About this project
Welcome to our new Kickstarter campaign. Thank you so much for your support. This campaign is enabling us to finish the journey we have begun in Sicily, creating a documentary that chronicles the remarkable slow food traditions surrounding the many religious festivals on the island.
Initially funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign in the spring of 2013, this film project is the brainchild of Fabrizia Lanza, owner of the world-renowned Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily, located on the Tasca d’Almerita Regaleali Estate, a winery and farm that has been in the family for generations. The school was founded in 1989 by her mother, Anna Tasca Lanza, who wanted to preserve the culinary and agricultural traditions of Sicily and to respect the natural landscapes she loved deeply. The school has brought people from around the world, including famous chefs and slow food advocates like Alice Waters, Jamie Oliver, Julia Child, Bobby Chin and Gary Rhodes. Fabrizia also heads the Natura in Tasca line of sustainable, slow food Sicilian products, which we feature in our Kickstarter prizes.
Sicilian religious festivals contain the food traditions in Sicily that are becoming endangered, though there is hope on the horizon if projects like this can show how important these culinary legacies are to our land, our economy, and our society. By creating a truly beautiful film and sharing it in Sicily and around the globe, we hope we can help them stay alive.
To film these festivals, we travel to every corner of Sicily, from the modern city of Palermo to the ancient Greek city of Siracusa. From small towns near Mount Etna to the mountain villages in the center of the island. We go as far south as the remote island of Pantelleria, close to the coast of Africa, and as far north as the island of Lipari, in the Aeolian islands. We want to portray not only the culinary and cultural variety in Sicily, but also the great contrast in landscapes and agriculture.
This is a uniquely Sicilian story, but one that is analogous to the so many narratives playing out on every continent at the moment. We’re at a crossroads, deciding whether these ancient, slow food traditions are a vital part of our future... We think they are. If you agree with us, please consider contributing to our project!
First of all, by donating through this Kickstarter Campaign. Kickstarter is an online funding platform for creative projects driven by an all-or-nothing rule. If we don’t raise our goal of $15,000, we get nothing and no money changes hands. If we do reach our goal, the film will come out in January 2015. Our campaign lasts only 60 days and those 2 months will go very fast. If you can, please pledge now because it will help build critical momentum.
You can also help us build a grassroots movement by helping us spread the word. You can share this link (or the bitly version) on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, by email, or via blog post.
Please don't forget to check out our gallery of rewards at the bottom of this page. The scrolling is worth the yield; we really don't want you to miss how delicious they are!
- Filming our last two festivals (out of seven total), Santa Rosalia in Palermo and San Bartolo di Stromboli in the Aeolian islands.
- Supporting our cinematographer, Giacomo Costa, for the hundreds of hours he puts into filming and editing, as well as supporting our co-producer, Erica Berry, and her 6-month period in Sicily filming, editing, and promoting the film.
- Funding the final editing, including color correction, graphic design, translation, subtitling, and sound editing.
- Covering promotional costs, including press tours and application fees to film festivals in the US, the UK, Italy, and several other countries.
- Start-up costs, including film equipment, our website, and graphic design.
- Supporting our co-producer, Lena Connor, and her 6-month period in Sicily promoting the film, as well as supporting our cinematographer, Giacomo Costa, for his filming and editing work.
- Filming five festivals from October 2013-April 2014, including travel costs for the crew.
We filmed this autumn festival in a small town in southern Sicily called Favara and also in the big city of Palermo. The festival celebrates the fruits of the autumn harvest and the seeding of the wheat fields. Locals give thanks to God and their ancestors for the past year’s abundance and ask for blessings on the next year’s crops. After Sicilians clean and adorn the gravestones of their lost loved ones, they go home to treat their children to the traditional sweets of the festival, like La Frutta di Martorana (marzipan shaped fruits with local almonds) and I Pupi di Zucchero (incredibly-formed sugar puppets), after a dish of Fava Coniglio (seasonal fava bean stew).
We filmed this festival near Mount Etna, in a volcanic town called Belpasso as well as in the ancient Greek city of Syracuse. Saint Lucia is one of Sicily’s most famous patron saints, born in the 3rd century in Syracuse, and famous for her shining example of bravery and light in the darkness. Legend has it that centuries after her death, the spirit of Lucia saved Syracuse from famine by sending a ship of unground wheat. A ceremonial dish of called La Cuccia (unground, stewed wheat made sweet or savory) was born. The island honors Lucia by eating only foods without ground wheat, like Arancine (fried saffron risotto balls stuffed with a variety of seasonal fillings). Celebrated on the 13th of December, the festival is a mid-winter extravaganza, with community art installations, fireworks, and processions.
