Pizzicata

Italian documentarian Edoardo Winspeare makes his dramatic debut with this 1997 feature about a family in a southern Italian village who illegally shelter an Italian-American flier near the end of World War II. Winspeare grew up in Salentina, the agrarian region in the heel of the Italian boot, and his pastoral vision takes its cues from the area's beguiling and piquant folk music: the film proceeds at a deliberate pace, except for the occasions when the villagers break into the pizzica, a dance of seduction, or grieving women whirl like dervishes in the frenzied tarantata. One of the daughters falls in love with the American though she's been promised to the son of the village's richest landowner, and Winspeare's studied naturalism refreshes the age-old tale of romance and jealousy (the actors are mostly nonprofessionals, and peasants serve as extras). Paolo Carnera's location cinematography is richly detailed, and as in the films of Robert Flaherty, Winspeare's identification with an insular community is romantic and deeply respectful.

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