Soaked to the skin, Costantino sinks into the haystack like old timber left on the shore by a stormy sea. Torrential rain has just put out the fire that in a single night ravaged Assandira, a farmstay deep in the woods of Sardinia. But the rain hasn't quenched the pain, the endless remorse for the son lost to the flames, the son he was unable to save. The first to arrive are the carabinieri and the young investigating magistrate: Costantino tries to tell them what happened the previous night, to explain how it all began …

Director's Statement

Traces of one’s self may be found almost in every tale, even when it is told by someone else. How many times, on reading a book, watching a film, listening to a story or being the involuntary witnesses of a fact, have we felt that we experienced or envisaged it? And starting off from one’s self, even when the pretext is provided by others, is always the surest way to achieve an aim.

A few years ago, upon reading Giulio Angioni’s "Assandira", I had that same feeling. I was feeling a sensation of frustration and indignation regarding the depiction of the world I belong to: a rural Sardinia, being massacred by the tourist industry, by the idea that it is possible to override anything in the name of easy money, even people’s dignity. That was the initial incentive which drove me to undertake this adventure. But this is just the outer aspect in ASSANDIRA, the sociological part, so to speak. A hidden part which may refer to our private self is never missing within a story, and more than we are willing to admit, attracting us even further, because telling it helps us to make order within our own selves.

Admitting this also signifies feeling utmost consideration for the spectator, whom we shall no longer treat as a stranger to fling a few hours of basic entertainment to, but as someone to elect for listening to our own private sphere.

ASSANDIRA is an itinerary within an understanding of human nature, an attempt to explore the most hidden, silent feelings, which nevertheless end up by moving things and people even when kept at bay.
Who is Mario and Grete in reality, what binds them so profoundly, in spite of their façades?

Is Grete really dominating Mario or is it the other way round? And is Costantino just the noble savage, used as a fairground freak to indulge tourists?

Facts get piled up and confused in his memories, until they lose their straightforwardness. Is he the eyewitness speaking of what took place, or a man pervaded by a sense of guilt?

We shall never know. However, we do know that human nature is the greatest resource for telling a story, even despite the plot, which is an old tool one may only stumble upon.

Director's Biography

Salvatore Mereu was born in Dorgali on 17 March 1965. With his first full-length film, BALLO A TRE PASSI (2003), he began exploring the relationship between tradition and modernity in his native Sardinia, winning the Venice Critics’Week and taking home both the David di Donatello and Ciak d’Oro as the best upcoming director. His second film, SONETÁULA (2008), was screened in the Panorama section of the Berlinale, and went on to win the Foreign Press Golden Globe and the Biarritz Festival FIPA d’Or for best screenplay.
He returned to the Venice Film Festival in 2010 with TAJABONE, then to the festival’s 2012 Orizzonti section with BELLAS MARIPOSAS, which won the Schermi di Qualità award and ultimately also the Rotterdam Big Screen Award.


Cast & Crew

Directed by: Salvatore Mereu

Written by: Salvatore Mereu

Produced by: Elisabetta Soddu, Salvatore Mereu

Cinematography: Sandro Chessa

Editing: Paola Freddi

Production Design: Marianna Sciveres

Costume Design: Salvatore Aresu

Make-Up & Hair: Maria Pilo

Sound: Vincenzo Santo, Corrado Riccomini

Casting: Rossana Patricelli

Cast: Gavino Ledda (Costantino Saru), Anna König (Grete), Marco Zucca (Mario), Corrado Giannetti (judge Pestis), Samuele Mei (Peppe Bellu), Pierluigi Riccio (Professor Riccio), Alessandro Pala (sergeant)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2021