Jonathan Demme and the black tarantella of Enzo Avitabile
by Camillo de Marco
29/08/2012 - Only those who have a village in their memory can have a true cosmopolitan experience, wrote Ernesto De Martino, the father of Italian anthropology. Jonathan Demme went to film the “village” of musician Enzo Avitabile, his Naples without folklore or illusions, and took from it the universality of his notes, made of passion for one’s origins and integration with music from the world. The possibility of “musical assemblies”, as Avitabile always called them, is the key to conserving cultural identity and favoring integration.
The meeting with the talented Neapolitan multi-instrumentalist and composer, from which the film Enzo Avitabile Musica Life (Out of Competition at the Venice International Film Festival), was significant. Jonathan Demme is not only the Oscar winning director of Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, or the refined documentaries The Agronomist and Man from Plains. He is also the director of music videos for Bruce Springsteen and New Order, and three musical documentaries on the much-adored Neil Young. One day, listening to his radio as he drove over New York’s George Washington Bridge, Demme was awed by an unconventional piece of world music by Enzo Avitabile. Five years later he was invited by his producer, Davide Azzolino, to film musical sessions where Enzo got together with his friends from all over the world: Trilok Gurti, Daby Touré, Amal Murkus, Hossein Alizadeh, Djivan Garsaryan Trio, Gerardo Núñez, Eliades Ochoa, Naseer Shamma, Ashraf Sharif Khan Poonchwala.
“It is the story of a life lived musically,” described Demme in a press conference this morning. He explained how he wanted to follow the musician through the impoverished town where he was born, Marianella, not far from the infamous Scampia’s of Gomorra. Naples is the emblem of a universal south. “It is a message of encouragement for young people who are dreaming of another life,” said Avitabile, whose lyrics speak of children in Baghdad and the diamond war in Africa. A musician that is thirsty for discovery and experiences, who surprises everyone with an extraordinary symphonic opera, Exeredati Mundi, and a new project called Black Tarantella.
(Translated from Italian)