Pietra Montecorvino gives her soul to the song, 'Nun Te Scurda' (Don't You Forget) in PASSIONE, a film by John Turturro.


Based on an Idea by:
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  • Alessandra Gaudioso
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* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.

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Passione (2010/2011)

Opened: 06/22/2011 Limited

Film Forum/NYC06/22/2011 - 07/14/201123 days
Quad Cinema/NYC07/15/2011 - 07/28/201114 days
Music Hall 307/22/2011 - 08/04/201114 days
Film Forum/NYC07/29/2011 - 08/09/201112 days
Town Center 507/29/2011 - 08/04/20117 days
Quad Cinema/NYC08/12/2011 - 08/25/201114 days
Kendall Square11/25/2011 - 12/01/20117 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: Musical/Documentary (In English and Italian w/English subtitles)

Rated: Unrated


When acclaimed actor-director John Turturro was invited to make a film about Neapolitan music he was intrigued, as an Italian-American who grew up with many of the swooning ballads that had been popularized. When he revisited the place and met the artists living there carrying on the tradition, he was completely blown away. The city had so much to say, there was nothing to do but sit back and listen. Preconceived ideas evaporated and what was meant to be a straight-ahead documentary transformed into a wild fantasia, an adventure into the vibrations of history.

In the film's 23 songs, you can hear the cultures of many invaders, the Greeks, Arabs, French, Spanish, Normans, and Americans. Eight centuries echo in the aqueducts in "Canto Delle Lavandaie (Washerwomen's Song)." In "Tammuriata Nera," WWII is relived as Al Dexter's twang collides with the primal roar of Peppe Barra. "O Sole Mio" becomes blend of goldenage television performances and the North African vibe, and "Malafemmena" is portrayed for the first time in all its irony, in the context of its very inspiration. The song "Vesuvio" is performed only as it can be by those who live at the foot of the volcano bearing that name.

Each song, whether written in protest or superstition, out of love, jealousy, or poverty, is an emotional postcard about what has changed and what has not. In Naples, life, death, hunger, and brutality are ever present, but a solitary voice on the street can cause an entire intersection to break out into song. Passione is Turturro's celebration of that. With the aid of journalist Federico Vaccalabre, cinematographer Marco Pontecorvo, and editor Simona Paggi, along with the resourceful crew of Neapolitans, he has let the film come directly out of the people, the walls that surround them, and the land they inhabit, and invited us all to join in the song.

Director's Notes

I am a music lover who grew up in a non-stop musical household. I like all kinds of music, and spent many a day in my basement, conducting an imaginary orchestra, or gyrating to the sounds of James Brown. I really wanted to be a great dancer, like Fred Astaire, so I've danced in every movie I could get away with.

Napoli is one of those places where after fresh air, food, and shelter, music is an essential ingredient for the survival of the people. It was Franceso Rosi, the great Neapolitan director, and close friend, who opened a door for me into this world. After spending five years together working on LA TREGUA, adapted from Primo Levi's classic memoir, he suggested I explore Eduardo de Filippo's QUESTI FANTASMI. He thought I had the right sensibility for it. I performed it in New York with my cousin Aida, and Max Casella (who appears in PASSIONE). We were invited to do it in Naples, which was a transforming experience. Performing Eduardo in front of a Neapolitan audience right after the loss of my mother, is an experience I will always treasure. Their enthusiastic, open reception of their great playwright being performed in English, which could have easily backfired, left a lasting impression.

There are places that do something to you, deep down in your unconscious, in your soul. Naples is that for me, as it has been for so many other people in the arts, poets, writers, painters, musicians throughout the ages. I don't know why, but I fell in love with the place. The landscape, the poverty, the pain, the sea, the volcano, the coffee, the danger, the beauty, the dirt, the driving, the mystery, the sensuality, the food, the craziness, the irony, and the people, most of all, the people. Its power is big, a melting pot of sound and images. It reminds me of New York, especially in the 70's, but more crushed, like a great pesto.

When I was invited by Carlo Macchitella and Roberto Cicutto to undertake this film exploring the music of Napoli, I wondered why they asked me. I knew they appreciated my film ROMANCE & CIGARETTES, but I'm no expert on Neapolitan music, and I had much to learn and investigate. Federico Vacalabre was a valuable guide and teacher, exposing me to the wide range of popular music that has come out of this city.

The one song I knew I wanted to include was "Tammuriata Nera" because it's such a unique and powerful piece, which many people in other countries have never heard. I spent over a year and a half listening to the music. In the end, I followed my instincts, keeping my ears opened to all the people who worked with me, letting the music and the artists lead us. I tried to see if I could understand in a small way, a little bit of the soul of Napoli, at the same time killing the cliches about it. My goal is to have made a film that will speak to an Italian audience, and travel beyond, throughout the world, like the music did in the past. A musical adventure, that comes out of the people, the walls that surround them, and the land they inhabit. The performers, some from Napoli and some from abroad, are not just singers in the film, but storytellers. The talent I encountered was surprising, inspiring, generous, and moving.

