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A Sicilian Dream

Synopsis: 
The Targa Florio was a Sicilian mountain road race that, in 1906, gave birth to an era of motorsport that is still going today.
Dreamt up by the younger son of a Sicilian dynasty, Vincenzo Florio, the Targa Florio ran until 1977 and was simultaneously considered as both totally insane and an absolute ‘must do’ by drivers and manufacturers alike.
Pistons, Passions and Pleasures: A Sicilian Dream is a theatrical documentary that journeys into the very heart of this story,
exploring its many intrigues and revelations. Our journey is led by one of Italy’s most preeminent dreamers: Francesco da Mosto, the well-known Venetian architect, historian and incurable romantic.
When the film begins, we find that Francesco knows the island of Sicily and the Targa Florio race well, but is desperate
to discover more. There are many questions he wants to ask: Who was Vincenzo Florio and what led him to create this race,
the first of its kind?
 Who were the characters? What were the human stories of the Targa Florio?
 What happened to Vincenzo Florio on his personal journey from a member of a rich and powerful dynasty to a financially broken man?
 How does the legacy of the race live on around the world, both in racing and automotive terms, and in terms of Sicilian culture and passion?
We join Francesco on his quest to dig deep into Sicilian history to discover the unique story of the Florio dynasty
and the charismatic romantic, Vincenzo Florio.
Francesco follows the winding circuit of the Targa Florio, travelling in the different cars that raced there through the years.
Along the way, he passes through remote mountain villages, meeting the local characters and storytellers as they reveal
hidden gems of incident and folklore.
The legends of the past are united with the passions of today as vintage and classic cars by Fiat, Mercedes, Ferrari, Peugeot
and Porsche arrive from all over the world with their owners and mechanics, who converge on the island to pay homage
to the mother of all road races. We delve into the famous Targa Florio stories and their wider influence on world motor racing,
as well as the Sicilian legacy that is still held so dear by the locals.
Pistons, Passions and Pleasures: A Sicilian Dream is a beautiful film that brings together three storylines on
our journey of discovery: Vincenzo Florio the man, the Targa Florio race and the island of Sicily itself.
It takes us right into the drama of the Belle Époque, amidst the mountains and villages of a striking Sicilian landscape.
We experience the thrills of an era-defining race that is simply too dangerous to run today, and we are transported deep into the hearts of those who remember. We also explore the dramatic life of Vincenzo Florio, the philanthropist dreamer who started it all – to his ultimate financial downfall.
Runtime: 
01:10:42
English subtitle: 
Yes

Subtitles:

Information for the Audience: 
Overview
The Targa Florio was a Sicilian mountain road race that, in 1906, gave birth to an era of motorsport that is still going today.
Dreamt up by the younger son of a Sicilian dynasty, Vincenzo Florio, the Targa Florio ran until 1977 and was simultaneously considered as both totally insane and an absolute ‘must do’ by drivers and manufacturers alike.
Pistons, Passions and Pleasures: A Sicilian Dream is a theatrical documentary that journeys into the very heart of this story,
exploring its many intrigues and revelations. Our journey is led by one of Italy’s most preeminent dreamers: Francesco da Mosto,
the well-known Venetian architect, historian and incurable romantic. Francesco invites Alain de Cadenet,
an independent racing car constructor and driver, to join him in his quest to discover what compelled so many men
and women to seek the glory of winning this death-defying race.
40 years after nearly dying in the Targa Florio himself, Alain de Cadenet retraces the route of the legendary
Sicilian mountain race that ignited both the island and the motoring world. Driving the tortuous route and tracing its evolution
along with world events, Alain and Francesco reveal the unique allure that saw the Targa Florio endure from the romantic times
of the Belle Époque adventures through to its deadly conclusion in the 1970s.
 
The protagonists
Alain de Cadenet is a ‘Renaissance Man’ who has led a life of adventure. But there is at least one horrific memory that
he would like to shut the door on forever. In 1971, Alain crashed his Lola prototype car and nearly died in the Targa Florio.
He was pulled from the burning wreckage by a random stranger, a Sicilian farmer who found him unconscious.
Alain is determined to put the nightmare of the crash behind him for good by driving the Targa Florio route one more time,
seeing it as the mother of all road racing and as the glorious race that ignited the world and gave birth to legends and dreams.
 
