Filming in Palermo – my memories of Sicily

All reviews of Palermo Shooting

Palermo Shooting (2008, Germany, France, Italy) , IMDb: 6.1

Afisha review of the film

A middle-aged German photographer named Finn (Campino, the leader of Die Toten Hosen) leads a successful, but somewhat soulless life that does not bring him joy. He can’t seem to give up fashion and devote himself to art. One day on the highway he accidentally photographs Death (Hopper), who then starts shooting at him with a bow. Worse, Finn is haunted in a bar by the monochromatic ghost of (God willing) Lou Reed. The hero goes to Sicily to shoot a pregnant Milla Jovovich there, and after working it off, stays in Palermo, where he chases a sheep, falls in the water, meets a beautiful restorer (Mezzogiorno) and talks to her in front of frescoes on distracted topics.

The ending of this film, disastrously dedicated to Bergman and Antonioni, is too good to conceal. Death (or rather a whitewashed Dennis Hopper, after all), having finally met Finn face to face and exchanged a couple of routine pleasantries, moves on to the main thing – digital photography. Digital is bad, says Death. You should shoot only on film! And before that, she quotes Cocteau’s famous line that “Death films death at work,” not with reference to the original, but as if this idea had only just occurred to her, to Death, in her head. This delightful scene is probably worth enduring for the previous hour and a half, the usual late Wenders mix of travelogue, beautifully shot dreams and pretentious chatter. The textured hero rides in a vintage convertible, stands monumentally in swim trunks at the window, or wanders the Sicilian streets with an internal monologue like “How do you know you’re dead? When you don’t dream anymore. Or when all you see is a dream. ” After the restorer shows up (in one self-disclosing scene, he films her while she’s painting him), the chatter sort of degenerates into a dialogue, though it actually flows into two barely overlapping monologues in roughly the same vein. And since the photographer spends half of the film wearing headphones, a full CD collection of good, but vulgar, numbers like “Postcards from Italy” by Beirut or “Mysteries” by Beth Gibbons is played over the screen. Perhaps, though, it’s perfect as a backdrop for a spiritual journey that ends with the conclusion that you shouldn’t abuse photoshop. And how do you know if you’re dead? Just ask the other – alas, it’s too conspicuous.

Best reviews of “Filming in Palermo”

Another film by a tired cult director, whose work, however, has lately caused sometimes heated arguments and sighs of disappointment. For example, as with this film, dedicated to the dialogue between the creative man and death. In the role of the Artist – Campino, who is a musician, in the movies on huge holidays, and this time plays an eminent photographer, who is in demand both for the family album of Mila Jovovich, and for an important Brazilian gallery. But in the role of Death is Dennis Hopper, the guru and demigod of American cinema, who is not afraid of anything. Admittedly, their meeting is the only thing for which it is worth watching the picture. However, that’s not the whole truth either. In fact, the film is incredibly photographic, beautiful and visually superb. Of course, the recipe is simple – Italian cityscapes, a quality cameraman and a savvy director. So, for example, you can sit and enjoy the views of southern Italy, because the aforementioned meeting of the two main figures, in which Death will tell the Painter that digital is a trend and pop, and photoshop is general heresy and obscurantism, will happen closer to the end, But before that Hopper will shoot at Campino with arrows visible only to the latter, and Campino himself will wander idly through the streets of Palermo, listen to pleasant music, meditate on global themes, see visions of various abstraction powers and fall in love with the girl-restorer for some intrigue. It is not the most entertaining spectacle, it should be noted, even against the general background of Wenders’ usual unhurriedness and ostentatious boredom. The basic message is simple. Modern technologies do not help the art in any way, they even impede it. It used to be good, not like now. Plus, of course, the film is frankly dedicated to Bergman and Antonioni, you don’t even have to wait until the end of the picture to see it. References to this are scattered throughout the film and made rather crudely. It’s fascinating that after such rather blatant nostalgic passages, Wenders set out to shoot something exclusively digital. How is that possible?


There’s something strange going on with Wim Wenders. He’s a director in reverse. No wonder that in his old age the classicist has decided to reflect on Death. It’s kind of time to reflect. On the other hand, the older Wim gets, the more youthful films he makes. If at one time “Paris, Texas”, “Alice in the Cities”, “False Movement” were filled with extra-youth wisdom, a desire for philosophical analysis, now Wim is getting younger every year, and whether the reason is that cinema is becoming a more commercial structure, or whether the director has really developed in reverse, he is becoming simpler and more mature. I’m not saying that he’s making stupid films, on the contrary: Wim gradually moves from the private atmosphere of the soul to the truly global themes of national identity in Land of Plenty and Death in The Filming in Palermo. He also benefits from the technical innovations of the film industry. He seems to have used every device available on the budget in “The Shooting” because the picture and the visuals are so beautiful that it takes your breath away.

