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29 June1970
Enzo Mazzeo
Voce di Enzo Mazzeo | Registrazione a cura di Milo Adami | Suono di Michele Manzolini

Enzo Mazzeo is a 22-year-old Neapolitan engineering student with a passion for cinema. He has just won an award for an amateur documentary made with the Cine Club of Naples, when together with his friend Lello Mazzacane, a young photographer and future visual anthropologist, he starts a series of 'photo-cinematographic expeditions' in the deep South. The two documented little-known rituals at the time, such as the Easter rites of the Volture communities, the 'Battenti' of Nocera Tirinese and Verbicaro, the Settenali rites of Guardia Sanframondi, the serpari of Cocullo and many others. Enzo harnessed a 16mm camera, an Arriflex owned by the Cine Club. Mazzeo's first images (those in this excerpt) were shot in Salento, in Galatina, on 29 June 1970, the day of Saints Peter and Paul, patron saints of the Apulian town, who - as tradition has it - gave the people of Galatina the power to heal from tarantula bites. In those days of procession and popular festivity, therefore, the tarantulas, women afflicted by the bite, flock in (male tarantulas are very rare cases, documented by Mazzeo himself). Mazzeo sets up on the same balcony from which the documentary filmmaker Gianfranco Mingozzi filmed years earlier, following Ernesto De Martino. He films from above to avoid the throwing of shoes, stones, insults. Relatives of people considered sick do not want to be filmed at the entrance to the chapel of San Paolo. For them, as Mazzeo recalls, that moment is private. At the chapel, relatives bring the sick, sheets are spread on the floor, the sick shake their robes, sometimes beat their husbands. Hoping that the ritual will be effective, the men watch impassively and respectfully, strictly dressed in white, so as not to upset the sick who, recognising in the dress the colour of the taranta's belly, might attack some wretch. Filming and photographing from the street is more difficult, but the two friends do not give up, they take courage and happen to take insults. Mazzeo and Mazzacane would return to Galatina the following years, collecting many images, for their project 'Miseria e follia' (Misery and Madness), which would never become a film, as they had initially wished (a book of the same name would come out, however, containing printed stills). Another Galatinese tradition, if you like, another recipe against the bite of the evil of living, is the 'pasticciotto', a typical cake born in the 18th century at the old Ascalone pastry shop, which stands right next to the chapel of San Paolo, inside which the rites for curing the tarantulas take place - away from prying eyes.