Crowned the most popular Italian documentary this year, The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio tells story of how filmmaker Agostino Ferrente and Avion Travel musician Mario Tronco put together an orchestra of 30 foreign musicians playing 15 unrelated instruments-a miracle in itself. The two Italians are both residents of the Piazza Vittorio neighborhood, a stone's throw away from Rome's Termini station. This old area is populated by some 60 ethnic groups and has more foreign residents than Italians. With the aim of saving the glorious old Apollo Theater from the threat of being turned into a bingo parlor, Tronco and Ferrente created a neighborhood committee called the Apollo 11. Their first goal was to re-open the Apollo as a multi-media, multi-ethnic theater; their second was to find musicians from the four corners of the globe to play in an orchestra. Ironic humor is the keynote that holds their five-year saga together, as they struggle against ever-new obstacles, but ultimately succeed in creating this astounding musical group, and learn the stories of musicians from Tunisia, India, Africa, Cuba and beyond in the process. This is a rousing call to arms for fans of world music, and for all those who believe in the mini-miracles of neighborhood cultural initiatives.
Born in 1971, AGOSTINO FERRENTE was editor and coordinator for various newspapers and television stations for Italian communities abroad before becoming a filmmaker. He first achieved recognition at international film festivals with his short films Poco più della metà di zero (1993) and Opinioni di un pirla (1994). His film company produced two documentaries which he co-directed, Intervista a mia madre (1999) and Il film di Mario (1999-2001); both films received many awards. In 2001, along with a dozen accomplices, he founded the group Apollo 11 in Rome, which has since become one of the most active centers of cultural productions in the city. He is currently working on the web-documentary Appunti sull'amore in co-direction with Giovanni Piperno. He is a member of the Accademia del Cinema Italiano.