The story of the judge Antonino Saetta and his son Stefano, victims of a vicious ambush perpetrated by Cosa Nostra 35 years ago, is unfortunately a story often forgotten. Two young Sicilians, the director Davide Lorenzano and the producer Cristian Patanè, decided to tell it through the docufilm “L’Abbraccio. Storia di Antonino e Stefano Saetta“, an important act of remembrance that has been received by Italian and international audiences with numerous awards, mentions and festival appearances.
Presented at the 50th Giffoni Film Festival, the work was part of 20 international selections, receiving 5 special mentions and 11 awards for best documentary (including Mario Puzo award from Corto e a Capo, Vittoria Peace Film Festival, Terni Film Festival, Foggia Film Festival, CortoDino, Catania Film Festival). The film has been broadcast on RAI and screened in several countries, including the Niepokalanòw Festival in Wroclaw, Poland and the Reel Doc Fest 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
The President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella also praised the film, defining the documentary “real and particularly touching, in memory of an upright and honest judge and his young son.” Moreover, an extra of L’Abbraccio has seen the involvement and participation of the singer Gino Paoli and Universal Music Italia. Recently, the writer Roberto Saviano also mentioned L’Abbraccio as a source of inspiration and information for writing a chapter of his book Solo è il coraggio – Giovanni Falcone, il romanzo (Bompiani, 2022).
It is the night of September 25, 1988, a night brighter than the others: the moon is full and radiates the Road 640, to Palermo; a car is on the move when it is attacked by a commando of men who explode a lead hail at the unsuspecting passengers of the vehicle. The mangled and unrecognizable bodies belong to Antonino Saetta, aged 65, president of the first section of the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Palermo, and to his son Stefano, thirty-five. Both headed to the Sicilian capital, without escort, after having participated in the baptism of a grandchild.
Antonino, sentenced to death by Cosa Nostra because he was impassive to compromise but donated to the cause of Justice and Stefano, unaware martyr of a despicable reality that spares no one.
From the trial of the Red Brigades, in Genoa, to another one that marks the time, that of the sinking of the merchant ship Seagull. But Nino Saetta is also the judge who issues the severe sentences against principals and killers of the massacre that struck Rocco Chinnici and the murder of the captain of the carabinieri Emanuele Basile. Therefore the mafia kills, for the first time, a judging magistrate, the most accredited to preside over the appeal of the famous Maxi trial, and, for the first time, together with a son. The same one who, that night of full moon, was found with his father’s body lying on his. Perhaps, Antonino’s last attempt to save his life. In the last dramatic hug.
Italy, 2020 (60’)
Photography by Daniele Ciprì
On the occasion of “Fare Cinema 2023”, the Italian Institute of Culture and the Consulate General of Italy in Edinburgh are delighted to present a special screening of “L’Abbraccio. Storia di Antonino e Stefano Saetta” on Thursday, 15th June at 6:00 pm at the Italian Institute of Culture (in Italian, with English subtitles). The director Davide Lorenzano and the producer Cristian Patanè will be in conversation with Professor Davide Messina, Chair of Italian and Comparative Studies at the University of Edinburgh.
Journalist sensitive to historical research and new languages, he worked as an editorial consultant for publishing houses and collaborated with newspapers and webzines such as Corriere della Sera, Il Sole 24 Ore, Il Fatto Quotidiano, The Post Internazionale dealing mainly with criminal organizations, the environment and society. In 2016 he wrote and directed “Il Giudice di Canicattì. Rosario Livatino, courage and tenacity”, independent documentary, with the voice of Giulio Scarpati, broadcast on Rai Storia and streamed on Rai Play. In 2020 he wrote and directed “L’Abbraccio” on the forgotten story of Antonino and Stefano Saetta, victims of a ferocious ambush by Cosa Nostra, an award-winning documentary, DOP Daniele Ciprì, broadcast on Rai Storia and streamed on Rai Play. He has been working on a new documentary film which conquered the final of the Solinas Documentary Award for Cinema 2022. He lives and works in Milan.
He debuted at the age of 17 with the 35mm short film “The White Nights”, freely based on the novel by Dostoevskij, selected by the Giffoni Film Festival and winner of numerous awards. From 2016 to 2022 he was personal assistant to the director Piero Messina. He has written and directed several short films, winning numerous awards at international festivals; he has also produced various documentaries, including “L’Abbraccio. Storia di Antonio e Stefano Saetta” by Davide Lorenzano. His latest work is Corpo e Aria (2021), a short film starring Selene Caramazza and Francesco Colella, Dop Daniele Ciprì, selected in many “Oscar Qualifying Festivals”, such as Santa Barbara International Film (USA), Bogoshort (Colombia) and Show me Shorts (New Zealand) and more than 20 selections in many important Italian and international festivals. He won the SNCCI Prize of Lago Film Fest. In 2022 he won the 37th edition of the Solinas Award – screenplays for cinema, Claudia Sbarigia award talent in telling female characters. He is currently working on the pre-production of his feature film. He lives and works in Rome.
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