Nico Cirasola – Bio
Born in Gravina di Puglia in 1951, he received his first communion from Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo in an enchanting ceremony at dawn. He graduated from the University of Bari with a degree in Foreign Languages in 1977, yet in as early as 1973 he had founded the first film club in Puglia, known as the “April 25th.” Here he organized not only film festivals but also concerts and various shows. Among the artists presented in Bari, were names such as Francesco De Gregori, Franco Battiato, Enzo Del Re and Ginger Becker. From 1973 to 1977, he made several documentary films on student protests. From 1976 to 1985, he was the promoter and cultural organizer for the Experimental Center for Culture S. Teresa dei Maschi, defined by the Corriere della Sera in 1980 as “the driving heart of culture in Puglia.” With the activities at the University Experimental Center, individual artists were born and trained in Bari and Puglia who would eventually excel in later years. It was also at the University Center, where Cirasola presented for the first time in public an S8mm film by the then unknown Giuseppe Tornatore: Il carretto. Renzo Arbore, Lina Wertmuller, Tullio De Piscopo and Herbert Pagani are only some of the figures Cirasola presented within the Center’s activities. From 1977 to 1987 he shot several short films and video clips for RAI in S8mm and 16mm video. In 1980 he shot a feature film in S8 titled Tuta blu and organized, for the first time in Puglia, a film and video festival, called Cinema and TV in the South (1980-84). In 1982 he curated a film retrospective and edited a publication, Da Angelo Musco a Massimo Troisi. Il cinema comico meridionale, which was published in the Ombra Sonora Edizioni Dedalo series, featuring contributions by distinguished critics. In 1985 he was artistic director of Florian Furtwangler’s film Tommaso blu.
He made his 35mm directorial debut at the age of 38 with Odore di pioggia (1989), screened in Portugal at the Tróia Festival, the first of his films in which he featured who was to become his favorite actor, Totò Onnis. The film starred Renzo Arbore as a philosopher barber and it earned him the Special Jury Prize at Annecy Film Festival and the Ministry’s Quality Award. Then he continued to combine directing and acting in Corsica (1991) and in Da do da (1994), for which, after being rejected for selection at the Venice Film Festival, he convinced then-director Gillo Pontecorvo to accept a “Salon des refusés” at the Lido where excluded films could be presented. He then acted in two films in 1995: Tonino Zangardi’s Afraid to Love and Massimo Guglielmi’s The Summer of Bobby Charlton. In 2000 he participated in Live Blood by Edoardo Winspeare. After these experiences, he decided to return to directing with Albània Blues (2000), his personal take on migratory phenomena.
Then with Bell’epoker (2005-2006) he evokes the “glory days” of the Petruzzelli theater in the early 20th century, in the aftermath of the fire that destroyed it. He found in Alessandro Contessa and his production company Bunker Lab, a producer figure who shares his same spirit. From this partnership came Focaccia Blues (2009), the docu-fiction about the failure of McDonalds in Altamura, unable to withstand competition from a local focaccia bakery. The film featured illustrious guests such as Lino Banfi, Renzo Arbore, Michele Placido and Nichi Vendola and received critical acclaim, including a Special Mention in the documentary category at the Silver Ribbon Awards. It toured festivals worldwide for over a decade. In 2011 he portrayed the doll doctor in Terry Gilliam’s European Short Film Award winner The Wholly Family and participated in Eugenio Cappuccio’s comedy Se sei così ti dico sì with Emilio Solfrizzi and Belen Rodriguez in the lead roles. He returned to directing for the feature film Rudy Valentino (2017), that premiered in Shanghai, revolving around the return of the Hollywood star to Castellaneta. Over the years, he continued his work in cultural promotion as a cinema operator running the Elia d’essay multiplex in Corato, the Airiciclotteri arena in Bari and organizing the Masseria del Cinema festival in Ostuni. His contribution in the world of cinema continued until April of this year, when he unexpectedly passed away.