We can probably assume that Wenders put a part of himself into the role of the photographer Finn, creating an alter ego. The fashion photographer Finn, played by the little-known Campino, acquires glamorous features and, at the same time, alcagonal-hallucinogenic depth. One day, escaping death, he manages to capture her herself, yes, yes, the one with the scythe, with a clever device. Unaware of his action, he asks himself: “Why, having escaped death, do I not feel the joy of life?” and he develops a depressive-paranoid psychosis. There is this feeling, an emptiness within. Finn also sees that his pictures are also empty, and all things are a shell, behind which again is emptiness, a truly Buddhist thought. Finn is also tormented by dreams, and each one is like a little death, a stylish little death, again with deep thanks to Wenders and cameraman Franz Lustig. Where to flee from the intrusive visions and how to find the lost meaning of life, the existence of which is beginning to be doubted? Certainly to where the arrow will fly. After conversing either in his dreams or in reality with the town shepherd, Finn determines for himself the next goal of the Way – Palermo, which translates as “The Mother of Harbors”. That’s also where he drags pregnant model Milla Jovovich. After taking a few pictures, Finn embarks on a psychedelic journey through the city of death, for this is how Wim Wenders showed me Palermo. An old, almost medieval city that’s just about to collapse. No, it’s beautiful, but fuelled by Finn’s visions, it takes on subtly bleak features, becoming as shabby as the sheep that Finn is waiting to photograph. However, there is a gothic charm in both the sheep and Palermo. Probably because of the Mediterranean and Italy. Finn sleeps wherever he can, catches invisible arrows from an unseen stalker now and then, and finally meets the beautiful artist Flavia, who also once faced death. After examining the stalker in a random shot, Finn makes a desperate attempt to catch Death himself.

“Filming in Palermo” was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. The film’s original title is a play on the words “shooting and shooting,” which is equally present in the film. As always, Wenders is conceptual and lucid. He almost chews up the meaning of his creation, as if afraid that we won’t understand it. The film is dedicated to Bergman and Antonioni, as evidenced by the Palermo landscapes in his interpretation, reminiscent of Antonioni’s Italy in “Adventure”. As a fan of Wim Wenders’ early period, I give “Filming in Palermo” eight points for its stunning plans, original idea and charming Death. I think the ever-younger Wim earned it by sharing his fears with the world.

Filming in Palermo – my memories of Sicily

What to see to immerse yourself in the history of Sicily, get to know its way of life, get into the spirit? There are many films made in Sicily. I have traditionally chosen the most worthy of your attention. For the picture to be as multifaceted as possible, I tried to include both historical and contemporary films, covering different topics and problems.


Relax, open a bottle of wine, forget everything that happens in the world and visit the sun-drenched vineyards, volcanoes, cities and seas of Sicily. They are full not only of aromas of ripe grapes, sweet oranges and bitter lemons, sun-dried rocks and refreshing breezes, but also of romantic stories, funny and sometimes not so funny stories about your favorite job, life, war, the Mafia or just a good mood.

1. Sparrow/Storia di una capinera

Franco Zeffirelli, 1993.

A very tender, romantic story of a young nun who experiences true love for the first time. The action takes place in Catania. 1845. Cholera is raging in the city. The abbot of the convent decides to send the novices home for safety. Among them is a 16-year-old novice, Maria. When she arrives home, she falls in love with a fellow student, Nino. The film was filmed in Catania and around the volcano Etna.

2. The Postman/Il Postino

Michael Redford 1994

A touching drama about the delicate friendship between the communist poet Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret) and the local letter carrier Mario Ruppolo (Massimo Troisi), who was exiled from Chile and found his temporary shelter on a small Italian island. The film won an Oscar for Best Score and four others, including Best Film. It was filmed on the island of Salina in the Aeolian archipelago.

3. Adventure/L’Avventura.

Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960.

Laughs and Whistles: the first screening of Avventura (1960) at the Cannes Film Festival was met with dissent and disappointment, and the film later established itself as one of the best Italian cinematic works ever made. The plot is based on the mysterious disappearance of a beautiful and wealthy girl on a desert island and her search by her lover and friend. The geography of the search is vast: the Liparian Islands (Lipari, Basiluzzo, Panarea), Bagheria, Milazzo, Cefalù, Messina, Noto, Siracusa, Taormina.

