Documentary Shorts by Vittorio De Seta

Documentary Shorts by Vittorio De Seta

12 Episodes

Heralded by Martin Scorsese as “an anthropologist who speaks with the voice of a poet,” Italian director Vittorio De Seta produced a string of extraordinary short documentaries in the 1950s that distill their subjects to pure cinema. Shooting in vivid color in the rural villages of Sicily, Sardinia, and Calabria, De Seta captured the rhythms and rituals of everyday life among the fishermen, miners, shepherds, and farmers who continued to live and work according to the preindustrial traditions of their ancestors. Presented without voiceover so that the rhapsodic visuals speak for themselves, these miniature marvels stand as essential, ennobling records of a vanished world.

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Documentary Shorts by Vittorio De Seta
  • Introducing Vittorio De Seta

    Episode 1

    This introduction by Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival chief Gian Luca Farinelli was recorded in 2020.

  • Vittorio De Seta Interview

    Episode 2

    In 2006, filmmaker Vittorio De Seta spoke with Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival chief Gian Luca Farinelli about his documentary work. Excerpts from that discussion are presented here.

  • Golden Parable

    Episode 3

    Directed by Vittorio De Seta • 1955 • Italy

    Filming amid the flaxen wheat fields of Sicily, Vittorio De Seta documents the everyday rituals of farmers during harvest time.

  • Sea Countrymen

    Episode 4

    Directed by Vittorio De Seta • 1955 • Italy

    The rhythms of the sea set the tempo for this vivid account of a day in the lives of Sicilian fishermen.

  • Islands of Fire

    Episode 5

    Directed by Vittorio De Seta • 1954 • Italy

    This prize-winning short is a poetic portrait of life on the coast of Sicily before, during, and following a volcanic eruption.

  • Solfatara

    Episode 6

    Directed by Vittorio De Seta • 1955 • Italy

    Harshness and beauty exist side by side in this look at the lives of sulfur mine workers and their families in southern Italy.

  • Easter in Sicily

    Episode 7

    Directed by Vittorio De Seta • 1955 • Italy

    Vittorio De Seta captures the music and pageantry of an Easter celebration in Sicily.

  • The Age of Swordfish

    Episode 8

    Directed by Vittorio De Seta • 1954 • Italy

    Vittorio De Seta’s rhythmic editing adds drama to this chronicle of a Sicilian spearfishing expedition.

  • Orgosolo’s Shepherds

    Episode 9

    Directed by Vittorio De Seta • 1958 • Italy

    The striking landscapes of rural Sardinia provide the backdrop to this lyrical look at the hardscrabble lives of the region’s shepherds in winter.

  • Fishing Boats

    Episode 10

    Directed by Vittorio De Seta • 1958 • Italy

    The unpredictable nature of the sea governs the world of Sicilian fishermen as they work, rest, and seek refuge from a storm.

  • A Day in Barbagia

    Episode 11

    Directed by Vittorio De Seta • 1958 • Italy

    From sunrise to sunset, Vittorio De Seta chronicles the lives of Sardinian women who look after both home and fields while their shepherd husbands are away tending their flocks.

  • The Forgotten

    Episode 12

    Directed by Vittorio De Seta • 1959 • Italy

    Vittorio De Seta travels to a remote province in southern Italy to capture a unique celebration known as the “Feast of Silver.”