A preview screening with Father Nicosia of our documentary about his life
When we visited Father Nicosia on 6th of April 2015 for his 100th birthday celebration, held at the Salesian House (located in Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong), he was in very good shape and enjoyed his meal, a slice of birthday cake and some wine. The atmosphere was cheerful and all the people who joined the party surrounded him affectionately and wished him well.
Father Nicosia has now moved from ‘St. Mary’s Home for the Aged’, Aberdeen district, to the Salesian House, and he is being taken care of by the missionaries. It is there, that the B39 team and a small group of friends met him again, on 15th of September. Nicosia was in the company of Cardinal Zen, Father Fedrigotti and some young Salesians. The reason for the visit was the preview screening of the documentary about his life, titled: “Father Gaetano Nicosia: The Angel of the Lepers”.
We were very eager to present him with this ‘gift’. Father Nicosia watched the whole documentary with great attention, although his eyesight and his hearing have been lately deteriorating.
The documentary explores his humble origins and the journey that started from Sicily and brought him to Hong Kong in 1935, and then Macau. Nicosia explains, in the movie, that his vocation was to become a Salesian missionary, ready to help people most in need. In particular, he had the wish to dedicate his life to the lepers, and Macau’s Ka Ho village became his destination.
Unique images of life as it was in old Sicily and old Hong Kong enrich the documentary and recreate the special atmosphere of the time.
Nicosia explains how daily life was very difficult in Ka Ho, when he arrived, and so much work had to be done. He wished to not only help and support the lepers, but also to reintegrate them into society, once healed from the illness. For this reason, the village of Ka Ho became a self-sufficient reality, where duties – like cultivating the fields, celebrating festivities, attending the Mass – would keep people busy. On top of taking care of the village, Nicosia also carried out other important projects that led – among others – to the construction of a school and a hospital for disabled people in Macau.
At the end of the screening, I asked Nicosia for his impression on the documentary. While gladly sipping some ‘Amaretto di Saronno’ liquor and eating biscuits, he told me, with his usual modesty: ‘Bello, bello. Ma io non c’entro!’, meaning: ‘It is good, good. But (what happened there) it is not because of me!’
Nicosia’s achievements are very valuable, and this documentary aims at narrating the story of a special and unassuming man. We are confident that this short movie will be screened outside Hong Kong and Italy as well, so that this remarkable ‘story’ will be able to travel across boundaries.
We are sincerely grateful to all donors who crowdfunded the project, believing in it. Many thanks to the whole B39 team, to Tim O’Connell for lending us his ‘smooth’ voice, and all other contributors too. A very special acknowledgement goes to Fabrizio Bestoso, our ‘deus ex machina’, who put all these images, ideas and thoughts relentlessly and effectively together, to create a product we are truly proud of.
We are planning an official screening of the documentary in November 2015, and we will duly inform you on date, time and location. We hope to see many of you on this unique occasion. In the meantime, we thank you again for your unfaltering support.