Francesco da Mosto is a man with roots in two islands, Sicily and Venice, where he lives in the ancestral palace
of his father’s family on the Grand Canal. For Alain, he is the perfect companion: a half-Sicilian historian who can help him
uncover the magic of the Targa Florio. For Francesco, Alain’s invitation to drive the route with him is the perfect opportunity
to discover more about the race that is part of Sicily’s lifeblood, and in doing so, connect with his Sicilian side – a part of him
that he feels is missing. Francesco feels a real kinship with Vincenzo Florio, suspecting that (like many islanders),
they are both dreamers and have a quirky sense of adventure.
 
The plot
The film begins with Francesco leaving his Venetian home by boat and joining Alain in Sicily at the Tribune,
the decaying classical starting point of the Targa Florio. During this opening sequence, we intercut with scenes that
immediately hit home the importance of this unique road race. We see the twisting circuit driven by 100 year old
period racing cars that are still preserved and capable of achieving unbelievable speeds with their enormous engines.
We get our first inkling of just how dangerous the course was through a series of dramatic recreations in original locations.
The film tells us the story of Vincenzo Florio’s first motor vehicle, a De Dion motor tricycle, which he raced against a horse
and a cyclist in 1899. The horse won!
 
We then see Vincenzo Florio at the wheel of a 1903 Panhard car in 1906 – a time when all he wanted to do was race, have fun
and help Sicily in the process. He meets Felice Nazzaro coming from Turin to deliver a fast Fiat car. Felice stays on the island
for four years as Florio's mechanic and companion, winning the 1907 race in a Fiat and eventually returning to Turin
to build his own cars. The film then cuts to Francesco and Alain driving a 1913 Nazzaro, similar to the one in which Felice won
the 1913 Targa Florio Giro, which by then had become a 600 mile race around the whole of Sicily.
Could Vincenzo possibly have known that the races he created would mirror the fortunes of the island, and indeed of all Europe,
for the next three quarters of a century? Could he have foretold their impact? We will never know, but we do know that
Vincenzo’s dying dream was that the Targa Florio would not be forgotten. The film illustrates how this dream has been fulfilled
and how the race still endures in the minds and souls of many – including Sicilian children born after the Targa Florio ended,
and the owners of the 100 year old racing cars who are returning to the island to relive the circuit’s many challenges.
 
Francesco is greeted by Silvana Paladino, Vincenzo’s closest living relative, who thought of him as a grandfather.
Silvana is a link to the very man himself and shows Francesco the Florio home and memorabilia which she inherited with
her husband. She remembers Vincenzo’s boyhood passion for all things mechanical and new; the same passion that led him
to create the race, and which is revealed and put into the context of the times when the new art form of Futurism
was emerging in Italy.
Vincenzo is a true child of the Belle Époque and his race is a mirror for what is happening in the world. Europe is at peace.
The spirit of the time is all about dreaming, trying new things and exploring new technology. It is a time for adventure.
It is also a time for the rich and noble to enjoy travel and witness the incredible feats of endurance shown by the
intrepid drivers of these monster vehicles. In the early days, these are characterised by cars with no front brakes,
no windscreens and no safety belts, and which need a fleet of mechanics to keep them running and change tyres
that rarely last for many laps of the convoluted 90 mile circuit.
Despite the dangerous course, there are no real tragedies in the early years. The race is run on tracks that have only ever seen
donkey traffic before. There are no filling stations, with spectators providing petrol cans en route and pushing cars out of
ditches. The Sicilian people embrace the Targa Florio, lining the road in droves and jumping in to help out if a driver gets into trouble.
 
