Mario Fantin

Prod.: Ursula Film. DCP. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Mario Fantin was born and raised in Bologna, just over 50 metres above sea level. After having fought in World War II (sub-lieutenant in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro) and as a partisan in the Garibaldi Brigades, and with an accounting school diploma under his belt, he chose a profession that did not yet exist: explorer with a movie camera. And he climbed as high as possible. Fantin started with the Alps, joining the most adventurous expeditions around the world, with the idea of coming back home to let audiences experience them cinematically. His most famous endeavour was the Italian summiting of K2 in 1954: Fantin made it to 6,000 metres, and his images were incorporated in Marcello Baldi’s film Italia K2 (Fantin is mentioned in the opening credits simply for “cinematographic documentation”, which does not do justice to his role in the film’s creation).

Fantin often followed Guido Monzino, one of the greatest explorers of the 20th century, and brought his 16mm movie camera on over 30 expeditions outside of Europe, making it as far as the Peruvian Andes, Kilimanjaro, Cordillera Paine, Greenland, Tibesti, West Africa… On each occasion, he combined the tenacity and curiosity of a reporter with the ecstasy of someone whose eyes are full of impossible views of the world. That was until he decided that the world could also be explored from inside the walls of his apartment in Bologna. In 1967, he founded CISDAE (Centro Italiano Studio Documentazione Alpinismo Extrauropeo) and began gathering what would become an overwhelmingly massive collection, today at the CAI (Club Alpino Italiano): tens of thousands of pictures, maps, records, data and various documentation intended to preserve knowledge of that magnificent ball of rock called Earth. Fantin’s story is the subject of a film by Mario Bartoli, Il mondo in camera, currently being finished.

Fantin took his own life in 1980, practically forgotten. A bitter and ironic destiny for one of the many people who have dedicated their lives to preserving the past. In partnership with FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano, the owner of the Monzino Collection) and the Museo Nazionale della Montagna “Duca degli Abruzzi” – CAI Turin (owner of the Fantin Archive), Cineteca di Bologna has undertaken an important project to restore Fantin’s films. This selection is a first tribute, a taste of the vast journey of discovery and exploration to come, which we are already excited about.

With Preludio alpino al K2 we see the preparation for the Italian expedition to the second highest peak in the world. The men who would make history meet on Plateau Rosa, to work together among those spectacular peaks. It was also a dress rehearsal for Fantin, who had never ventured so high up with a movie camera. Costa d’Avorio immerses us in an entirely different scenario and gives us an up-close look at another one of Fantin’s interests: ethnography, which here focuses on ritual dances encountered in each village (the expedition was funded by Augusto Fantoni, the Italian king of spring mattresses). We climb again to high altitudes with breathtaking landscapes in Yucay, montagna degli Incas (11 summits over 5,000 metres high in southern Peru, an expedition organized by the CAI of Como) and Kilimandjaro, monarca africano (following Guido Monzino). We are presenting a few unfinished excerpts from the restoration of these two films.

Andrea Meneghelli

Copy From

Restored in 2021 by Cineteca di Bologna with the support of Ministero della Cultura at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in collaboration with Museo Nazionale della Montagna “Duca degli Abruzzi” – CAI Torino from a positive 16mm print