Cecilia Cenciarelli, Gian Luca Farinelli, Ehsan Khoshbakht, Mariann Lewinsky

A festival for all

Let’s start with the numbers. They give an idea of the extent to which Il Cinema Ritrovato constitutes an exception among the panorama of festivals and cultural events. The 2024 edition will last for 9 days but there will be 20 days of evening screenings in Piazza Maggiore. Between features, shorts and scopitones, we will present 480 films produced in 35 countries and sourced from more than 140 archives and lenders. This is a colossal effort, made possible by 4 directors and 12 curators responsible for the 16 different sections that comprise the programme, plus a team of 81 professionals from the Cineteca and the Modernissimo, who work all year long, 110 collaborators and more than 300 volunteers who contribute in the months leading up to the festival.
Last year we welcomed more than 5,000 pass holders from 51 different countries and over 12,000 spectators enjoyed 280 individual screenings. This year, with the addition of the Modernissimo, we expect even more amazing numbers. Are we exaggerating? Not at all. We know the programme and we know that cinephiles will come from around the world to bask in the beauty of the seventh art and of the recovered cinema.

A Festival Full of Music

It is true that cinema is the art of reproduction, but habitués of Il Cinema Ritrovato know – and perhaps this is why they come – that cinema can also be performance art. Piazza Maggiore is a unique place, where every evening a miracle happens that defies rational explanation, belonging more to magic than to logic. This space, which achieved its current architectural splendour about five centuries ago, transforms into the world’s most beautiful cinema, uniting the local Bolognese community with international cinephiles. This speaks volumes about the timeless and inscrutable power of art and beauty.
Now, let’s delve into the programme. Rare and precious screenings are the order of the day, with the Academy archive bringing vintage Technicolor prints (some of them showing signs of wear-and-tear) of four classic films. Just as rare and precious – or maybe even more so – are the restored 70mm copies of two cinematic landmarks often listed among the ten most loved films: The Searchers and North by Northwest. These films were conceived in VistaVision to match the grandeur of their creators’ visions.
At Il Cinema Ritrovato, the Lumières’ invention is transformed into performance art, because all silent films are accompanied live by pianists, small ensembles and large orchestras, at Lumière, Piazzetta Pasolini and Modernissimo. This year, Piazza Maggiore will host four concerts: My Cousin, the only surviving film starring Enrico Caruso, with a sequence featuring the great tenor’s voice and a new score by Maestro Daniele Furlati, performed by the ensemble of Teatro Comunale of Modena; My Grandmother (Chemi bebia), an underground masterpiece of Georgian cinema by Kote Mikaberidze, accompanied by the Finnish trio Cleaning Women with an explosive soundtrack; the premiere of MoMA’s new restoration of Victor Sjöström’s The Wind to the music of a famous composition by Carl Davis performed by the orchestra of the Conservatorio G.B. Martini of Bologna, conducted by Timothy Brock. Brock will also conduct the Orchestra of the Teatro Comunale of Bologna, performing Nino Rota’s iconic music for Federico Fellini’s Amarcord.
Among the many concerts, we have to mention Silent Trilogy (Mykkätrilogia), a trilogy of silent short films by the director of Compartment No. 6 Juho Kuosmanen, accompanied live by Finnish musicians and a Foley artist. This event honours Peter von Bagh, who directed Il Cinema Ritrovato for over a decade, transforming it into what it is today. In Helsinki, Peter was Kuosmanen’s film teacher, and in 2012, Kuosmanen began creating the shorts that make up this unique contemporary silent cinema experience.
Il Cinema Ritrovato has always been a festival for the ears as well as the eyes. This year features audio delights such as 16 short films starring Duke Ellington and 14 musical shorts in the Women in Jazz programme from the Theo Zwicky Collection. The exciting and extensive “playlist” of Il Cinema Ritrovato 2024 includes highlights such as Marlene Dietrich, Leonard Cohen (McCabe & Mrs. Miller), Bob Dylan (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid), The Velvet Underground (Ich bin ein Elefant, Madame), Michel Legrand (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg), Ry Cooder (Paris, Texas), Ibrahim Ferrer and other Cuban maestros (Buena Vista Social Club) as well as, of course, Mozart with Miloš Forman’s Amadeus.

