Here are some more reflections on the work of the amazing Detective Montalbano director, Alberto Sironi, who died yesterday at the age of 79. His colleagues all say the same thing – he was the engine behind the Montalbano films and affected cast and crew with his beautiful spirit.

Alberto Sironi (1940 - 2019)

The world of Italian television received a hard blow today with the death of Alberto Sironi. He was the sole director of all 34 Detective Montalbano movies. His exit comes on the heels of the death of Andrea Camilleri, author of the Commisario Montalbano crime novels and short stories and co-writer for the TV series. Camilleri was 93 when he died three weeks ago. Alberto Sironi was 79. Specifically, he turned 79 today – because today (August 5) was also his birthday.

Alberto Sironi was more than a name on a screen to us – my colleague Chris Arth and I had the opportunity to shoot behind-the-scenes interviews with the Detective Montalbano cast and crew in June 2012. Alberto could not have been more welcoming – and at one point he admonished everyone within hearing distance on set that they should also welcome us. ‘Embrace them’ was what he said in Italian. He was 72 then, brimming with energy. There was no fat on the man – he had the physique of a high school runner and seemed an ideal director. Calm, focused, friendly, organized… he clearly knew what he wanted and got it out of his cast. And to a person, everyone spoke of the warm atmosphere he cultivated on set and his impeccable eye for detail.

Alberto spoke with us about the series’ beginnings and the back-and-forth with RAI to get approval for production. He insisted on authenticity and launched extensive talent and location searches in Sicily. A great stroke of fortune happened when the producer, Carlo Degli Esposti gave him the gift of assigning production designer Luciano Ricceri to the project. Ricceri’s daughter Eugenia was a production assistant on the set that year, and translated for us off camera. That’s who he’s referring to at the end of this clip below.

After a day of shooting, I mentioned the enthusiasm of Detective Montalbano fans in the US. “We love the films, and can watch them over and over. Seeing the episodes is like reuniting with old friends,” I told him. He practically fell off his chair when he heard that. His amazement wasn’t about the sheer success of Detective Montalbano with Americans. It was the idea of connecting across cultures, of creating films that spoke to people who weren’t Sicilian or even Italian.

Alberto, the world is going to miss you. Thank you for creating a timeless body of work that still shocks the eye with its beauty. You brought Sicily to all of us. You were beloved, and you were the best.

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