio De Seta are: “The Age of Swordfish” (1954), “Islands of Fire” (1954), “Solfatara” (1954), “Easter in Sicily” (1954). “Sea Countrymen” (1954), “Golden Parable” (1954).”Fishing Boats (1958), “Orgosolo’s Shepherds” (1958), “A Day in Barbagia” (1959) and “The Forgotten” (1959).

De Seta’s work is not for the faint of heart. His films are anthropological in nature and show the authentic struggles of the people of rural Sicily, Sardinia and Calabria. His films are visually stunning and will stay with you.

In 2014, I spoke with contemporary documentary filmmaker Salvo Cuccia about his homage to his Sicilian predecessor. “Détour De Seta” was presented by Cuccia and Scorsese at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival and has earned its share of praise from audiences around the globe.

De Seta was a huge influence on Cuccia, who appreciated the master’s “great depth of vision that is evident in his way of telling a story.” Cuccia was always impressed by the eternal message in De Seta’s images and how he used those compelling images to reveal the stories of workers in the South and how the poor struggled to get through each day. Cuccia considers De Seta, “a great teacher.”

To mark this momentous release, I reached out to Cuccia via Zoom for his thoughts on the series and De Seta’s films. He was articulate and generous in the recollections he shared. We talked about several of the master documentarian’s works including the “The Age of Swordfish,” “Islands of Fire” and “A Day in Barbagia.”

To view the interview on YouTube, click here.

To view the interview on Vimeo, click here.

I highly recommend watching “Détour De Seta” before seeing De Seta’s documentaries. To view it, click here.

To view the De Seta’s documentary shorts, click here.


About Jeannine Guilyard

Jeannine Guilyard is a longtime correspondent for Fra Noi and the Italian-American community newspaper in Rochester, N.Y. She has also contributed to the Italian Tribune of New Jersey, Italian Tribune of Michigan and L'Italo Americano of Southern California. Jeannine wrote and directed the short film "Gelsomina," which was selected for the Screenings Program of the 59th Venice Film Festival, and she won Emmy and Peabody awards as an editor of ABC's "Special Report" following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Jeannine is also a writer and editor for Italian Cinema Today, a publication and blog she founded in 2005 to bridge culture between New York and Italy. Follow her on Instagram at Italianartcinema and on Twitter at @ItaloCinema2day.

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