Female Cinema

It would be impossible to mention all the female stars of this year’s festival, but let’s start with two directors. The first is Assia Djebar, an Algerian author and poet, who directed the astonishing La Nouba des femmes du Mont Chenoua (The Nubah of the Women of Mount Chenoua), a very independent and personal work. The protagonist travels through the Berber Chenoua Mountain Range of her homeland in search of lost memory, interviewing local women who fought in the Algerian War of Independence. It is a feminist film – winner of the Fipresci Prize at the Venice International Film Festival 1978 – that mixes Arabic music with that of Béla Bartók, who visited Algeria in 1913 to study its folk music.
Ester Krumbachová’s Murdering the Devil (Vražda ing. Čerta) is a visually sumptuous work of total artistic freedom, and it represents both the beginning and the end of the directorial career of this screenwriter and costume designer, a “renaissance” woman who collaborated on many politically “difficult” films of the Czech New Wave, which at the time experienced the gradual shrinking of its space and freedom of expression. Although the film was deemed fit for theatrical release by the censors in September 1970, it remained Krumbachová’s only directorial effort.
At the heart of Il Cinema Ritrovato 2024 lies Her. Graced with extraordinary beauty, allure and acting talent, Marlene Dietrich is so much more than a diva, she is one of the 20th century’s greatest female figures. To quote her, one need only mention her first name; if it is generally true that cinema has encouraged humanity to move toward a society that is less plagued by rules and norms, Marlene, personally and professionally, made a decisive contribution, living an openly bisexual life while portraying free and emancipated women. Despite being the voice and symbol of Germany, she did not hesitate to support the US war effort against Nazism and, during the postwar period, toured and performed concerts in Israel, Russia and Eastern Europe to promote peace and dialogue. At almost 50 years since her final performance she remains a queer icon, with the same unshakable aura of mysterious stardom; in addition to her films, we also recommend watching, or rewatching, the fine Maximilian Schell documentary in which Marlene, not wanting to be photographed, permits herself the liberty of answering hardly any questions!
Who knows if Dietrich would have appreciated being, in this edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato, lined up alongside such a diverse figure as Delphine Seyrig. “Madame Tabard isn’t a woman, she is an apparition,” affirms Jean-Pierre Léaud in Stolen Kisses (Baisers volés), referring to Seyrig, who went from being a glamour icon of arthouse cinema to working with directors such as Marguerite Duras, Chantal Akerman and Liliane de Kermadec, before stepping behind the lens to direct the still relatively unknown masterpiece of feminist cinema Sois belle et tais-toi!, which documents how, in 1976, film production continued to offer actresses nothing but stereotypical and alienating roles.
Seyrig’s greatest strength was the allure of her voice, and another extraordinary voice is that belonging to Nora Aunor, the star of Lino Brocka’s dazzling drama Bona. Aunor is an actress and, above all, a superstar of Philippine music, who has had an extraordinary career spanning more than 260 singles. On the subject of voices, male ones this time, we will be screening some of the screen tests for The Railroad Man (Il ferroviere), where Pietro Germi plays the role using his own voice, allowing us to glimpse how different the film would have been had he decided against having his character dubbed by the great Gualtiero De Angelis, the “Italian voice” of James Stewart and Cary Grant in that period.
Stephanie Rothman is best known for her work from the 1960s and 1970s, when she was one of the first female directors of the horror and exploitation genres, and one of the very few to have creative control over her films. This American auteur will be with us in Bologna for the screening of two of her sex comedies, Group Marriage and The Working Girls. In the words of Rothman herself: “They were the only films they would let me direct.” She did so by putting emancipated female characters who wanted to change the world at the centre of her stories.
Two directors we are paying homage to this year, Kozaburo Yoshimura and Gustaf Molander, could well be defined “actresses’ directors”. In the postwar period in Japan, Yoshimura directed a series of splendid female portraits, often entrusting the roles to great actresses such as Kinuyo Tanaka and Machiko Kyo (the unforgettable protagonist of Rashomon and Mizoguchi’s favoured actress). Molander had an extraordinary career bridging the silent and sound eras: he discovered Greta Garbo, directed Ingrid Bergman in six films and worked with Harriet Andersson a year before Summer with Monika.
Of the films by Anatole Litvak – a director who knew how to get the best out of great performers and portray complex male and female characters – we would especially like to draw your attention to Anastasia, which gave Ingrid Bergman her second Oscar, following her disgraceful – in the eyes of the American public – elopement with Rossellini. We are pleased to also remember Antonio Pietrangeli, whose portraits of females chronicled the lives of Italian women from the 1950s through to the 1970s. He does this admirably in La visita, featuring a sublime performance by Sandra Milo.
And last but by certainly no means least, one of the first female icons of cinema and of the 20th century, the fatally venomous Musidora. After playing Irma Vep in Les Vampires, she then became Diana Monti in Judex – this year’s film serial at Il Cinema Ritrovato – while losing nothing of her perfidious boyish charm.

