Another side of Zappa

Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

“Summer 82: When Zappa Came to Sicily”
(By Salvo Cuccia. Screening at 7:30 p.m. April 4 in Cinema 1, Carolina Theatre.
In Italian, with subtitles.)

Salvo Cuccia’s tribute to composer and guitarist Frank Zappa is really four different stories. In 1982, Zappa and his band traveled to Palermo, Sicily, to perform the last concert on their European tour.
Held in a soccer stadium, the concert happened at the same time as Palermo’s Feast of Saint Rosalia, and during a tense mafia feud. The ensuing tensions spilled over and caused the concert to devolve into a riot.
Zappa’s family emigrated from Sicily, which becomes the other story in this documentary. Zappa’s surviving family – his wife, Gail, and children Dweezil, Moon Unit and Diva – return years later to Sicily and have a heartfelt reunion with members of the Zappa family. Their guide and chauffeur is Massimo Bassoli, a friend of Zappa’s who also became the composer’s biographer and tells the story of how he came to know Zappa.
All of these stories are told through the lens of filmmaker Cuccia. A fan of Zappa’s music, he bought a ticket to the ill-fated concert, but arrived too late to use it. He and his dad were making the journey across Italy to Palermo in what would be their last trip together. (He finally saw footage in Los Angeles when he met the Zappa family).
Zappa was one of the most inventive, eclectic musicians of the last century, writing for rock ensembles, orchestras, bands and other combinations. He also was a biting satirist of the foibles of his time.
In Cucci’s touching film, fans see a different side of Zappa -- the devoted father who nurtures his children’s intellectual interests. The film has a wonderful soundtrack of Zappa compositions, what Cuccia calls “pure contamination which cut through the genres.”

--Cliff Bellamy, The Herald-Sun