4. Stromboli, Land of God/Stromboli – Terra di Dio

Roberto Rossellini, 1950

In 1949 Stromboli became the hero of one of the first paintings of Italian neo-realism. Roberto Rossellini was the founder of this movement. The Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, who was not yet world famous, played the leading role in the film. And her partner was a layman – a local man Mario Vitale, who was initially admitted to the film team as an ordinary … loader!

In the story, a young Russian woman, in order to avoid being imprisoned in a concentration camp, marries a fisherman from the island. The unhappy marriage pushes the girl to run away shortly before giving birth. At the same time, Stromboli awakens. The film won a Silver Ribbon Award.

5. Leopard/Il gattopardo

Luchino Visconti, 1963

A historical epic film that vividly depicts a vivid picture of Sicily with all of its historical and political problems. It is set against the backdrop of a civil war between the Republicans – the supporters of Garibaldi – and the supporters of the Bourbon dynasty. The picture is recognized as one of the pinnacles of world cinema and was awarded the “Golden Palm” at the Cannes Film Festival in 1963. Filming took place in Palermo and its suburbs.

6. Palermo Shooting

Wim Wenders, 2008

Life and Death in the Beautiful Palermo. This film is dedicated to the two great filmmakers Bergman and Antonioni, who died on the same day, July 30, 2007, while filming.

The mystical drama is about a very successful photographer, Finn (Campino), who lives a vivid but somewhat confused life. The guy can’t imagine his existence without constant partying and temporary relationships. He never sleeps, his cell phone constantly ringing. And the music he listens to on his headphones is practically his only and loyal companion, helping him to distance himself from the rest of the world.

So one day the young man goes to Palermo for a few hours, unaware of how abruptly his life will change. Suddenly the architectural compositions begin to come to life, and wish to kill the creator. The photographer finds himself in a different reality. And only thanks to chance and lucky meetings: with a girl played by Giovanna Mezzogiorno, and with Death – Dennis Hopper, the photographer manages to get out of the situation, revise his life and look reality in the face.

7. Malena/Malena.

Giuseppe Tornatore, 2000.

The inimitable Monica Bellucci in a beautiful drama based on the story of the same name by Luciano Vincenzoli. The action is set in a small provincial town during World War II. Malena’s beauty leaves no one indifferent: neither gossipy neighbors, nor snot-nosed boys, nor gray-haired elderly gentlemen. It was filmed on the picturesque island of Ortigia in Syracuse.


8. The Great Aphrodite/La dea dell’amore

Woody Allen, 1995.

A fun film that, like all Allen films, is never boring. Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love! It is because of her influence that Lenny (Woody Allen), married to the beautiful Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter), decides to learn more about the real mother of little Max, adopted several years earlier. The boy shows amazing abilities already at an early age. However, Goddess of Love, created by Woody Allen himself, begins not in Manhattan, where the couple lives and works, but in Italy, in the Greek theater of Taormina. The comedy won a Golden Globe and an Oscar.

9. Divorce Italian/Divorzio all’italiana

Pietro Germi, 1962

An exceptionally delightful story. An icon and a source of inspiration for future generations, it vividly illustrates how people lived at that time.

The story itself tells the story of the Baron of Cefalù, a decent family man who, after falling in love with his cousin, develops a diabolical plan to kill his wife, since divorce is virtually impossible in Italy. It was filmed in a small town in southern Sicily, Ispica.

10. Volcano/Vulcano

William Dieterle, 1950

A sad and tragic story of the plight of a woman, Maddalena, a former courtesan exiled from Naples to her native island of Vulcano. At home she is warmly welcomed only by her sister Maria. Their harmonious life is disturbed by the attention of Donato, a diver, with whom Maria falls in love. Maddalena disapproves of this relationship and senses the dirty thoughts of the suitor. To protect her sister, Maddalena goes to extreme measures. The film was filmed on the Aeolian Islands (Isla Vulcano and Isla Salina) at the same time as Roberto Rossellini’s Stromboli, Land of God.

11. Handsome Antonio/Il bell’Antonio

Mauro Bolognini, 1960

A wonderful film for all fans of black and white Italian cinema of the 1960s. The 30-year-old Antonio is an enviable fiancé, adored by all the women. His father made a lucky investment in a huge orange grove, the young man is favored by the powers that be, his friends already start asking him for support, and the word of mouth attributes to Antonio numerous victories on the love front. But as soon as Antonio agrees to marry a couple worthy of him, the beautiful Barbara (Claudia Cardinale), it turns out that the sweet fruit has a wormhole. The film is set in Catania.

12. The Earth trembles/La terra trema

Luchino Visconti, 1948.

