Running Time: 74 minutes
Languages: English and Italian
Format: Full HD 1,77:1
Directed by: Sarah Marder and OLO creative farm
Produced by: OLO creative farm
Edited by: Max de Ponti, Nicole Cardin, Sarah Marder
Original music: Miriam Cutler
Location: Cortona, Italy

photo by Duilio Peruzzi

photo by Duilio Peruzzi


Few aspects of our lives are as all-encompassing and vital to our well-being as the health of our surroundings.

Ancient Romans, aware of this profound interrelation between man and place, used the term genius loci to pay homage to the ineffable characteristics, strengths and vulnerabilities of a given spot.

The Genius of a Place is filmed in Cortona, one of those Italian towns where sensitivity for the land has been handed down from one generation to another for thousands of years. The population had a deep knowledge of the symbiotic relationship between themselves and their place.

But starting with the post WWII era, the forces of globalization began to sever this respectful relationship. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Italian countrysides emptied as many people left the fields to seek work and a new way of life in the city. This left the area semi-abandoned demographically and weakened economically.

Over the last fifteen years, though, Cortona has benefitted from a touristic boom. Along with a revived economy have come too many cars, too much trash and too many demands on the limited water supply. Most stores have begun to cater to the tastes of tourists and no longer satisfy residents’ daily needs.

A decline in quality of life combined with high real estate prices have tempted many locals to sell and move away. Moreover young people no longer want to farm the land.

Today, in the face of shifting values and tumultuous change, residents wonder how they can possibly safeguard what was so lovingly bequeathed to them by their ancestors.

In a poignant, thought-provoking and uplifting story filmed over a period of five years, the people of Cortona reawaken our instinctive connection to our life-sustaining environs and inspire us to discover and protect the “genius” of our own little corner of the world, wherever that may be.


This documentary film helps us see the "genius" of the places around us: their strengths, their difficulties, their hopes.

It's a film recommended for anybody that has at least one place of the heart.

Read more >


Our relationships with others contributes to our affection for our places. Watching this film together with others enhances the experience, creating an occasion for sharing thoughts, ideas and reflections.

Discover how >

“Communities around the world are re-discovering
their souls, and it’s exciting” [Fred Kent]

©  Video production | OLO 2017 The Genius of a Place - All Rights Reserved

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