A Street In Palermo (via Castellana Bandiera)

Directed by Emma Dante
  • Italy/Switzerland/France
  • 90 minutes
  • 2013

Don’t mess with Sicilian women. That’s perhaps a reductive summary of the cinematic debut of Italian theatre director Emma Dante, which revolves entirely around a stand-off between two cars in a narrow lane in the jerry-built outskirts of Palermo.

Two women, Rosa (Emma Dante) and Clara (Alba Rohrwacher), bicker as they drive through Palermo backstreets; we soon realise they are lovers on the verge of a break-up. A proletarian family return from a fractious day at the beach, driven by Samira, the resented mother-in-law of a sweaty, crass, bolshy family patriarch. Finally, the two cars grind to a halt facing each other, with neither driver prepared to reverse. It’s a stand-off that begins in the realm of the possible but soon drifts into more dreamlike, allegorical territory.

In Italy, the expression ‘Far West’ is used to mean a place or situation where no rules apply, and A Street In Palermo depicts a Sicilian Far West which is also a Far West of the soul: a place forsaken by god and man, where obstinacy is the only virtue left.

Lee Marshall
Screen International

Winner, Best Actress, Venice Film Festival

With the support of the Italian Institute of Culture Dublin

Emma Dante, Alba Rohrwacher, Elena Cotta