For “Il Buco,” “El Quattro Volte” filmmaker Michelangelo Frammartino found the perfect metaphor in a deep, dark cave — and then, he got stuck in it. He was 700 meters inside the Bifurto Abyss, a large cave in the south of Italy, when a flood trapped him and his crew there during filming. That’s just one of the wild stories to emerge from Frammartino’s experience shooting the film, which won three prizes in Venice last year. Now, Grasshopper Film releases the movie May 13 in New York and in L.A. May 20. Exclusively on IndieWire, watch the trailer for the film below.
Here’s the synopsis: During the economic boom of the 1960s, Europe’s highest building is being built in Italy’s prosperous North. At the other end of the country, young speleologists explore Europe’s deepest cave in the untouched Calabrian hinterland. The bottom of the Bifurto Abyss, 700 meters below Earth, is reached for the first time. The intruders’ venture goes unnoticed by the inhabitants of a small neighboring village, but not by the old shepherd of the Pollino plateau, whose solitary life begins to interweave with the group’s journey. Another work of nearly wordless organic beauty that touches on the mystical from the visionary director of “Le Quattro Volte,” Michelangelo Frammartino’s “Il Buco” chronicles a visit through unknown depths of life and nature and parallels two great voyages to the interior. The film was winner of the Special Jury Prize at Venice last year.
“Everything was under control,” Frammartino told IndieWire about being trapped in the cave during filming. “We could have just waited until the end of the flooding but the media asked for a real-time rescue. We arrived outside the cave and it was strange.” He added that, upon emerging, “Outside the cave, there was this fiction that was far less ordinary and calm than the one we were trying to tell.”
From IndieWire’s review of the film: “If ‘Il Buco’ constructs a fiction using the tools of documentary, it’s a far cry from the land of Christopher Guest. Showcasing crystalline HD footage of the Calabrian wilderness, and offering no spoken dialogue or musical cues, ‘Il Buco’ wants to be mistaken for a hands-off, ethnographic nature doc about a group of young spelunkers in the southern Italian mountains. And it is very much that, though this 1960s-set excavation has been entirely mounted and period-staged for the purposes of a conceptually rigorous film.”