One of the masterpieces of Italian cinema. The story of a family of Sicilian fishermen living in the small town of Achi Trezza. Trying to buy a boat in the hope of starting their own business, they lose their house and fall into despair.

13. Secret Trip/Viaggio segreto

Roberto Ando, 2006

Leo, a 40-year-old psychoanalyst, has spent his entire life treating other people. But after his own wedding is thwarted, it becomes clear that he himself is not all right. The same problems seem to be plaguing Leo’s own sister. Apparently, it’s time to return to the ancestral homeland and unravel the old family mystery that led the brother and sister to flee Sicily 25 years ago. The shooting took place in the countryside around Syracuse.

14. Sicilian/Il Siciliano.

Michael Cimino, 1987

The story of the bandit Salvatore Giuliano, who emerged after the war as the Sicilian Robin Hood. Giuliano, an honorable bandit who miraculously escaped a firing squad, pursues his dream of giving land to the peasants and achieving the independence of Sicily by transforming it into an American state. But a Mafia leader takes him under his wing and involves him in a crime that turns the whole country against him.

15. The Godfather/Il Padrino

Francis Ford Coppola, 1972

This masterpiece probably needs no introduction. Three small villages in the province of Messina were chosen for the film’s scenes: Forza d’Agro, Savoca and Motta Camastra. By the way, for those who want to walk on the places of filming, try the original granita in the same bar “Vitelli”, where Michael Corleone asked Apollonia Vitelli for his hand, we organize excursions .

16. Countryman/Paisa.

Roberto Rossellini, 1946.


The film depicts the Italian campaign of World War II and the difficulty of communicating between people who speak different languages and belong to different cultures. The film consists of six episodes. The first one is about the landing of Anglo-American troops in Sicily. The film received 1 Oscar nomination, won 3 silver ribbons and was awarded at the Venice Film Festival.

17. The owl appears in the afternoon/Il giorno della civetta

Damiano Damiani, 1968

A film based on a novel by one of Sicily’s greatest writers, Leonardo Chasz, is not to be missed. The action takes place in a small Sicilian town. A police captain, investigating the murder of Salvadore, the head of a construction company, finds that everyone he interrogates doesn’t want to say anything. However, they send an anonymous letter to the police telling them the reason for Salvadore’s murder. The letter was written by several people, each one line at a time, so that it would be difficult to trace who wrote it. It becomes clear to the police captain that people are afraid of someone. That someone may be the killer. The film was filmed between Partinico and Palermo.

18. Journey to the Center of the Earth/Viaggio al centro della terra

Henry Levin, 1959

This is undoubtedly the best film, based on Jules Verne’s famous novel, and infinitely superior to the relatively recent 3D version. This film features special effects that should have been sensational in 1959. For good reason, the film is still a pleasure to watch. An active role in the film is played by the formidable Stromboli, through whose volcanic canal Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel returned from their subterranean wanderings.

19. One hundred steps/I cento passi

Marco Tullio Giordana, 2000.

The story takes place in the ’60s, in the small town of Cinisi in the province of Palermo, the hometown of the Impastato family. Here, as throughout Sicily, the Mafia dominates and controls daily life, as well as the contracts for the airport of Punta Raisi, the drug trade.

A hundred steps is the distance between Impastato’s house and that of Mafia boss Gaetano Badalamenti. In his film, Marco Tullio Giordana tells the story of Peppino Impastato’s courage and determination to resist the yoke of the Mafia.

20. New Cinema Paradiso

Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988.

One of the best Italian films of the 1987/1988 season. Salvatore Di Vita, a famous director from Rome, returns after 40 years to his Sicilian hometown for the funeral of the film mechanic Alfredo, who taught him to love movies. Remembering the past helps him rethink the present.

Filming took place in several Sicilian towns: Bagheria, Cefalù and Castelbuono. Although, in fact, the cinema does not exist and was made specifically for the filming.

21. Viva l’Italia!

Roberto Rossellini, 1961

The film tells the story of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the national hero of Italy, who, in 1860, led his famous thousand “Red Robes” volunteers on a military campaign to Sicily and Naples to unify Italy. Filmed in Palermo and Calatafimi.

22. Baaria/Baaria.

Giuseppe Tornatore, 2009.

Through the events of three generations of a family from Bagheria (Tornatore’s hometown), the film tells the story of a century of Italian history with world wars and the changing political scene of Fascism, Communism, Christian Democracy and Socialism. The film has won many awards and grossed 10.6 million euros at the box office in Italy.

23. They’re all right/Stanno tutti bene

Giuseppe Tornatore, 1990.

