Gibellina - Il terremoto

A massive earthquake destroyed the Sicilian mountain village Gibellina 39 years ago. Hundreds of people died. The survivors eked out a life in meagre barracks for 15 years. Many left the country. The city was rebuilt 18 kilometers away as a lifeless bedroom community with modern, shoddy architecture and an over-abundance of modern art: an oversized, open-air museum at the border of a failed vision with increasing social and economic problems.

(production note)

The Sicilian town of Gibellina was destroyed by an earthquake in 1968, then rebuilt years later at a distance from its original location. This was not done in a conventional way, instead reflecting a utopian vision of renewal opposed to the traditional forces of bureaucracy, political corruption and the Sicilian Mafia.
Joerg Burger examined this political utopia in his complex portrait entitled Gibellina – Il terremoto, for example by juxtaposing life today in Gibellina Nuova with the ideas underlying its design. He let representatives of the town speak (the mayor, the pharmacist, the priest, etc.), added archival footage from various periods in the town´s history, and used as illustrations numerous precisely composed views of the new town´s modern architecture, the many art objects and the wide-open, empty spaces.
Burger´s narrative style and his insistent, impish gaze open up a number of surprising viewpoints: Gibellina – Il terremoto clearly shows that what was intended to be success story, that of a city of art, has over the years resulted in a fiasco of urban planning. Currently Gibellina seems to be a "town without a center and without a soul," poorly planned and burdened with social problems. The many sculptures standing in the public space (the "largest open-air museum of modern art in Europe") represent a grotesque contrast with the acute shrinkage of the population and the obvious desolation: Better than any other town, Gibellina personifies the contrasts of the Modern age and has itself become a monument to failure.

(Constantin Wulff)

Translation: Steve Wilder

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Pressestimmen (Critique)

„Gibellina ist ein starkes, tragisches Klagelied über feudale Verhältnisse, die einer politischen Utopie das Wasser abgegraben haben, aber mit der Tragik auch die skurille Absurdität des Dorfes zeigt“ (Hilde Hoffmann / Duisburger Filmwoche)

„Es gibt wenige Filmemacher, die eine komplexe Geschichte so bündig und dennoch so detailreich erzählen können, wie Joerg Burger.“ (Vrääth Öhner: in: Kolik Film, 2007)

„Ein vielschichtiger, kluger, lustiger Film“ (Isabella Reicher / Der Standard)

Orig. Title
Gibellina - Il terremoto
72 min
Joerg Burger
Orig. Language
Joerg Burger
Johannes Hammel
Cicco Busacca, Antonia Busacca
Joerg Burger
Joerg Burger
Joerg Burger
Available Formats
Digital Betacam (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Frame Rate
25 fps
35 mm (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Dolby stereo
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
Festivals (Selection)
Viennale - Vienna Int. Film Festival
Duisburg - Duisburger Filmwoche
Linz - Crossing Europe Film Festival
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Belgrad - FEST Int'l Film Festival
Thessaloniki - Int'l Documentary Film Festival
Pesaro - Film Festival
Spello - Flower Film Festival (Best Film)
Nyon - visions du réel - Festival Int. du Cinéma Documentaire
Helsinki - DocPoint Int'l Documentary Film Festival
Oslo - Eurodoc Documentary Film Festival