All the elements of an internationally curated programme for Il Cinema Ritrovato 2020 are coming together fast and we thought we should update you on some of the wonderful strands and wide-ranging films that we will be presenting this year.
We also tried an experiment last year which we would like to repeat: we started a couple of days earlier as a warm-up, screening only documentaries on the subjects of the main strands. This means that if you decide to get to Bologna sooner and overcome your jetlag before the main festival begins, there will be films for you!
This year, as in every year, in addition to the most recent restorations – a list of which we will reveal in the near future – we will be bringing you treasures from archives from around the world, including an extensive focus on The Komiya Tomijiro Collection, the centrepiece of this year’s silent screenings.
Our Asian adventures continue with works from Japan and India, two of the richest national cinemas. From Japan, the artistry of cult director Yuzo Kawashima will be the subject of an overview retrospective, while India’s Parallel Cinema, perhaps the most unexplored chapter in the sub-continent’s cinematic history, will be presented screening the best available archival prints and one brand new restoration.
During a particularly turbulent time in the world – and only months to go before the US presidential election – Henry Fonda for President is a section which not only features the star of this edition but also provides an opportunity to catch some absolute classics of the canon.
Thrilling discoveries await you in programmes dedicated to Soviet women directors, Frank Tuttle and Stuart Heisler.
Henry Fonda for President
In this highly contested year of 2020, Il Cinema Ritrovato proposes a very special candidate to the electorate: Henry Fonda. His iconic status and the wide respect he commands among American actors makes him an obvious candidate. But Fonda’s role in the dream life of the cinema republic reaches far beyond the ‘integrity’ and ‘simplicity’ which have often been ascribed to him and his craft. His persona, as indicated by this film programme, is a polyphonic product of three historical moments – and of the ways in which he embraced these moments. He rose to stardom as a Midwestern popular front man of the late 1930s, haunted by the contradictions between capitalism and democracy. He acquired additional qualities of self-doubt and a somewhat traumatic streak during World War II and its aftermath. And he went on to express the hopes and fears that accompanied the ‘lap dissolve’ from the McCarthy era into the JFK Sixties. To a politique des acteurs, Fonda appears as the ‘Best Man’, the ‘Wrong Man’, and the ‘Man with no name’, all at the same time.
Curated by Alexander Horwath
Photo: The Best Man by Franklin J. Schaffner (1964)
Rebellious Poets and Radical Spirits: Indian Parallel Cinema
The story of Parallel Cinema has never fully been told. When Arun Kaul and Mrinal Sen published their film manifesto in 1968 calling for a new cinema, an unprecedented burst of creativity captured the imagination of a generation of filmmakers and transformed the provincial aesthetic and thematic landscape of Indian cinema forever. The following year, the Film Finance Corporation, originally set up by the state to help filmmakers, broke new ground by financing some highly original films. Parallel Cinema’s moment had been coming for a long time. It was a moment that arrived after the death of Nehru, in an India full of uncertainty and forged in a radical socio-political space in which it was possible to agitate for something alternative and oppositional. Parallel Cinema was regional in character; Karnataka, Bengal, Kerala were at the forefront of innovation. Since many of the films have rarely been screened outside of India, this strand aims at reclaiming Parallel Cinema as one of the most sustained, iconoclastic and overlooked film stories of the past fifty years.
Curated by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, Cecilia Cenciarelli e Omar Ahmed
Photo: Bhuvan Shome by Mrinal Sen (1969)
In a Maze of Images – The Komiya Tomijiro Collection Revisited
A time-capsule of the first golden age of European cinema. A hundred years ago in Tokyo, a young man was collecting distribution prints of European films. What remained of his stunning collection arrived at the National Film Centre (now National Film Archive of Japan) in 1988 and was duplicated on safety stock. Ever since, precious Komiya prints have enriched Il Cinema Ritrovato’s sections on Genina, Grémillon, Capellani and Frusta. But it is high time to revisit the collection of Tomijiro Komiya as a subject in its own right and to discover its hidden gems. The fact is that much of the catalogue has never been screened anywhere in the world, so be prepared to be dazzled by the colours and the suggestive glimpses of lost or forgotten films – to fall under the spell of old dreams and mysteries.
Curated by Hiroshi Komatsu, Mariann Lewinsky and Karl Wratschko
Photo: Dans l’Hellade by Charles Decroix (1909)
Guns for Hire: Frank Tuttle vs. Stuart Heisler
The first ‘comparative’ retrospective of Il Cinema Ritrovato – considering the works of two directors in tandem – is all about brilliance outside the pantheon: Frank Tuttle (1892-1963) and Stuart Heisler (1896-1979), each responsible for directing some acclaimed and some neglected gems of American cinema, are the two figures this programme aims to reclaim as masters in their own right. Their films, with detectable distinction, are splendidly paced and unpredictable in the ways they alter the cinematic vocabulary of popular genres. This special pairing is inspired by the philosophical and political visions they shared, which led to them tackling the same subjects (fascism, duality, redemption) in two vividly contrasting styles – often mirroring the work of the fellow director. This programme offers some stunningly stylish film noir, mad comedies and dark melodramas, featuring great stars such as Susan Hayward, Bette Davis, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Gary Cooper, Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant… in 35mm!
Curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht
Photo: This Gun for Hire by Frank Tuttle (1942)
Yuzo Kawashima: The Missing Link
Kawashima is the “missing link” between the classical Japanese cinema and the New Wave. An apprentice of Ozu and a teacher of Imamura, he made films with the care and precision of the studio era combined with the flamboyance and daring of the 1960s. For Imamura, Kawashima “personified the Japanese New Wave ten years before its emergence”, a tribute that testifies to Kawashima’s lasting impact on Japanese cinema, despite his premature death at 45. Chronic poor health inspired a pessimistic worldview and a sense of the absurd. In his oeuvre, subtle, poignant realist dramas jostle with freewheeling, unpredictable comedies, poised between satire and farce. An expert stylist, Kawashima delighted in elaborate compositions and placing his actors strategically amidst props and furnishings. An actors’ director, he encouraged breezy, noisy, vital performances in which facial expression, tone of voice, posture, gesture and movement combined to bring detail and conviction to the characterisations. This retrospective will screen a selection of his finest work.
Curated by Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström
Photo: Bakumatsu taiyoden by Yuzo Kawashima (Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate, 1947)
Pioneering Soviet Women Directors
This is more than just a footnote to history: until the 1950s, there were more women film directors active in the USSR than in any other country in the world. The fact that we can list more than ten names of major feature directors, and as many documentary makers, plus a few animators, bears witness to the strong impact of the revolution on the women’s place in society – in a country supposedly more ‘backward’ than Western Europe. In 2013, Il Cinema Ritrovato paid tribute to Olga Preobrazhenskaia. We would like to continue with, to name a few, the multi-talented Alexandra Khokhlova (Lev Kuleshov’s main collaborator), the Georgian Nutsa (Nino) Gogoberidze (whose only feature, Ujmuri, was rediscovered last year) and Margarita Barskaia (director of the classic Torn Shoes). The programme will also feature the work of documentary pioneers Esfir Shub and Lydia Stepanova, along with the films of box-office stars such as Vera Stroeva, Nadezhda Kosheverova and Tatiana Lukashevich.
Curated by Irène Bonnaud and Bernard Eisenschitz
Photo: Zolushka di Nadezhda Kosheverova and Mikhail Shapiro (Cinderella, 1947)
Great Small Gauges: Super 8mm & 16mm
Vivid colours, the poetry of the grain and the freedom of independent filmmaking: the Great Small Gauge section of Il Cinema Ritrovato invites you once again to listen to the rattling sound of film projectors inside the cinema and to discover the works of four major visual artists who worked on small gauge film. This year we will also project in Super 8mm, a format which rarely finds its way into a movie theatre. One of our focuses will be on small-gauge filmmaking from the Netherlands, which gives us the chance to screen films by the surprisingly little-known visual artist and film poet Henri Plaat, and mind-expanding works by one of the pivotal figures of Dutch independent cinema, Barbara Meter. The two other artists in 2020’s programme, Helga Fanderl and Peter Hutton, are connected by their exquisite use of the cinematic eye to capture images of an incredible clearness and purity. Pursuing the essence of cinema we also present a special projecting apparatus this year: the wondrous Archeoscope built by Jan Kulka.
Curated by Karl Wratschko e Mariann Lewinsky
Photo: Mädchen by Helga Fanderl (Girls, 1995)
Aside from these, we will continue to present our regular strands, the details of which will be announced in our forthcoming newsletters:
Recovered and Restored
The best of the new restorations and discoveries from around the world, often introduced by the people who made the films, or have restored them.
Screening rarities and showcasing new restorations of national cinemas that are not otherwise easily detected on the radar of cinephilia.
One Hundred Years Ago: 1920
Travelling back in our time machine to showcase some of the best and most surprising films made a century ago.
1900: Year Five of Cinema
There is more to early cinema than Méliès and the far-flung cameramen of the Lumière Company!
The comedy genius strikes back in new restorations, with live music.
Documents and Documentaries
Films on cinema and classic documentaries back on the big screen.
Il Cinema Ritrovato Kids
Films and workshops for our youngest and most curious audience.
And also Film Lectures, Il Cinema Ritrovato DVD Awards and Book Fair
And there’s more to come! We’ll tell you all about what else we have in store for Il Cinema Ritrovato 2020 in another email update very soon.
Directors of Il Cinema Ritrovato
Cecilia Cenciarelli, Gian Luca Farinelli, Ehsan Khoshbakht and Mariann Lewinsky