The film is about a retired man who leaves Sicily to visit his children, whom he is very proud of because he thinks they are all arranged the way he always wanted them to be. During his journey, he realizes that he is completely unaware of his children, already grown men and women, but whom he still sees as children. The first scenes were filmed on a small beach in Makari.

24. Giovanni Falcone

Giuseppe Ferrara, 1993.

The film was made on a hot and hot basis. On May 23, 1992, on the road to Palermo, at the corner of Capachi, the famous anti-mafia fighter, Magistrate Giovanni Falcone, was blown up. Two months later, his friend and colleague Paolo Borsellino was killed by a bomb. Today, the Palermo airport is named after them.

On October 28, 1993, Italians saw the premiere of a film about the last ten years of Giovanni Falcone’s life and work. Perhaps if the film had been shot today, the authors would have had much more to tell. Filming took place in Palermo and the province.


25. Events at the Bronte/Bronte.

Florestano Vancini, 1972

A chronicle of a massacre that the history books don’t tell you about. Sicily, 1860. While the liberal jurist Nicola Lombardo is planning an agrarian reform while waiting for Garibaldi, a violent popular uprising breaks out in Brontë, a town near Catania. 150 people are arrested, tried and shot by order of General Nino Bixio.

26. Mainland/Terraferma

Emanuele Crialese, 2011.

A profound film, filled with poignant and poignant meanings for Sicily, and for all of Europe. Behind the story of a small island, too small to be marked on a map, and which was once an island of fishermen, there is much more. It becomes a crossroads for desperate people who emigrate from the shores of Africa on dilapidated boats and a center for tourism that changes its economy. The film was shot on the island of Linosa.

27. Seduced and Abandoned/Sedotta e addandonata

Pietro Germi, 1964

A caustic and cynical satire of the bigoted and “noble” Sicily of Germy’s time, a part of which still exists today. A time when a girl’s honor was of the utmost importance and girls were no more than ornaments. The heroine of the film, Agnese, a respectable townswoman, succumbed to the advances of her older sister’s fiancé, Peppino, and became pregnant. He, of course, ran away. So that Agnese, seduced and abandoned, was not left alone and with a belly, his father organized a hunt for the offender. The shooting took place in the town of Shakka.

28. Traitor/Il Traditore

Marco Bellocchio, 2019.

Italy’s most important film about how the country finally managed to defeat the very octopus that Commissioner Cattani valiantly fought. This is the true story of how one man was able to drag a huge organization to the bottom – Buscetta’s testimony led to the arrest of almost 400 Mafiosi.

It’s a surprisingly simple and powerful drama. The author handles time masterfully, flitting through Bouchette’s memories, visualizing his testimony from the past. We are thrown into the world of “Cosa Nostra” instantly, painfully and shockingly. Names, events, and bullets are hurled at the viewer from the screen. It’s overwhelming at first, but after just 15 minutes it pulls you into a bubbling maelstrom of passion thanks to the lacy, non-linear narrative the director constructs. The film won numerous awards and grossed 4.8 million euros at the box office.

29. Let’s go to hell’s mouth/Andiamo a quel paese

Salvatore Ficarra&Valentino Picone, 2014

A story about how easy it is to be reckless and dare to realize your craziest ideas, if there’s a crazy friend around, who, with no less excitement, is ready to go to all kinds of trouble with you at any moment.

Two friends, Salvo and Valentino, left without work, are forced to leave Palermo and settle in a small town Monteforte, where life is not so expensive and it is easier to make ends meet. The new reality is not what they had imagined: in the town there are almost alone elderly people. However, the characters soon realize that the old people are not so useless, because each of them has a good pension.

Despite its deep philosophical meaning, which exposes the economic decline of Italy and where it seems that young people have no place at all, the film is easy to watch and surprises by its unusual script. It also showcases the colorful nature and wonderful scenic spots of Sicily. When you watch these episodes, you are fully immersed in the atmosphere of the local periphery. By the way, the film was filmed entirely in the province of Siracusa.

30. There’s no place for law/L’ora legale

Salvatore Ficarra&Valentino Picone, 2017

The inhabitants of the small Sicilian town of Pietramare are tired of corruption and lawlessness of the authorities and elected a new mayor – as honest as the world has never seen. The newly elected head of administration gives his word to fight everything that is against the law – and these are not just pretty words for agitation. He promises the citizens clean streets, bicycle lanes, and free medicine, but it turns out that not everyone in town is ready for such changes.

Particularly displeased are the new mayor’s sons-in-law, who were used to the easy life under the previous government. They decide to put things back the way they were and devise a cunning plan.

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