The film is a true collaboration, between me, the performers, the director of cinematography Marco Pontecorvo, and the mama of the film, our editor, Simona Paggi. I hope we have caught something unique... Now it's up to you to decide. Take our little gift, like a fish wrapped in newspaper, and open it gently.

--John Turturro (also known as Giua)


John Turturro studied at the Yale School of Drama and for his theatrical debut created the title role of John Patrick Shanley's "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" for which he won an Obie Award and a Theatre World Award. Since then he has performed on stage in many productions including "Waiting for Godot," in the title role of Bertold Brecht's "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui," and Eduardo De Filippo's "Souls of Naples," for which he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. He recently appeared as Hamm in "Endgame," at BAM in the spring of 2008.

For his work on television, Turturro was nominated for a SAG Award for his work in the role of Billy Martin in "The Bronx is Burning" in 2008 and for his portrayal of Howard Cosell in "Monday Night Mayhem" in 2003. In 2004 he won an Emmy for his guest appearance on the hit series "Monk."

Turturro has performed in more than 70 films, including Martin Scorcese's "The Color of Money," Tony Bill's "Five Corners," Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing," "Jungle Fever," and "Mo' Better Blues," Robert Redford's "Quiz Show," Peter Weir's "Fearless," Tom DiCillo's "Box of Moonlight," Alison Anders' "Grace of My Heart," as Primo Levi in Francesco Rosi's "La Tregua," and Joel and Ethan Coen's "Miller's Crossing," "The Big Lebowski" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou". For his lead role in the Coen Brothers' "Barton Fink," he won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival and the David D. Donatello Award. Other films include Robert De Niro's "The Good Shepherd", John Dahl's "Rounders," Sally Potter's "The Man Who Cried," Barry Levinson's "What Just Happened?," "You Don't Mess with Zohan" and "Mister Deeds" with Adam Sandler Michael Bay's "Transformers" films.

He has directed three other films; for his directorial debut, "Mac," Turturro won the Camera d'Or from the Cannes Film Festival. His second film, "Illuminata" was in official competition at Cannes in 1997, and his third, "Romance & Cigarettes," debuted at in official competition in Venice in 2005.

The Performers of "Passione"


A fixture of Italian pop music, Mina has recorded nearly 80 albums since the 1960's, topping the Italian charts and also reaching the world at large. The sound of Naples can be heard in much of her work. PASSIONE opens over her rendition of the song "Carmela"; in it, she sings to the entire city.


Many of the band members live at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius, which may explain their deep, vibrant, soulful sound. Their albums have been published by Real World, Peter Gabriel and Manu Chao's label and their songs have been included in the soundtracks to The Sopranos and the BBC series, The Long Way Down. Touring Europe, America and Japan, they are no strangers to bringing the music of Naples from the foot of the volcano and into the world.


The New York Times recently pointed to Misia as "a pioneer of the fado revival." A star of Portuguese music, her concerts and albums have also found great popularity in Spain, France, Germany and Asian countries. She has explored great musical traditions from all over the world, including Neapolitan song, which recently garnered her the "Carosone Award" for the best foreign performance. She is featured in PASSIONE twice, including the haunting "Indifferentemente."


Two-time winners at the Sanremo song festival, Avion Travel brings the world their sweet recipe of rock, jazz, contemporary music, theater pieces and film music, with unmatched instrumental virtuosity and the stage presence of Peppe Servillo who gives a wonderful performance in PASSIONE opposite Misia, as they perform the song "Era de Maggio."


Her rare, unmistakable, original voice gives a blues timbre to the Mediterranean sound. The close collaboration with Eugenio Bennato brings together power and sophistication, pathos and patient musical research. Her version of "Comme Facette Mammeta" is both a skilful experimental work and a pop jewel.


In his working-class youth, Ranieri made a name for himself by singing in restaurants and at ceremonies, anywhere he could find. Once his talent was discovered, he quickly rose to fame in the world of music, film and TV, and became one of Italy's most beloved entertainers. In the 1970s, he also garnered much respect as a stage actor, and he has maintained all four facets of his career to this day. PASSIONE features footage of his early days, electrifying an audience with "O Sole Mio," and his performance of "Malafemmena" with Lina Sastri displays his two most essential qualities: wisdom and lightness.