Carnevale, or Sicilian Mardi Gras, is the feasting and revelry that comes before the season of Lent. It is celebrated throughout February and March. For this light-hearted festival, we flew all the way to the remote Sicilian island of Pantelleria, closer to Tunisia than it is to Sicily. On this isolated, volcanic island, winter and early spring are times when tourists are gone and the close-knit communities have time to come together and prepare large meals and to dance late into the night at the small village dance halls. The Panteschi, as residents are called, make fresh Ravioli con Ricotta e Menta (ravioli stuffed with local cow’s-milk ricotta and fresh mint), Stufato di Maiale al Finocchietto Selvatico (pork stew with wild fennel), Mustaccioli (intricately carved cookies made with local honey, local citrus, and couscous), just to name a few of the many dishes prepared.
San Giuseppe is one of the most important festivals in Sicily, which honors Joseph and his fathering role in the sacred family (Joseph, Mary, and Jesus). In Sicily, communities gather together to prepare huge altars of devotion, covered with a myriad of different breads, cakes, sweets, and fresh fruits and vegetables. We filmed this remarkable festival in two agricultural towns in western Sicily, called Poggioreale and Salaparuta. Both were completely destroyed by a famous earthquake in 1968, and the haunting backdrop of the ruined old cities made a poetic contrast to the festival of springtime renewal and protective patrimony--showing the strength of Sicilian faith and community, despite adversity. For the festival, they prepare Il Pane di San Giuseppe and Cucciddatu (types of bread with wild fennel seeds, shaped into ancient forms), Scartucciato (large pastry forms filled with fig paste, carved into ornate, symbolic shapes), and La Pasta di San Giuseppe (pasta with tomato sauce, wild greens, wild asparagus, wild fennel, and local sheep’s milk ricotta).
Festivals to come: Pasqua (Easter) in April, Santa Rosalia (Saint Rosalie) in July, and San Bartolo (Saint Bartholomew) in August.
We are a cross-cultural team, from Sicily and the United States. Making the film together is a way to create a film that communicates the profound beauty of Sicilian traditions both locally and globally.
Fabrizia is the director of the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School and travels around the world to produce events focusing on Sicilian cuisine in renowned restaurants. These have included Alice Water’s Chez Panisse and Mario Batali's restaurants Lupa and Il Posto, to mention only the most famous. Fabrizia is the author of Olive, A Global History and the cookbook Coming Home to Sicily: Seasonal Harvests and Cooking at Case Vecchie.
Fabrizia runs our crew and is the creative designer of the project. She is both our general and our mother hen. She spends hours on the phone coordinating film shoots with local Sicilians, arranging interviews for the film, and researching recipes. As the face of the project, she promotes the film and its slow food mission both locally and abroad.
Born in Palermo, Giacomo grew up on panelle (Sicilian fritters) and Youtube videos. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo, Sicily and then worked in a group of creative artists in Salemi by Oliviero Toscani, where his passion for photography and cinematography was cemented. He now lives in Milan, where he is completing a Master's in Photography at the Academy of Brera while working as an independent filmmaker at Wrong Studios. Samples of his film and photography can be found on his website.
Giacomo is our cinematographic rock star. While on location, he can be always found carrying about three tons of equipment. He directs every filming session and mans his 5d and 7d Canon cameras and his many lenses and accessories with grace and admirable focus. He is also in charge of editing of the film, which he does in both Milan and Sicily.
Lena graduated Magna Cum Laude in May of 2013 from Pomona College in Claremont, California, with degrees in environmental anthropology and politics, with a minor in religious studies. An Udall Scholar Award Recipient and a Rhodes and Marshall Scholarship Finalist, her research focuses on ecotheology (Christian environmental ethics). She is planning to attend Duke Divinity School in the fall of 2014. She loves sustainable farming (especially goats!), cooking, hiking, and knitting and she blogs about faith and sustainability.
Lena is our American liaison and do-it-all girl from March 2013-June 2014. She coordinates the Kickstarter fundraising campaigns, runs the website and blog, and aids Fabrizia with the content development and logistics for the project. On location, she helps Giacomo with the filming, takes photos for the blog, and tries to lose as many of her possessions as possible.
Erica will graduate in May of 2014 with honors and a coordinate degree in English and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. A 2013 Udall Scholar award recipient and current editor-in-chief of her college newspaper, she is interested in pursuing multimedia storytelling about the intersections of humans and their ever-changing environment. She has previously blogged for Nowhere Magazine, written about organic farming for Culinate.com, and assisted with filming in Vietnam for the upcoming Ken Burns PBS Vietnam War documentary series. She loves hiking, cooking with fresh produce, and poetry.
