Cinema returns to be the protagonist in the small Sila. Giovannesi shoots Hey Joe with James Franco


By John

Ciak, we turn into the small Catanzaro Sila. And in the shadow of what was once the Grand Hotel delle Fate in Villaggio Mancuso, memories resurface of a fleeting season of Italian cinema lived among the pines and wooden houses of this enchanting portion of the plateau which is rediscovered, after so many years, as perfect natural set for stories and settings of great cinema and audiovisual. In the past, in fact, especially in the fifties and sixties, leading names of the Italian silver screen did not disdain meeting in this corner of Sila, an elite tourism destination of the time. We are talking about sacred monsters such as Raf Vallone and Sofia Loren, who here received, in August 1960, the Oscar dei Due Mondi awarded as part of the Sila film award. Together with them, embellishing an exceptional parterre, there were, as «Settimana Incom» documented in a film available online, Vittorio Gassman, Anna Maria Ferrero, Giovanna Ralli, Lorella De Luca, Lidya Alfonsi, Carlo Croccolo, Marisa Merlini and Teddy Reno. Around environmental locations of great beauty and charm that enhanced the dramatic atmospheres of a blockbuster film of the time, “The Wolf of Sila”, a film that marked the return from Argentina of Amedeo Nazzari and gave an extraordinary interpretation by Silvana Mangano. And again, with lighter and more enjoyable characteristics, in 1963, the year in which Fabrizio Taglioni filmed “La Ballata dei mariti” between the Catanzaro Sila and the Ionian sea, a sort of ‘tourist postcard’ film with actors of the caliber of Aroldo Tieri in the cast and Memmo Carotenuto, a great character actor, and the singer and soubrette Marisa del Frate, who later became Calabrian by adoption. In the chic environments of the «Grande hotel delle fairies», conceived and built in the 1930s by the Catanzaro entrepreneur, Eugenio Mancuso, a true pioneer of Calabrian mountain tourism, there was no shortage of other important presences from cinema and theater such as Gigi Proietti and Oreste Lionello.

Villaggio Mancuso, after more than half a century, aims to revive its cinematographic vocation also from a tourist perspective thanks to the new set of another production. «Hey Joe» is in fact the title, probably also inspired by a blues song by Jimi Hendrix, the new film by Claudio Giovannesi, whose filming ended a few days ago in the Sila tourist resort of Catanzaro. The protagonist is the American actor James Franco. Other interpreters are Giulia Ercolini, Francesco Di Napoli, Aniello Arena, Francesca Montuori. The photography is by Daniele Ciprì. In addition to the location in Sila, other scenes, in a mix between the seas and mountains of Calabria, were filmed in Pizzo. “Hey Joe” is a Palomar production with Rai Cinema and Vision Distribution with the support of Calabria Film Commission. The plot develops, in the early 70s, between New Jersey and Italy. The protagonist is Dean Barry, an American veteran who twenty years earlier abandoned a girl, Lucia, whom he met in Naples after the war and who became pregnant. In the ‘States’ he receives a telegram with the news that the woman is dead. And so he decides to return to Italy to meet the son born from their relationship. In the Neapolitan capital, however, Barry discovers that his son, now a man, has grown up in the underworld.