Martin Scorsese Set To Shoot Ancient Shiprecks Doc

Martin Scorsese is set to shoot a documentary in Sicily about ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea that will bring the Oscar-winning director back to Polizzi Generosa, the small town where his paternal grandparents were born.

The untitled project is based on research by U.S. archaeologist Lisa Briggs, who is a professor and researcher at Cranfield University in England. Briggs is specialised in terrestrial and underwater archaeology, specifically in the use of scientific tools including DNA analysis on artifacts recovered from ancient shipwreck sites, to reconstruct stories of ships, sailors, cargoes, and maritime trade in the ancient world. 

“We’ve welcomed the initiative with enthusiasm,” Francesco Paolo Scarpinato, who is Sicily’s councillor for cultural heritage, told Italian news agency ANSA. He added that the island’s authorities are “making all pertinent sites and archaeological parks available, considering the relevance of the project.”

Several other sources have confirmed that shooting is expected to start this summer on Scorsese’s high-end doc which is being co-produced by the Sicily’s regional culture department and the director’s Sikelia Productions shingle in tandem with Sunk Costs Productions of the U.K.; with U.S. producer Chad A. Verdi (“The Irishman”); and Los Angeles-based LBI Entertainment.

Scorsese’s ancient shipwreck doc will be shot in Sicilian terrestrial and underwater locations comprising the Strait of Sicily; the area surrounding the port city of Trapani, in Sicily’s north-west corner and nearby Marausa, known for the recent discovery of the “Marausa 2” wreck of a large sunken ship dating to the third century A.D.; in the archaeological parks of Selinunte and Lilybaeum-Marsala; the Caves of Cusa, and on the tiny island of Pantelleria. Selected locations also include the historic tuna fishery on the island of Favignana; the ancient Phoenician colony of Mozia; the medieval village of Erice and Polizzi Generosa, the town on a high cliff along the southern slopes of Sicily’s Madonie mountains, homestead to the director’s paternal grandparents, Teresa and Francesco Scorsese, before they immigrated to New York at the turn of the century.

In a Facebook post, Polizzi Generosa mayor Gandolfo Librizzi announced he has been quietly working with Scorsese’s staff for over a year and added that the doc “will be the opportunity” to bestow on Scorsese honorary citizenship of the beautiful town with a population of roughly 3,000 that is known for having a Hellenistic necropolis, a medieval castle, lovely churches, and for being the birthplace of Domenico Dolce of fashion designer duo Dolce and Gabbana.

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