photo by Giulia Parlato

Sicilian Ghost Story: Film Screening and Q&A

Sicilian Ghost Story (2017, 116′, PG-13) written and directed by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza
New Jersey premiere screening, New York Times Critic’s Pick (Nov. 29, 2018)
Followed by Q&A with director Antonio Piazza, moderated by Teresa Fiore, Inserra Chair

Mon. Dec. 3, 2018 6-9pm
School of Communication and Media, Presentation Hall 1040

TRAILEREvent flyer

Cast: Julia Jedlikowska (Luna), Gaetano Fernandez (Giuseppe), Corinne Musallari, Sabine Timoteo, Vincenzo Amato.
Cinematography: Luca Bigazzi; Music: Anton Spielmann; Editing: Cristiano Travaglioli; Set design: Marco Dentici.
Production: Massimo Cristaldi, Carlotta Calori, Francesca Cima, Nicola Giuliano; U.S. Distribution: Strand Releasing.


Synopsis (see official trailer)

In a little Sicilian village at the edge of a forest, Giuseppe, a boy of 13, vanishes. Luna, his classmate who loves him, refuses to accept his mysterious disappearance. She rebels against the silence and complicity that surround her, and to find him she descends into the dark world which has swallowed him up. Inspired by the true story of Giuseppe Di Matteo, who was abducted in 1996 on orders of Sicilian Mafia boss Giovanni Brusca in order to silence his father, a cooperating witness.
Based on a short story by Marco Mancassola, “The White Knight” (included in the volume We Won’t Be Confused Forever), Sicilian Ghost Story was screened in the International Critics’ Week section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival where it received a 10-minute standing ovation. The awards won by the film include: a David di Donatello for Best Adapted Script; a Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival; a Nastro d’Argento for both cinematography and set design; and Magna Graecia Film Festival Award for Best Film and Best Actress.

The film has received very positive reviews internationally for its outstanding imagery, powerful storytelling, and intense acting, especially on the part of the young protagonists. Its uniqueness also rests in its innovative take on the crime film genre through a mesmerizing style that does not compromise, but actually enhances, its message of civic and private resistance.


Directors and screen writers Fabio Grassadonia (Palermo, 1968) and Antonio Piazza (Milano, 1970) have been collaborating since the 1990s. Their first short film, Rita (2010), about the experience of a blind Sicilian girl dreaming of a freer existence, was presented at dozens of film festivals around the world, and won several recognitions. Their first feature film, Salvo, about a hit man for a mafioso who is forced to question his life when he meets a blind woman, was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013, and won both awards in the Semaine de la Critique section: Grand Prix and Prix Révélation.

Grassadonia and Piazza have worked as consultants for Filmauro and Fandango, and as script consultants with Berlinale Residency, Locarno Open Doors, POWR Baltic Event, Torino FilmLab, Semaine de la Critique Next Step, Nisi Masa ESP. They are Visiting Affiliate Professors at the University of Malta.

Photo (from left to right): Antonio Piazza and Fabio Grassadonia. Photo credits: Giulia Parlato.

Antonio Piazza will be available for a Meet and Greet session with students before the screening (4-5pm) in Morehead 143.

  • Organized and sponsored by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies (Department of Modern Languages and Literatures) at Montclair State University
  • Co-presented with the Film Institute at Montclair State University, with the support of the Consulate General of Italy in New York.


Sicilian Ghost Story Review: Fairy-Tale Love Meets Real-Life Crime” by Jeannette Catsoulis (New York Times, Nov. 29, 2018)
“In Sicilian Ghost Story, A Boy Goes Missing — And A Girl Goes Searching” by Ella Taylor (NPR, Nov. 29, 2018)
“Fabio Grassadonia, Antonio Piazza, Filippo Luna – Sicilian Ghost Story” by Samantha Sartori (FRED Radio – The Festival Insider – in Italian) Click on “Play Podcast”.
“How Sicilian Ghost Story revolutionizes the Mafia film” by Tara Brady (Irish Times, Aug. 2018)
“Review Sicilian Ghost Story” by Rich Cline (Aug. 2018)
“Film Review: Sicilian Ghost Story” by Christopher Machell (Cinevue, Aug. 2018)
“Review Sicilian Ghost Story by Ross McIndoe (July 2018)
“Cannes Film Review: Sicilian Ghost Story” by Jay Weissberg (Variety, May 2017)
“‘Sicilian Ghost Story’: Film Review Cannes 2017” by Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter, May 2017)
“Film of the week: Sicilian Ghost Story is a chilling vision of lost youth” by Pamela Hutchinson (Sight and Sound – BFI Film Forever, Aug. 2018)
The directors’ Facebook page with updates on their work and activities
The directors’ first short Rita on Vimeo.