Review: The Strange Sound of Happiness
by Camillo De Marco
- Diego Pascal Panarello's documentary begins with a personal experience which will ultimately lead the director to Siberia, to the origins of a small musical instrument
"We don’t choose the things we believe in; they choose us." It’s with this Dickensian maxim borrowed from Minority Report that Diego Pascal Panarello has developed a visionary and fascinating documentary, The Strange Sound of Happiness [+see also:
film profile]. The debut feature by the Sicilian filmmaker and musician was awarded with a special mention at the prestigious DOK Leipzig where it world premiered, before premiering in Italy at the 36th edition of the Bergamo Film Meeting and finally touching down at CPH:DOX 2018 in Copenhagen (15 to 25 March) – one of the most important international documentary festivals – in the Sound and Vision section.
The Strange Sound of Happiness is the story of Diego, the director himself, fascinated and obsessed by a small instrument with a hypnotic sound, typical of Sicily, known as the scacciapensieri (marranzano in Sicilian). An iconic sound in cinema, used by Ennio Morricone in Sergio Leone’s western, For a Few Dollars More in 1965. But that small, vibrant piece of metal is in fact an instrument with very ancient roots, and Diego, determined to discover its origins, travels as far as the icy plains of Yakutia in Siberia, where the scacciapensieri, known as the khomus ("magic man"), is a national instrument and a symbol of happiness. Does the “magic man” of ancient prophecy have something to do with the Sicilian musician?
Thanks to a narration that weaves between the real and the magical, supported by an ironic voice-over, the film progresses from one step to the next with some incredible meetings and dreamy animations (edited by Alvise Renzini from Ciclope Opificio in Bologna), as well as someextraordinary landscapes that are well photographed by Matteo Cocco (Emma [+see also:
The result of a long process of research and preparation, the film began with a successful crowdfunding mission in 2012, allowing Panarello to travel to Siberia, and has been developed thanks to the support of the Turin-based production company Stefilm, which has been interested in his work following his "Best Project" award at Bardonecchia Documentary in Europe (2011), producing the film together with the German outfit Kick Film, with the support of MiBACT, Sicily Filmcommission, Piedmont Doc Film Fund and ARTE. The Strange Sound of Happiness will hit Italian cinemas in April, distributed by the Bolognese outfit Apapaja.
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