Unique Films

Let’s draw a seemingly ill-considered parallel between two directors that appear distant from one another: Mihály Kertész, born in Budapest and emigrated to Hollywood in 1926 to become Michael Curtiz, and Marco Bellocchio, born in Bobbio and moved to Rome in his 20s to study at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. The first was a filmmaker whose career spanned the silent and sound eras and who contributed to the codification of the language of classic cinema. The second made his debut in the mid-1960s and together with Bernardo Bertolucci represented the vanguard of the Italian New Wave. And yet a link does exist: the longevity of their careers. Curtiz’s career began in 1912 and ended in 1962, while Bellocchio’s career began in 1965 and, after 60 years, is still going strong. Moreover, two of their films, The Last Dawn (Az utolsó hajnal, 1917) and Slap the Monster on Page One (Sbatti il mostro in prima pagina, 1972), although very different, share a commonality: they manage to capture the atmosphere of a certain place and time. In the Hungarian film (set in London, Paris and India, but all the locations were constructed in Budapest), unmistakable cultural elements of Middle Europe emerge with force; in the same way, Bellocchio provides us with a lively depiction of the social tensions and the sense of foreboding that characterised the early 1970s in Italy.
Miklós Jancsó’s approach on The Round-Up (Szegénylegények, 1966) is very different, and yet it provokes a similar feeling in the viewer: that the latent potential of cinema has yet to be explored. It is a feeling we also perceive when we encounter a début such as Carlos Saura’s The Delinquents (Los golfos), which was so new and out of the ordinary – in particular for Francoist Spain – that it was cut by the censor before its screening at Cannes and then further censored after the screening. Another debut work is Johnny Got His Gun, the only film directed by Dalton Trumbo, on whose 1939 novel the screenplay was based. Trumbo was a great screenwriter who was backed into a corner by McCarthyism, and the film is a disturbing analysis of the horrors of war, stupidity and the evil of human beings. A work to be watched time and again.
It’s not a debut work but it certainly is a unique film: Tod Browning’s Freaks has the distinction of showing audiences that which cinema had always kept hidden, that which society, for centuries, considered abnormal – human diversity at its fullest. It was a huge failure, but it was without doubt the most incredible film that MGM, in its long history – which began precisely 100 years ago with Victor Sjöström’s He Who Gets Slapped – ever produced.
Some of the other unique works we will be presenting are: Godzilla (Gojira), the monster-son of the atomic bomb, invented in 1954 by Ishiro Honda; the Alice Comedies, Walt and Roy Disney’s first successful series, which appeared in theatres in 1924; and the first feature-length animated sound film ever made for cinema, David Hand’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937, which still today leaves us astounded by the quality of the animation, the songs, the colours, and the creation of a world – the Disney universe – which was brought to life with this film and continues to flourish.
The films of Pietro Germi are unique, and they often caused controversy, ran afoul of the censor (Gioventù perduta), resulted in parliamentary debates (In nome della legge) or even led to changes in the law (Sedotta e abbandonata and Divorzio all’italiana), by helping to raise awareness and shift public opinion in Italy on such matters as divorce and “honour killings” (which numbered more than a thousand a year when Divorzio all’italiana was made).
It is unique, or certainly rare, to discover the great comic actor Fernandel in a black comedy such as Carlo Rim’s L’Armoire volante, to rediscover the luminous beauty of Jean Gabin as both master and prisoner of the casbah in Pépé le Moko, the shyness of Charles Aznavour in Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianist), François Truffaut’s second film, the unbridled and braggartly vitality of James Cagney in one of his most memorable performances in Raoul Walsh’s The Roaring Twenties.
Unique, on the other hand, for technical reasons is the copy of Surcouf, which Cinémathèque française will be presenting in Bologna; originally an eight-episode Luitz-Morat film serial from 1924 featuring actor Antonin Artaud, the copy we will be seeing is only 50 minutes long because it was an abbreviated version produced for the amatorial market. Quick and delightful, like reading War and Peace in less than an hour.
Unique for the fact that these films were started by one director but completed by another: The Wrestler and the Clown (Borec i kloun), started by Konstantin Judin in 1953 and, in accordance with his wishes, completed by Boris Barnet after his death; Flowers on the Stone (Cvetok na kamne), started by Anatolij Slesarenko but completed by Sergej Parajanov, because the director ordered his star actress Inna Burdučenko to run into a burning barn multiple times until she ended up getting fatally burnt. Slesarenko was sentenced to five years in prison and only Parajanov had the courage to take over the reins from him.
Devil’s Doorway is Anthony Mann’s debut western from 1950. It tells the story of a Native American who, after fighting for the Union in the Civil War, returns home only to discover he isn’t considered an American citizen. In protecting his community, he becomes ostracised and ends up paying with his life. Camp de Thiaroye is Ousmane Sembène and Thierno Faty Sow’s 1988 film recounting an episode that has been ignored by the official histories of the western world, that of a battalion of Senegalese infantrymen who return home at the end of the Second World War after having fought in the ranks of the French Army. Humiliated and mistreated by their fellow soldiers, instead of being rewarded they are massacred. Almost 40 years separate these two films, and yet, unfortunately, the story they tell is anything but unique.

