Spring is here and there is feverish activity in the kitchen of the 32nd edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato!
We are preparing a lavish eight-day banquet (+ one!) to try and make Bologna more beautiful, the programme more enjoyable, exciting, impossible, or, to use Peter von Bagh’s favourite adjective, sublime. In keeping with the best tradition, the house will be offering known and unknown dishes, the former made according to different recipes, the latter revealing surprising and delightful flavours.
Also this year, the programme will revolve – in a wider and deeper way – around a time and space machine: taking us from 1898 to now; from China, Africa, Latin America to Europe and the United States.
While our screen in Piazza Maggiore will already be lit by mid-June, the festival kicks off on Saturday 23rd June at 2.30pm and will run through Saturday 31st. There will be a whole day of repeat screenings only on Sunday 1st July at the Arlecchino Theatre, a relaxed farewell, and a chance to catch up with friends and films that may have been missed during the week. And of course a chance to enjoy one last evening in Piazza Maggiore.
We also have some exciting news to share with you. In the last few years, the festival has been growing, welcoming a vastly increasing, international and plural audience. We felt it was time to place this complex entity under the direction of a team which, from this year, will include four people of different generations, education and background, with different approaches and skills – all of whom have enjoyed a close relationship with Il Cinema Ritrovato and its history. Four directors to have a shared and better understanding of what the festival is and will be. Cecilia Cenciarelli, Gian Luca Farinelli, Ehsan Khoshbakht and Mariann Lewinsky will continue to receive suggestions and support from the Scientific board as well as the Programming board.
Here is a taste of some of our main programmes which we hope (and count on!) will make you want to book your flight to Bologna straight way. More details will be provided in the following newsletters.
Portrait of Marcello Mastroianni
There are actors who, throughout their careers and their roles, shape for themselves a multi-faceted, indefinable personality, while others are faithful to their character from their first to their last film. And then, there’s Marcello Mastroianni. A one-of-a-kind performer, who was able to display a wealth of qualities and features that are hard to combine: a great actor and an icon, embodying at once elegance, empathy, sensitivity and light-hearted disenchantment. In line with the festival’s tradition, this programme will present eight titles from across Mastroianni’s extraordinary career: from Giuseppe De Santis’ Giorni d’amore, which won him his career launching Best Actor award; to his great success with Alessandro Blasetti’s popular comedy Peccato che sia una canaglia (“in those years I was still a taxi driver”); and his life-changing encounter with Federico Fellini and the international sets who allowed him to leave Rome behind and become unreachable… The programme will include his testament film, a true gem, Mi ricordo, sì, io mi ricordo, directed in 1997 by Anna Maria Tatò.
Programme curated by Emiliano Morreale and Gian Luca Farinelli
Photo: Sofia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in La fortuna di essere donna by Alessandro Blasetti (1953)
William Fox presents: Rediscoveries from the Fox Film Corporation
Founded in 1915 by the self-educated entrepreneur William Fox, the Fox Film Corporation became home to the most dazzling line-up of directorial talent in the studio era. As silent film transitioned into sound – the period that is the focus of this programme – the Fox directors included Frank Borzage, Allan Dwan, John Ford, Howard Hawks, William K. Howard, Henry King, William Cameron Menzies, F. W. Murnau, Alfred Santell, Raoul Walsh and many other important filmmakers. Yet this legacy was almost lost when a 1937 vault fire at Fox’s New Jersey storage facility destroyed all of the Fox Film negatives and most of the positive prints. That any of the Fox Film inventory survives today is largely thanks to Eileen Bowser of the Museum of Modern Art, who worked with the producer Alex Gordon to rescue the nitrate work prints and reference copies stored at the studio in Los Angeles. This programme presents recent restorations from the Fox Film collection by the Museum of Modern Art and the UCLA Film and Television Archive, including exceedingly rare films by Ford, King and Walsh; a pair of unseen early Spencer Tracy gangster films, and a new digital transfer of Frank Borzage’s 1927 masterpiece 7th Heaven. The latter will be presented in Piazza Maggiore accompanied by a brand new original score by Timothy Brock, commissioned by the Orchestre Philarmonique de Radio France and performed live by the Bologna Opera House Orchestra.
Programme curated by Dave Kehr
Photo: Italian poster of 7th Heaven by Frank Borzage (1927, coll. Dave Kehr)
Luciano Emmer 100: the Art of Gazing
Labelled a ‘pink neorealist’ along with other filmmakers of the 1950s, Luciano Emmer made several inventive and original movies that helped redefine the aesthetic tenets of Italian cinema. Placed chronologically after Neorealism and before commedia all’italiana, Emmer’s works occupy a space of their own and possess great attention to detail and ambience. He was the voice of young characters and social groups in transition at the threshold of modernity, often setting his stories in Rome, which he captured in a lively perspective. Emmer, however, is perhaps best known as an important figure in documentary film history and the inventor of art documentaries. Through expert use of sound and image, he created films that transformed works by great artists into stories, from Giotto to Goya.
