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All the Town’s a Stage: Embedded with the Filmmakers of ‘Spettacolo’

"At its most basic level, this film is a chance for the audience to go on a journey to a place they've never been to before," say documentarians Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen.

“At its most basic level, this film is a chance for the audience to go on a journey to a place they’ve never been to before,” explain documentarians Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen about their film Spettacolo. “But our real hope with this film is that it’s able to pull us all out of our mad scramble into the future and, if even for just 90 minutes, remind us of the value of culture, genuine community engagement and everything else we’re leaving behind as we all move forward.”

The documentary traces the history of Teatro Povero, a performing arts theater in the tiny town of Monticchiello, Italy. Each summer for the past 50 years, the residents of Monticchiello transform their lives into a play. Their piazza becomes their stage and villagers of all ages play a part in the production, playing the roles of themselves.

“The experience was utterly unique,” Malmberg and Shellen say of the film’s production. “We started the process as the ultimate outsiders—two people from Los Angeles who barely spoke a word of Italian when we arrived.

The film’s directors, Chris Shellen and Jeff Malmberg, speak to Andrea Cresti, who has devoted his life to helping people in his village tell their stories.

“Gradually we began to realize how connected our stories are, and how many of Monticchielloʼs fears and experiences we all share. Five years later, this film has become a collaboration with a group of people we both admire and love.”

The documentary itself is wonderful, and it reminds audiences about the importance of forging and sustaining connections in the world. It’s something we should all take to heart—as creators and as human beings.

To read more about the film’s production, visit

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