Sources of Inspiration

Each film in the programme is unique, as is each director, with their own distinctive qualities, yet the connections and relationships between festival sections and individual works are evident and sometimes multi-layered. At the beginning of her career, one critic found Dietrich’s acting too similar to Garbo’s (“at the moment she is imitating Greta Garbo’s half-closed eyes and languorous eroticism”). Garbo herself had debuted in Gösta Berlings saga by Mauritz Stiller, at the suggestion of Gustaf Molander, then director of the Royal Dramatic Training Academy where Garbo was a student.
One of this year’s most surprising documentaries is Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger. In it, Martin Scorsese shares his personal, intimate and dynamic relationship with the great duo’s work, film by film. Perhaps the most moving moments are when Michael Powell visits the set of Raging Bull, with Scorsese having his photo taken alongside the maestro. Without Scorsese, Peeping Tom might have been forgotten. Initially massacred by critics, this apologue about cinema, the gaze and the difference between seeing and watching is presented here in a restored version.
Alexander Payne will join the audience of Modernissimo in Bologna to “rediscover” Marcel Pagnol’s Merlusse, the 1935 film that inspired his latest, most marvellous work The Holdovers. Meanwhile, Damien Chazelle will introduce the 60th-anniversary restoration of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg), which owes much to Singin’ in the Rain, presented here in a rare vintage Technicolor print. Sony Columbia celebrates its centenary with the restoration of Brian De Palma’s Body Double. Undoubtedly, De Palma is known for his inventions but also for his ability to reference other filmmakers in a most personal and exuberant way, from Hitchcock’s North by Northwest to The Conversation – yet another anniversary and another restoration premiering in Bologna – to F.W. Murnau. Speaking of Murnau, 2024 also marks the centenary of his last German film Der letzte Mann, evoked in Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days. In the section A Hundred Years Ago we discover that Alfred Hitchcock made it to Babelsberg just in time to see Murnau as he was filming, and he could not underline enough how much that film had influenced his own work.
As pointed out by the curators of the retrospective of Sergej Parajanov’s Ukrainian works, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood (Ivanovo detstvo, 1962) inspired the Armenian master’s poetic, personal, and independent cinema, capable of breathing new life into his country’s archaic visual force. When Tarkovsky later wrote a letter protesting against Parajanov’s imprisonment in the 1970s, he acknowledged that Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Tini zabutykh predkiv) was one of the two films that had changed cinema in the Soviet Union and the world.
Perhaps the key to understanding this edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato lies in the movement and migration of ideas, people and visual cultures. Parajanov, a Georgian-born ethnic Armenian who made films in Ukraine, exemplifies this. The same is true for Ukrainian-born Russian-Jewish Anatole Litvak who made films in Germany, France, Britain and the US from the 1920s to the 1970s, one of the most captivating cases of cross-pollination in the history of cinema. There are so few directors whose diverse background helped their understanding of 20th-century traumas. Litvak brilliantly navigated the ruins of revolutions and wars in search of meaning and light. Most of the films chosen for this long-awaited tribute to Litvak were made in Hollywood studios, but there are also restorations of his classics made in Germany and France.

