Vasa Vasa

ITA | 2015 | short documentary

In the town of Modica, in Sicily, the Easter celebrations unfold from the perspective of the Madonna who was a helpless bystander at her Son’s Passion.
A series of visual exchanges, tears and prayers. The ritual of the clothing of the Madonna takes place, hidden from public view, in the darkened church and conveys an ultimate sense of bereavement. The opening and removal of the black cloak symbolises the return of life’s emotions from the shadow of Death as Mary bestows a kiss on her Risen Son.
Twelve minutes of intense suffering, keening and devotion. Twelve recalls the twelfth hour in which Mary witnessed her Son’s triumph over darkness. So then she abandons her cloak of mourning to greet the gathered crowds of the faithful robed in brilliant blue.


Director’s notes

“Holy Week, in those places once under Spanish dominion, holds a special fascination for writers, photographers and film directors. In Sicily, the liturgy reveals a mixture of influences deriving from Greek, Spanish and Arabian culture. The Vasa Vasa ritual of the Madonna as it unfolds in Modica dates back to at least 1645. On the day in which Catholicism celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, the townspeople of Modica gather in the main square at midday to witness the removal of the black mantle of mourning from the Madonna as she greets the Risen Christ. With an intimate and moving gesture, Mary the Mother kisses and blesses her Son and assumes the role of mother of all those pressing around the benediction ceremony.

The documentary begins with the ritual clothing of the statue of the Madonna, a devotional moment from which the public is excluded. It was my desire to communicate the sense of mystery. Alone, in the darkened church with the figure of the Madonna while a storm was raging outside, I experienced a feeling of emptiness. Of absence. Of bereavement. Mary is a woman who has lost her Son. A suggestion by De Andrè immediately springs to mind: in “Three Mothers” he sings “If I hadn’t been a child of God, I would still have you for my son”. The intimate relationship between the two takes on sacredness already in the mother-son relationship alone. And here I was helped by the popular piety of an elderly woman, Maria Bonomo, whose dirge in dialect is chant, pain, tear, Love, punctuated in memory of Jacopone da Todi in his “Donna de Paradiso”. Marco Cascone’s wonderful music reads mourning and joy more than any other element, built on the system of the original band music of the party composed by maestro Francesco Di Pietro, and enriched by the moving and incredible interpretation of the singer Yasemin Sannino.

The Feast of Easter (from the Hebrew “to pass over) corresponds with the arrival of Spring. Nature and Tradition are united in reminding us that what is destined to die can be reborn, that an end can have a new beginning. What ends can begin again.

Easter Sunday is the day on which everything can start afresh because anything may happen. Even the dawn of a new life”.

Alessia Scarso


title Vasa Vasa
year 2017
duration 12 minutes
country Italy
language Italian, Sicilian
shooting format 4K
screening formats DCP 2K
sound 5.1 + stereo
genre short documentary
director Alessia Scarso
production Arà
original score Marco Cascone
singer Yasemin Sannino
editing Alessia Scarso
art direction Maria Rosa Carpinteri
camera operators Alessia Scarso, Gianluca Tela, Vito D’Agostino, Gregorio Fisichella
organization Bianca Spadaro
sound editing Riccardo Landi
sound mixing Andrea Malavasi
post production supervisor Antonella Esposito
distribution Arà


Italian Film Festival USA Detroit, Cleveland (USA)
Modica e i Corti Modica (RG, ITALY)
International Frontier Film Festival Marzamemi (SR, ITALY)
Cerere Award
Valguarnera (EN, ITALY)
For alternative shorts
Villafranca Tirrena (ME, ITALY)
Verga Film Fest Vizzini (CT, ITALY)
Corti in Cortile Catania (ITALY)
Adrano Cinema Doc (Adrano, CT, ITALY)
Castelbuono Cinema Doc (Castelbuono, PA, ITALY)
Troina Cinema Doc (Troina, EN, ITALY)
Capizzi Cinema Doc (Capizzi, ME, ITALY)
39th International Film and Women Festival (Firenze, ITALY)
BangkokThai International Film Festival (Bangkok, THAILAND)
Johannesburg Cinema Doc (Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA)
AFC Global Fest (Kolkata, INDIA)
Popoli e Religioni Terni Film Festival
(Terni, ITALY)
Regional Meeting FIDAPA BPW Italy (Ragusa, ITALY)
International Roma FilmCorto Fest (Roma, ITALY)