Sastri has walked the most diverse stages, from street theaters to famed venues. Acting alongside Italian legends like Eduardo and Peppino De Filippo, and under the direction of filmmakers like Loy, Moretti, Tornatore, and Giuseppe Bertolucci, her performances bring the voice, tone, and physical features of a universal and very personal Naples, as seen opposite Ranieri performing "Malafemmena."


One of today's most important Tunisian singers, Ben Taleb has adopted Italy as her home, collaborating closely with Tony Esposito and Eugenio Bennato. Her work enhances the connection between two great Mediterranean cultures, combining ancient Arabic song with classic Neapolitan, infusing a modern neo-melodic sound. She is one of the revelations of the film both in terms of her charm and her talent, in "O Sole Mio," and "Nun Te Scurda."


This wild, histrionic tenor tackles an array of musical genres, from the established Neapolitan songbook, to '80s pop, to Caribbean, equally commanding with a solo piano or full orchestra. He has written songs for other recording artists such as Rettore, Fiordaliso, and Mina, and is an inventive performer of his own songs and covers of artists like Culture Club, Cyndi Lauper, Berte, Madonna, and Queen.


Born into a family of Neapolitan artists, known as an actor, singer, and musician, Barra is a founding member of the group La Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare, a staple of Neapolitan and Italian culture. The combination of theater and music is an underlying element to his power and his success, and his knowledge of the history of his craft is also on display in Passione.


More than 100 performances of this wonderful singer and actress are kept in the Historical Archives of Neapolitan Songs. She has appeared in the films of Pasolini, Visconti, and Zeffirelli, starring opposite Marcello Mastroianni, Totò, Eduardo de Filippo, and Aldo Fabrizi, and winning multiple awards including the David di Donatello award for her performance in Martone's L'amore Molesto.


A highly versatile American actor of Neapolitan ancestry, Casella had early success on the series "Doogie Howser, M.D." More recently he appeared in another classic U.S. series, "The Sopranos". His performance on Broadway in "The Lion King" earned him a Theatre World Award, and a Drama Desk Nomination. He starred with John Turturro in "Souls of Naples", in the Brooklyn Academy of Music's production of "Endgame", and again more recently in Teatro Stabile's production of Calvino's Italian Folktales.


One of the best bands in the new music wave in Italy in the '90s, bringing the Neapolitan language and tradition together with electronic, dub and funky influences; a mix which captures and engages different types of experiences and followers such as Pino Daniele, Mauro Pagani and Massive Attack.


The charismatic voice of Almamegretta, blending dub, trip-hop, Mediterranean rhythms, and Asian and Neapolitan melodies in an extremely original and personal way who also as a solo singer embodies the biting and poetic soul of Naples as metaphor of meeting point of cultures which are only apparently foreign, such as the Neapolitan, the Arabic and the Anglo- American ones. He expresses through his music what he expresses in his interview; to be from Naples is to be from nowhere and belong everywhere.


A very sophisticated singer and guitar player, Cigliano enjoyed great popularity between the '50s and the '60s, achieving notability at the Naples and Sanremo Festivals. Some of the hits he has written have become classics. In the mid '60s he established a duo with Mario Gangi, which researched and rewrote traditional Neapolitan music, becoming world famous. As seen in the film, his "Catari" is a moment of rare, contemplative beauty.


A master saxophonist also with a heart-rending voice, James Senese with his band, "Napoli Centrale," contributed to the Pino Daniele's first records. A brilliant jazz musician, he bridges the coast of Italy to the States with his authentic mastery of an American art form. His rendition of the song "Passione" is a centerpiece of the film, as is his interview about being the son of an American father whom he never met.


Comedian, singer, radio and television presenter, Fiorello is an Italian superstar, on television holding a satirical lens to Berlusconi, appearing in American films, and also replacing Morgan Freeman for the Italian release of March of the Penguins. In his hands, the song "Caravan Petrol" ironic dancing contest between two unrestrainable dancing talents: Fiorello's and John Turturro's.


The three youngest voices in the film are entrusted with its most ancient song, one of the most ancient in the whole Neapolitan tradition, dating back to 1200, almost having marked the birth of that very tradition.


Consistently mixing different genres, from pop-rock with James Brown and Tina Turner, to ethnic explorations of Mediterranean sounds and rhythms, popular sacred music and classical music. He has played digital instruments and medieval percussion with Bottari di Portico. To national and international acclaim, he practices and teaches a type of music which is outside market patterns, paying attention to the past and to the future.


Among the most beloved and internationally successful Neapolitan artists, ith "Napul'e", Daniele wrote what is probably the greatest contemporary classic of the Neapolitan tradition, a moving embrace to the city, its faces, and to the people living in it and making it live. A multi-platinum artist tours with Eric Clapton in June of 2011.