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Ancient shipwrecks to get Scorsese touch


Diver on the Marausa 2 wreck in Sicily (Soprintendenza del Mare)
Diver on the Marausa 2 wreck in Sicily (Soprintendenza del Mare)

Film-maker Martin Scorsese is set to start work directing a documentary about ancient Mediterranean shipwrecks in Sicily this summer, after a year of secret planning for the project.

Scorsese has a deep connection with Sicily, and in the course of making the film will be revisiting his roots in Polizzi Generosa, the picturesque hometown of his paternal grandparents, according to Variety. Teresa and Francesco Scorsese emigrated to New York at the turn of the 20th century.

The as-yet-untitled documentary will be based on research carried out by US archaeologist and technical diver Prof Lisa Briggs of Cranfield University in the UK.

Lisa Briggs
Underwater archaeologist Lisa Briggs

Briggs specialises in applying tools including DNA analysis to artefacts recovered from ancient shipwreck sites and says: “My work makes use of a variety of scientific techniques in order to better understand the cargo items transported by ships in the ancient world.”

Filming locations will include the Strait of Sicily and the north-western areas around Trapani and Marausa, where the large 3rd-century AD “Marausa 2” wreck was found and raised recently; the archaeological parks of Selinunte and Lilybaeum-Marsala; the Caves of Cusa; and the islet of Pantelleria.

A historic tuna fishery on the island of Favignana; the ancient Phoenician colony of Mozia; and the mediaeval village of Erice are also likely to feature.

Martin Scorsese turns his hand to ancient shipwreck documentaries (Elena Ternovaja)
Martin Scorsese shifts his focus to ancient shipwrecks (Elena Ternovaja)

“We’ve welcomed the initiative with enthusiasm,” says Francesco Paolo Scarpinato, Sicily’s councillor for cultural heritage. The film will be co-produced by Sicily’s regional culture department, Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions and Briggs’ Sunk Costs Productions, Chad A Verdi and LBI Entertainment.

Scorsese, who at 81 has received more Best Director Oscars than any other living director, is noted for movies such as Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Gangs Of New York, The Irishman, Cape Fear, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Mean Streets, The Departed and, most recently, Killers Of The Flower Moon.

Also read: 2,000-year-old Roman vessel discovered off Italy, Food leftovers tell tales on Roman shipwreck, Divers extract Roman relic from Blue Grotto, The Atlantis of Italy – A Dive into History

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