Antonio – the puppeteer from Sicily

Germany 2021 – 25′

“There′s something magical about pulling the wires and bringing a piece of wood to life,” Antonio enthuses.

When he saw his first performance at the age of three, he was immediately enchanted. Today, at the age of 12, Antonio is the youngest puppeteer in Sicily. He owns over 40 puppets, and each one has its own distinctive character. He even designed and had two of them built himself. They represent Sicilian judges who bravely fought against the Mafia and were eventually murdered by it. For Antonio, they are role models. Like most young Sicilians, he condemns the Mafia for oppressing the people of the island with violence. He learned this in the lessons about the Mafia that are part of the school program in Sicily. Antonio has also dedicated a piano melody to the two murdered judges. “The Mafia didn′t really kill these brave men,” he says, “they still live in our hearts, and we carry on their ideals.”

Right now, Antonio is preparing a special performance. For the first time, he will perform not only for friends and relatives, but also for strangers. But above all: among the invited guests is the old most famous puppeteer of Sicily. His opinion is very important to Antonio. To be recognized by this great maestro would mean a knighthood for him. But Antonio is afraid of disappointing him and also himself.

The closer the day of the performance gets, the more excited Antonio is. For he still does not master the movements of sword fighting very well. This key scene in Sicilian puppet theater is supposed to be like a dance, and that requires a lot of skill and speed. Until the night before the performance, Antonio practices with an experienced puppeteer. But there is so much more that could go wrong… Even though his father reassuringly tells him that mistakes are part of the way to the goal, Antonio can hardly sleep the night before this big challenge.

A film by Carmen Butta.

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