The divas of the festival (one per section)

At a time when Italy was headed towards World War I and later fascism, and women’s rights were hardly discussed (universal suffrage would come much later), a few female figures dominated the screen, overshadowing their male counterparts. They became the stars of visual culture. They were divine, and, in fact, the term “diva” was created for them. But they were also real and, we’d say today, inspirational women. With their strenghts and determination, they instantly became role models and produced legions od imitators, in the history of fashion and international entertainment”.
Gian Luca Farinelli



Divine and inaccessible, sublime and ethereal, strong-willed and carnal, Italian and international… The divas of cinema have always impressed, capable as they are of creating a gravitational universe that attracts the public, impressing themselves in the collective imagination. We have selected some of the most representative female faces of this year’s Cinema Ritrovato:

  • Sophia Loren, or… Italy!
    Symbol of Italy, indeed of a Mediterranean, exotic, and international Italy: Sophia Loren, in a very long career, was all of this. So Italian in fact that she was considered to be exotic even for Italy itself. An entire section of the festival is dedicated to her, “Forever Sophia“.

  • Stefania Sandrelli, “we know her well”
    Stefania Sandrelli will inaugurate the 36th edition of the festival on Saturday 25 June in Piazza Maggiore in Bologna: the big screen with host the new restoration of Il conformista by Bernardo Bertolucci, who in 1970 wanted Stefania Sandrelli along with Dominique Sanda and Jean-Louis Trintignant in one of his visually more beautiful films.

  • Francesca Bertini: together with Borelli, the (silent) diva of Italian cinema
    Eternal femme fatale protagonist of Tu m’appartiens! (You belong to me) in the “Rediscovered and Restored” section. The prototype of the kind of woman that was able not only to invent but also to resist time well beyond her film career.

  • Liz Taylor, , “woman’s body with a girl’s emotions”
    Considered the last major Hollywood diva, the purple-eyed female counterpart to James Dean the cursed star, in Giant (“Rediscovered and Restored”).
  • Barbara Stanwyck,”the eternally modern actress of Hollywood’s Golden Age”
    We find her in a “wild” triangle with Gary Cooper and Anthony Quinn in Hugo Fregonese’s Blowing Wild.
  • Evelyn Keyes, “a star noir”
    In the section “Peter Lorre, a stranger in a foreign land”, in its 68 minutes The Face Behind the Mask, an exemplary B-series film, brings together violent gangsters, an angelic blind girl, and a biting parody of the American dream.

  • Gunilla Palmstierna, a Swedish diamond
    The only feature film by Peter Weiss, an extraordinary film recounting the twenty-four hours of a young man in the city of Stockholm, Hägringen incorporates elements of the director’s previous experimental and non-fiction shorts.

  • Ève Francis, “l’étoile rêvée”
    French actress and director (muse/wife of Louis Delluc), star of Antoinette Sabrier by her friend Germaine Dulac (in the section “Super 8, 9,5mm & 16mm – Piccolo grande passo”).
  • Märta Torén, the Swedish diva who inspired the stage name of Sophia Loren
    Swedish actress, then Hollywood, and finally Italian, who died prematurely; we find her in One way street by Hugo Fregonese.

  • Maria Jacobini, “the eternal fatal torment of the restless walker”
    Protagonist, together with the land of Sardinia, of Cainà or the island and the continent, “a dense, tense, compact, desperate, sometimes incomprehensible work” (in the section “One hundred years ago: 1922”).
  • Leila Diniz, “the symbol of a Brazil that wanted to change”
    “Authentic and spontaneous, Leila Diniz was the mouthpiece of a censored generation. She conquered hearts and minds in the name of love and at the same time attracted the hostility of the defenders of morality and conservatives”. The documentary Já que Ninguém me Tira para Dançar is dedicated to the Brazilian actress.

  • Fujiko Yamamoto, “a new kind of Kyoto woman”
    Diva of the first magnitude of Daiei – in just ten years (1953-1963) she appeared in over a hundred films – and she was best known in the West for Ozu’s Equinox Flower, here we find her as the protagonist of a tragic love story set in the Edo period (1603-1867) in the film Shirokoya Komako.
  • Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead), “the girl can’t help it”
    The famous drag queen named after the hero (declined in the female form) of Jean Genet’s Notre-Dame des Fleurs, she paraded resolutely and proudly in John Waters’ Pink Flamingos.

  • Alla Nazimova, anachronistic diva, and forgotten protagonist
    In Salomè ( in the section “One hundred years ago: 1922), the acting exploits every part of the body, almost as if it were a dance: gestures and movements are more important than facial expressions.

  • Constance Smith, the Irish version of Hedy Lamarr
    A diva with a tormented life (she was the protagonist of various attacks by who would later become her husband, the director of documentaries Paul Rotha). In the section dedicated to Hugo Fregonese, we find her alongside Jack Palance in Man in the Attic.

  • Josette Andriot, a heroine born from cinema and for the cinema
    Pioneer of disguise, queen of transformism of cold beauty, complete sportswoman, able to swim, ride a horse, and ride a bicycle, she is the protagonist of the film Protéa by Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset shown during the festival, to which we are dedicating a section this year.

  • ​​Yoná Magalhães, “a estrela do Rio”
    With a sixty-year career in television, cinema, and theatre, we find her in Deus e o Diabo na terra do sol (Black God, White Devil) by Glauber Rocha.

  • Milena Dravić, the Serbian diva with a melancholic gaze
    For years it has been described the vices and great virtues of the Yugoslav people in general and the Serbian people in particular. We find her in Čovek nije tica (Man Is Not A Bird), a “love film”, where she believes in the power of love while seeing in it the contiguity with death, in the section “A look at Yugoslavian cinema”.

  • Renate Müller, a fallen star (haunted by Hitler and the Gestapo)
    In the section “The last laugh: German musical comedies, 1930-32”, Die Privatsekretärin (The Private Secretary): a turning point and the greatest success film of the young actress, who later fell out of favour with Hitler and shadowed by the Gestapo. After her tragic death (just six years after the release of the film), all copies of the work were withdrawn from circulation and the negative was considered destroyed.

  • Maggie Nujarlutuk, the star of the North
    The face of early documentary cinema, she is the female interpreter of Nanook of the North (in the section “One hundred years ago: 1922”), a silent film still considered with great pride and respect by the Inuit culture, and above all by the descendants of Allakarialak (Nanook).

  • The girl among the stars
    La Fée aux étoiles: 1902, the year of Voyage dans la Lune. A girl dances among the stars. We do not know her name, yet the iconic image of her will accompany us during the festival printed on the tote bags of the Cinema Ritrovato.