Erica will take over Lena’s duties for the second half of the project, overseeing the logistics of filming, editing, and promotion from July- December 2014. She will help Giacomo with the last two festivals in the summer, aid in the final construction and polishing of the film, and will work on garnering media attention for our project. Erica will also prepare all of film festival applications and plan our press tour and premier.
Umberto started his career as fashion photographer in Milan, where he has also taught photography for many years at the Art Academy, "N.A.B.A." (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti). After the advent of the digital world, Umberto opened his horizons to digital photography and graphic design. He is currently based in south Sicily and his work consists of fine art photography that he mixes with graphic design for corporate and brand communication. You can see examples of his photography on his website.
Umberto is the photographer for the project's accompanying cookbook and comes with us on location to photograph the food, the people, and the landscapes of Sicily. With his several digital cameras, he mills about the shoots, snapping photos. Umberto is, without a doubt, the sanest and most even-tempered member of our team and keeps us all in good spirits and smiling.
Below are sample images of some of the prizes we have prepared for our donors. For the edible products, we are using a combination of foods made right here at the cooking school (such as the fruit preserves and tomato products) and foods produced sustainably by small farmers in Sicily, under the Natura in Tasca label. When she's not filming with the crew, Fabrizia travels around Sicily selecting the best slow food products for the Natura in Tasca project. Many products are rare, heirloom varieties unique to Sicily.
Our fruit preserve basket is filled with preserves made at the cooking school with fruits from our garden and orchard. We've picked preserves for you from our "Endangered Fruits" section of the orchard, which was started by Fabrizia's mother to retain diversity in Sicilian orchards.
Our salt and spices basket contains the seasoning so important to Sicilian cooking. We include two types of sea salt from the salt flats of Mozia, dried in the sunshine of Western Sicily. And from Regaleali, our estate, there is a mixture of homegrown herbs mixed at the Cooking School, which includes peppermint, salvia, rosemary, bay leaf, geranium, orange thyme, catnip, oregano, and garlic.
Our honey basket includes five types of honey from around the island, selected by Natura in Tasca for their unique flavors and sustainability. Several varieties are made by the native Sicilian black bee, ape nera, which is more suited to Sicilian ecosystems and is an important species to cultivate for biodiversity and disease resistance.
Our pasta and fish basket highlights two important staples of the Sicilian diet. But these products are far from ordinary. The pasta is made from Sicilian grown old-variety wheats, grown and produced locally and on a small-scale. And the anchovies, so critical for many Sicilian dishes, are caught right off the coast near Palermo. We'll also include some of our famous tomato extract from the cooking school, so you can make the perfect Sicilian pasta dish.
This oil and spices basket centers around the olive oil made on the Tasca d'Almerita Regaleali estate from the olive groves that surround the Cooking School. Twelve types of olives are used to make this superb extra-virgin oil, cold-pressed each year in late autumn. We'll complement your bottle with a our herbs, salts, and a variety appetizers, including sun-dried tomatoes, pistachios, and artichokes from the estate or from the Natura in Tasca line.
As a patron or benefactor, if you cannot come to Sicily to do a cooking course, we will send this "grande" basket to you, with a selection of 12 Natura in Tasca or Cooking School products that you choose.
These incredible ceramics are handmade by a woman in the small village of Poggioreale, Sicily, where we filmed the festival of San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph). She makes intricate pastries in these precise forms called scartucciato, filled with figs. Each form has spiritual significance and adorns the altars made for the celebration. To preserve the traditional forms for future generations, she has made ceramic versions as well. We cannot send you the pastry, unfortunately, but this is the next best thing. She will make the ceramics especially for this Kickstarter campaign.
As a patron or benefactor, you get to come to Sicily and have a free cooking course with Fabrizia, our director, at the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School! For several days, you will immerse yourselves in the sights, smells, and flavors of central Sicily. You will also have a tour and tasting at the family winery on the estate and explore our local agriculture through workshops and tours.
We hope that this project can be added the ark of slow food techniques that can not only act as a snapshot of history, but can inform how we shape sustainable culture in the present and in the future. Most of all, we want to honor the communities and the landscapes that have given the world Sicilian cuisine, which is a treasure trove of wonderful food.
Thank you for your support! Please share our project with friends and family members you think might be interested in our mission.
Risks and challenges
One of our challenges is doing this project in two languages, English and Italian. Not only is there a linguistic barrier when designing and editing the film, but the difference between Italian and American filmmaking is distinct. It has been an adventure to blend these cultures to make a film that is applicable to a foreign audience, but detailed enough to be interesting to an Italian audience.
Another challenge is running an active cooking school and a line of sustainable food products on top of the filming and fundraising for this film. We rarely sleep, but we think it will be well worth the effort in the end.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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