As Francesco and Alain drive the circuit in a series of vintage cars, including Alain's own Targa-winning Alfa Romeo,
they take us through the stories that make up the history of the race and of Vincenzo Florio.
These are grouped thematically, revealing the different aspects that make the race unique and significant. For example,
we illustrate the circuit’s renowned twisting curves with the story of drivers painting rocks and trees with secret signals
to themselves to signpost upcoming turns, and with the story of Varzi's Alfa Romeo which leaked fuel whist still racing –
and ended up catching fire. Alain tells us that he has never before seen the glorious mountain vistas they are driving
past today, as he couldn’t take his eyes off the road for a second when he was racing. To do so could have meant plunging
off a cliff at the next bend.
In the story of English driver, Cyril Snipe, recreated with an original 1912 SCAT car, we see the toll that this kind of driving
takes on the drivers. Snipe falls asleep on the roadside – exhausted from driving continuously all the previous day and night.
After an hour of sleep, it takes a bucket of water over the head to wake him before he goes on to win the race.
As each new aspect of the race is revealed, Alain comes closer to embracing the magic of the race and letting go of the crash,
whilst layer after layer is peeled away from Francesco. He discovers more of the missing Sicilian half of himself with every
new car driven, every new village they visit on the race circuit and every story told. Along with Alain and Francesco,
we come to see that the race belongs to all Sicilians, not just to the drivers.
We now move out of the Belle Époque and into the era between the two World Wars. The world has a new social and economic
structure, and a loss of innocence that is reflected in the Targa Florio and the life of its founder.
The race becomes more dangerous, recording its first driver death in 1926. The Florio family experience a drastic reversal in
their fortunes and Vincenzo Florio eventually loses his grip.
 
The post-war era of peace and stability in Europe, seen as the Golden Age of sports car racing, hits the Targa Florio.
This is a time when local hero and school teacher, Nino Vaccarella, wins the race three times. Nino,
the race's greatest proponent, tells us how he grew up dreaming of winning it, both because the Targa Florio is Sicily,
and because Ferrari, Lancia and Alfa Romeo are fighting a running battle with Porsche and a Mercedes driven by Stirling Moss.
British drivers Brian Redman and Vic Elford both have epic wins for Porsche during this era. Vincenzo Florio flags off the
drivers in the 1955 race that marks the Targa's return to glory, and he is finally able to die poor but happy.
However, like the world itself, the race is becoming too dangerous. The stakes are higher and the crashes, when they come, are deadlier. A fatal crash in 1971 signals the end of the Targa Florio as part of the World Championship. And in 1977 the race is stopped part-way and forever when a car ploughs into a group of spectators.
The dangers that characterised the final years of the race hit home as Alain revisits the location of the crash that
nearly killed him. In an emotional scene, Alain meets for the first time the son of the Sicilian farmer who pulled him free
from the car and saved his life. The son witnessed the crash aged just 12 years old and recalls the scene to Alain –
enabling him to come full circle from his racing days and finally gain closure.
 
For Francesco, the circle is also closed. As the two men roar down the Buonfornello Straight by the sea and into Floriopolis,
his inner journey, as well as his physical one, is complete. By connecting with the Targa Florio, Francesco has rediscovered
his Sicilian roots and found the part of himself that was missing. He feels complete.
In different ways, the Targa Florio is in the blood: the blood of Alain, Francesco, Vincenzo, the race and the island of Sicily.
                                                                                  It is not forgotten.
 
Direted by Philip Walsh
Produced by David Biggins
An Upfolds Media Limited Production

 

 

 

 

Screenings / Awards: 

Nice International Film Festival 2016 - WINNER "Best New Director", nominated for "Best Story"

Indianapolis Film Festival 2016 - Nominated  "Best Documentary"

AutoVision Film Festival September 2017 at Frankfurt International Motor Show - WINNER OTTOCAR Best Documentary

Rome Film Festival October 2017 - Preselected.

Premiere Screening at Leicester Square October 2015, with Guest celebratory Nick Mason of "PINK FLOYD"

