DCP. Col. (from a tinted nitrate print).

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

A remarkable recording of the 17th Congress of the Italian Socialist Party, which in January of 1921 led to the party’s division and the creation of the Communist Party of Italy. The film, without any indication of a director or producer, shows some of the important figures who participated in the event (such as Filippo Turati, Umberto Terracini, Amadeo Bordiga, Elia Musatti, Emanuele Modigliani, the brother of the painter Amedeo, Argentina Altobelli) and the diverse points of view that animated the tumultuous week. The narrative ends with a red flag and hope for a bright future. But the wind had already changed direction: at the elections held the following year Mussolini was the third most voted deputy in Italy and the March on Rome loomed on the horizon.

From the title alone we can see that it is a film that attempts the impossible. How to give voice to all the different ideas expressed at the congress with a medium – silent film – that could not yet record spoken word? And how to film all the participants in a poorly lit theatre? Today there are very specific political programming rules for television, but in 1921 how could they possibly show the various arguments, condensing a week of debate into half an hour? The film invents a way (filming outside the theatre, an intertitle for each speaker) that, albeit distorting the outcome of the congress (the hushed-up schism), documents the variety of positions in a nutshell. According to research by Silvio Alovisio and Luca Mazzei, the filming was the work of Silvio Laurenti Rosa who, in a letter published in 1927 in the Bologna magazine “L’Eco del Cinema”, talks about how the film was not presented to the censorship board because ‘it was screened only privately as the party’s leadership believed by doing so, with that film, it would have avoided the rift and destruction created by the communists at the Livorno Congress’. Fun fact: among the parliament members filmed is Francesco Misiano who, in 1924, founded Mezrabpom in Moscow, which under his direction produced films by Pudovkin, Protazanov, Ekk and distributed Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin in Germany.

Gian Luca Farinelli

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Restored in 2020 by Cineteca di Bologna at L‘Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. Special thanks to Cecilia Mangini