Programme curated by Emiliano Morreale
Photo: Camilla by Luciano Emmer (1954)
Immortal Imitations: The Cinema of John M. Stahl
Concealed identities, troubled yet enduring love affairs, tragic destinies assuaged by altruism and sacrifice… The films of John M. Stahl treat familiar subjects and themes with a striking sense of fluency and directness. Favouring a certain bareness and modernity in both feeling and style, Stahl’s work has proved to have a lasting emotional power despite earlier critical neglect. In collaboration with the Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Il Cinema Ritrovato revisits the work of this master of melodrama, and one of American cinema’s unsung auteurs. The silent The Woman Under Oath (1919) will be screened in Bologna as preview for the large retrospective in Pordenone, which will include the majority of Stahl’s surviving silents (1917-27). Our overview of Stahl’s career during the sound years, noted for its ‘audacity’ by critic Andrew Sarris, covers both his features made for Universal Pictures, as well as lesser known but equally captivating films made for 20th Century Fox. In both cases one discovers many shades in the work of a single artist, from bright and comic to dark and fatalistic.
Programme curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht
Photo: Leave Her to Heaven by John M. Stahl (1943)
Arrigo Frusta and the Writing Workshop
In the effervescent Turin of the 1910s, Arrigo Frusta (1875-1965), born Augusto Sebastiano Ferraris, was the director of Ambrosio’s “Screenplay Office”. An eclectic figure, Frusta was an intellectual, a bon vivant, a would-be notary and a journalist by vocation. The nascent film industry won him over with its new technology and the monthly salary of 300 lire that working for a movie company could guarantee him. Schiller, Virgil, Balzac, D’Annunzio and Shakespeare, no adaptation was too mighty for Frusta’s pen. With over 250 screenplays and scenarios, he made a decisive contribution to establishing the practice of writing for cinema during the crucial years of the advent of feature film. This year Il Cinema Ritrovato is offering a sneak peek into the world of stories that this prolific screenwriter created, starting with a restored version of Nerone (1909). Peopled by emperors and Risorgimento martyrs, romantic heroines and amazons, psychopathic killers and depressed fairy-tale princes, Frusta’s universe provides a kaleidoscopic view of Italian silent film.
Programme curated by Claudia Gianetto, Stella Dagna and Andrea Meneghelli
Photo: Arrigo Frusta as Napoleon in Il granatiere Roland by Luigi Maggi (1911, coll. Museo Nazionale del Cinema)
The Woman with the Kinamo: Ella Bergmann-Michel
Ella Bergmann-Michel (1895-1971), a German pre-Bauhaus visual artist who mainly worked with collage and photography, has also made several films, precious elements of a career marked by innovations and progressive ideas. Linked to the ideas of Film League and New Architecture, Bergmann-Michel defined the genre of the advertisement film with Wo wohnen alte Leute (Where Old People Live, 1931), she enhanced the crowdfunding campaign for unemployment kitchens with her film Erwerbslose kochen für Erwerbslose (Unemployed Are Cooking for the Unemployed, 1932) while the fragments of her last work, Wahlkkampf (Election Campaign, 1932), gives us a striking observation of the election campaign of 1932 on the streets of Frankfurt.
Programme curated by Madeleine Bernstorff
Photo: Ella Bergmann-Michel (@ Sünke Michel)
… also more discoveries from around the world:
Song of Naples. Tribute to Elvira Notari and Vittorio Martinelli
by Elena Correra and Mariann Lewinsky with Kinothek Asta Nielsen
The Rebirth of Chinese Cinema after the War (Changchun, Shanghai, Hong Kong 1946-1950)
by Marie Claire Kuo in collaboration with Tony Rayns
Second Utopia: 1934, The Golden Age of Soviet Sound Film
by Peter Bagrov
Yilmaz Güney, Despairs of Hope
by Ahmet Gurata
Marcello Pagliero, the Italian of Saint-Germain-des-Prés
by Jean Gili
Cécile Decugis, editor and filmmaker
by Garance Decugis and Bernard Eisenschitz
…as well as our classic programmes:
Recovered & Restored
1898: Year Three of Cinematography
One Hundred years Ago: 1918
In Search of Color
Documents and Documentaries
The Keaton Project
Around The World Cinema Project
Il Cinema Ritrovato Kids
… and also lectures, restoration case-studies, the FIAF restoration Summer School, Il Cinema Ritrovato DVD Awards (15th edition), the book fair and many special guests… For all of this and much more, stay tuned for our next newsletter!
We look forward to seeing you in Bologna
Gian Luca Farinelli, Mariann Lewinsky, Cecilia Cenciarelli and Ehsan Khoshbakht
Directors of Il Cinema Ritrovato