Directed by: 
Philip Walsh
Writing credits: 
Original Script by Ms. Carolyn Saunders Film Script by Philip Walsh
Cast: 
Featuring:- FRANCESCO DA MOSTO & ALAIN DE CADENET Also Featuring:- NINO VACCARELLA DOUG NYE SILVANO PALADINO PARTICIPANTS SILVANA PALADINO GIOACCHINO LANZA TOMASI GIUSEPPE VALENZA ANTONIO CATANZARO ANTONINO VENTURELLA NUCCIO SALEMI GILLIAN CARR RICHARD MORRIS CHARLES JOHN MILNE ATKINSON PENNY MORRIS DAVID BIGGINS JANE BIGGINS MICHAEL NEW CAMILLA FRASER HICKY HICKLING ROSADELE FACETTI DOUG NYE PIETRO CASSANITI CICCIO LIBERTO NINO VACCARELLA FRANCESCO RUSSO LUCIA LA PLACA SALVATORE MESSINEO CAST Young Alain De Cadenet LILLO LO RE Boy Vincenzo Florio GABRIELE CASSATA Young Boy 01 MARCO BIANCA Young Girl 01 SOPHIA BIANCA Nun MARIA CAVOLI Young Vincenzo Florio BENNY VALENZA Cyclist JOSEPH VALENZA Horse Rider RICARDO LO BUE Vincenzo Florio FABRIZIO PACE Ignazio Florio MARCO CARBONI Donna Franca MARISA CARLISI Felice Nazzaro MIRKO GIRALUCCI Sicilian Villager PEPPE SAJA Sleeping Boy 01 GIUSEPPE VIZZINI Sleeping Boy 02 DARIO DI FRANCESCA Drummer ANTONIO CATANZARO Old Sicilian Man 01 FFRANCESCO CACICIA Old Sicilian Man 02 GIUSEPPE RUTIGLIANO Old Sicilian Man 03 SALVATORE GAGLIO Peugeot Driver CLIVE PRESS Lorrain-Dietrich Driver GILLIAN CARR Lorrain-Dietrich Mechanic JOHN BRYDON Cyril Snipe PHILIP WALSH Cyril Snipe's Mechanic JAN VRHOVNIK Baroness' Mechanic JAMES RUFFELL Baroness Maria Antonietta D'avanzo SANTINA CAMPO Young Enzo Ferrari FERDINANDO CHIFARI Bigwig 01 SERAFINO TROINA Bigwig 02 VINCENZO SCOLARO Bigwig 01 / Priest MATT LAWSON Bigwig 02 / Count Masetti EDOARDO RUSSO Elizabeth Junek ADRIANA PENATI Vincent Junek / Mechanic SIMONE MAGGI Policeman DAVID MEADOWS Bugatti Driver VINCENZO MARASCO Louis Chiron FEDERICO CIMO Louis Chiron's Mechanic VINCENZO ZISA Achille Varzi LEONARDO CAMPANELLA Boy On Wall 01 SIMONE LO MAURO Boy On Wall 02 GIRESI ALESSIO Boy On Wall 03 MARIO SCELFO Old Vincenzo Florio SERAFINO BARBERA Raimondo Lanza Di Trabia GIOVANNI PIRROTTA Aristocrat DAVE CHAPMAN Boy In Crowd LORENZO RUISI Francesco Da Mosto's Son COSIMO DA MOSTO Young Francesco Russo GIUSEPPE PROVENZANO
Produced by: 
DAVID BIGGINS Co-Producers: SIMONE MAGGI & SHEILA HAYMAN Executive Producer: CHRISTOPHER HIRD
Music by: 
Archive
Cinematography by: 
Directors Of Photography: DAVID MEADOWS ZORAN VELJKOVIC
Film Editing by: 
Edited By: LAWRENCE BARRACLOUGH
Casting by: 
Casting Co-Ordinator:- FRANCESCA BALLISTRERI
Costume Design by: 
Costume Designers:- MARIA FERNANDA NAVAS BIGGINS & EDOARDO RUSSO
Makeup Department: 
Make-Up Artists:- JULIET GARLAND & TERESA BASILI
Production Management: 
Production Manager:- PAMELA SEALY Production Co-Ordinator:- ADRIANA PENATI Unit Production Manager:- FRANCO TURDO
Other crew: 
Second Unit & Steadicam Operator JAMES RUFFELL Third Unit Operator ANDREW SEGGINS Camera Assistant & Dit JAN VHROVNIK Sound Recordists DAVECHAPMAN CRISPIN LARRATT Stills Photographer BECCA PARKER
Release Date: 
Friday, October 23, 2015
Official sites: 
http://siciliandreammovie.com/ www.upfolds.com https://www.facebook.com/targafloriofilm
Total votes: 79

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