Couples, Doubles, Multiples

Cinema is the art of us, of the individual who is multiplied. Would Marlene Dietrich have existed without Josef von Sternberg? The “Lubitsch touch” without the actors? If you don’t believe us, try to see one of the great character actor in the history of cinema, Felix Bressart, made famous by Ernst Lubitsch, in Nie wieder Liebe! (No More Love), the first film in the Litvak retrospective. Tilda Swinton, starring in The Protagonists, said that with Luca Guadagnino, here in his directorial debut, she felt like family: “We are brother and sister, playmates. Ours is an ongoing conversation.”
Even by following just one actor this year, you’ll witness a remarkable range: Emil Jannings, in 1924, is an exaggerated and decidedly over-the-top Nero in Quo vadis? by Gabriellino D’Annunzio, but he is also the doorman demoted to bathroom attendant in Murnau’s The Last Laugh. Then there are double roles in the same film that draw unforgettable performances from one of the greatest stage performers, Enrico Caruso in My Cousin, and of one of the most refined German actresses, Henny Porten, who plays two starkly different sisters in Lubitsch’s comedy Kohlhiesel’s Daughters (Kohlhiesels Töchter, 1920).
Many films this year explore the dynamics of couples: for example, The Sting would not have been memorable without the brilliant duo of Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Conversely, in The Body Snatcher, we encounter two beasts, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, slimier than ever, performing together for the last time in a deadly duel on screen. The collaboration between Kaneto Shindo and Kozaburo Yoshimura was so pivotal it led them to create a production company for making their most personal films. Similarly, Parajanov developed his distinctive style working with editor Marfa Ponomarenko, who worked side by side with him from Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors to his later films. We cannot but be amazed by the quality of Pietro Germi’s scripts, and not surprised that he co-wrote them with future colleagues and extraordinary screenwriters.
Let’s face it, the most famous couple in the history of cinema, will be at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2024: eight silent short films featuring Laurel & Hardy, their first pictures, which had been previously only seen in tattered prints, are now fully restored. Fans will delight in discovering the roots of their most famous gags, made in the absence of their voices – which later became a cornerstone of their comedy. They are the perfect duo, but even more so when James Finlayson appears!
For those seeking fresh discoveries, the couple to watch at the festival is in The Annihilation of Fish by Charles Burnett. He has just been released from a psychiatric institution, and she is arguing with her invisible partner, to whom she is officially engaged – the ghost of composer Giacomo Puccini…

New Frontiers

After all these years, have we Rediscovered Cinema? The answer is obvious: we’re still searching! The 2024 edition makes this abundantly clear, with sections such as Dark Heimat, which explores a genre usually considered minor but which actually contains the ghosts and the unspoken of post-Nazi Germany and Austria, Cinemalibero, and The Colours of Small Gauge Cinema, in which each film is a celebration, a surprise, the return of vanished works which, thanks to our festival, now begin a new life. So much has been achieved, but there is so much more to be done, as Leonor Areal’s documentary-essay Onde està o Pessoa? demonstrates clearly. For 63 minutes, it explores, investigates and analyses shot-by-shot a film made one Sunday afternoon in Lisbon in 1913, looking for the great Fernando Pessoa. It is like following an inquest; as we observe the images, it is as if we were there, among a group of intellectuals and artists. Suddenly, an anonymous image becomes eloquent and helps us to understand a historical moment, a decade, perhaps even a century. Finally, we are no longer looking, but seeing!
The two historical sections Century of Cinema and One Hundred Years Ago are not only like a travel agent who organises trips into the past, but also two research laboratories rich in new discoveries, an example of how you can work on materials conserved by – and continually being found in – archives. This is the case of the rediscovery of films shot by two Jesuits who, between September 1903 and April 1904, took photographs and filmed in Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon the places and people of the Bible. It is invaluable material documenting a land that today is riven by apparently never-ending war.
And so, alongside works by established masters, we learn that the only cameraman who managed to film the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was Alfred Dillimtash Brick, who in 1924 was part of the Fox newsreel New York team who started filming the Looney Lens series. Or we can see rare images of events from 100 years ago: Lenin’s funeral, news of the kidnapping and assassination of Giacomo Matteotti by Fascists, rare moving images of one of the most important classical ballerinas, Anna Pavlova, or… the inauguration of the Paris Olympics!
Perhaps the images with which we should start are contained in a documentary with a rather nondescript title, The Bus. They were shot by the activist Haskell Wexler, who went on to a glorious future as a director of photography (winning two Oscars); here he provides a platform to a group of anonymous citizens who, in August 1963, decided to cross the US to ask for equality and human rights for African Americans. We do not see the camera, just as we never see it in the documentaries of Lionel Rogosin; but we can never forget that which it allows us to see.

