Sacred Mountains
project name

Sacred Mountains

Abrahamic Religions and Musical Practices in the Mediterranean Area


A documentary by Nicola Scaldaferri

LEAV, 2017, 38′

Camera and sound recording by Nicola Scaldaferri, editing by Lorenzo Pisanello and Nicola Scaldaferri.

Kiryat Luza and Mount Gerizim (West Bank), June 2010; the research for the opera Samaritans by Yuval Avital

Kulmak and Mount Tomorr (Albania), August 2011

Sacred Mount of Viggiano (Italy), September 2011



Review by Diego Pani (Visual Ethnography, 7/1, 2018, pp. 172-175)


The documentary is devoted to three pilgrimages of the three Abrahamic Religions. The aim is to explore the role of music practices as a way of prayer and participation, and the importance of the sound in shaping and giving meaning to the places. The method used was to film and record sound in first person, in order to reflect the participatory experience of the author; the aim was to build a story, using the musical practices and the sound as a part of the narration, without voiceover, and giving information and translations in the captions.

The documentary includes three episodes, each devoted to a different event, following the usual moments of a pilgrimage.

1. The ascent

On the occasion of Shavuot, the Israelite Samaritans go to pray on Mount Gerizim, in the West Bank, where their sacred places are located.

2. The feast

On August, members of the brotherhood of the Bektashi climb Mount Tomorr, in Albanian, where they pray near the tombs of dede, and practice the kurban (the killing of a sheep whose meat is consumed by each family).

3. The descent

In early September, the miraculous statue of the Black Madonna of Viggiano, Queen of Lucania, in Italy, ‘descends’ into the village for a festival.



Sacred Mountains (2017) – Official Trailer from Leav Unimi on Vimeo.