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Matera: City of Stone

This is a story of three generations of a family over a century of migration from old world to new. It begins with my grandfather’s flight from the extreme poverty of southern Italy, known after World War II as "the shame of Europe," to Roaring 20s New York. It follows my father’s move from postwar New York to San Francisco in the 1960s, and concludes with the arc coming full circle: my own migration back to Europe where I rediscover the family that stayed in our ancestral stone-age city and prospered there.

The story of the Festas is the story of migration shared by hundreds of millions of people across the epochs and around the globe: people fleeing hardship in search of bigger futures for themselves and their descendants. It is no less a personal story, as the filmmaker comes to terms with the geopolitical and personal tragedies that shaped his forbears lives and his own. 

A film by Paul Festa.

Matera's Sassi Barisano, where the Festas lived until 1973.

Matera's Sassi Barisano, where the Festas lived until 1973.

The filmmaker (fifth from right) with his grandfather's nephews and their descendants.

The filmmaker (fifth from right) with his grandfather's nephews and their descendants.