Il modernissimo...

During its first edition in 1996, Il Cinema Ritrovato took place in the auditorium of the Cineteca in via Pietralata. This year’s edition takes place in eight different cinemas (the two Cinema Lumière screens, DAMSLab, Cervi, and the Europa, Arlecchino, Jolly and Modernissimo cinemas) as well as in three open-air spaces (Piazza Maggiore, Arena Puccini and Piazzetta Pasolini). Each of these spaces showcases a specific part of the programme and has accompanied the growth of the event and contributed to its transformation. The Arlecchino permitted us to adequately project CinemaScope and large-scale restorations; the Jolly allowed us to broaden our programme and welcome a wider and more varied audience, which Piazza Maggiore subsequently increased; Piazzetta Pasolini permitted the rediscovery of an older form of projection utilising the magical light of a carbon arc lamp. Thirty-eight years later, having witnessed the opening of the Cine Doré of Madrid’s Filmoteca Española under Chema Prado and the Eden cinema at La Ciotat and having visited the magnificent cathedrals of cinema on Broadway in Los Angeles or the Castro in San Francisco (all now closed), we realised what the Piazza Maggiore screenings had been telling us: that there was a great desire to return to the cinema, in places where a film could find welcome in an ideal space.
It took an intelligent councillor such as Angelo Guglielmi to take a stance against the closures that were depriving Bologna’s historic centre of its cinemas and convince the local council to approve an injunction that allowed for a change in intended use for a long-closed cinema. Thanks to such a longsighted measure, the Cineteca di Bologna obtained free use for 50 years of the Cinema Modernissimo from the Palazzo Ronzani, in which it is housed, and was able to develop a project to make use of underground spaces both private (2,000m2 of the old Cinema Modernissimo, which had been closed since 2006) and public (1,600m2 of the underpass built in 1959 and closed for more than 20 years, which was transformed into a gallery that will house Alice Rohrwacher’s first exhibition, Bar Luna, and an exhibition dedicated to photographs of Bologna).
It took 14 years from the initial idea to the completion of the project and during this time the project developed and matured and gained essential accomplices and supporters in the local council and Confindustria Emilia Area Centro. We like to recall the fact that Pathé and Gaumont, two companies that represent the history of cinema, immediately believed in the project. The art director Giancarlo Basili revived the allure of a historic cinema, reinterpreting it with the help of a team of extraordinarily talented craftsmen. The Modernissimo opened its doors on 21 November 2023. Since then, it has welcomed more than 100,000 paying customers, a figure that places it firmly in the number-one spot, in terms of number of tickets sold, of all the cinemas in Italy.
However, the projecting roof designed (like the Modernissimo’s entrance) by Mario Nanni, still had not opened. We are delighted that this will happen during Il Cinema Ritrovato, without which this project would not have even been conceivable. Going down the steps under the projecting roof in Piazza Re Enzo will be like a journey through space and time. A few steps down from street level, and from the chaos of everyday life; a basement where you can find a cultural centre, a cinema and an exhibition space. You will be transported back in time by the many archaeological traces, the mosaics of a Roman villa and the paving of the ancient Via Emilia. It will be clear how history walks with us and accompanies our present. If you stop to examine the tiles of the mosaic, you will see how each one is different. Just as the characters that Fellini asked Geleng to draw for Amarcord look, from a distance, like a distinct crowd, but when seen up close reveal themselves to be individuals very different from one another. We placed a mirror above that marvellous painting so that the characters from Amarcord seem as if they are inviting us to become protagonists of the next film. The Modernissimo project had to be conceived and realised, and it needed institutions that could support and finance it, but without the public who filled the Cinema Lumière for more than 40 years, without the international audiences of Il Cinema Ritrovato, which demonstrated its significance, today the Modernissimo would not exist. We can say it with great pride and emotion: the Modernissimo is the fruit of an international community that believes in the cinema and its history.
This is no small thing, above all in a year in which the human virtue of cohabitation and the word peace seem to have lost all meaning.

PS: In this rich setting we will also present the first part of the Cinémathèque française’s legendary restoration of Abel Gance’s Napoléon.