Teatro Comunale di Bologna > 12:00


Introduced by

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

Piano accompaniment by

Daniele Furlati

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose 
“Where are the snows of yesteryear?” asked poet François Villon in a refrain that underlined the inexorable passing of everything under the sun, and John Donne demanded “tell me where all past years are”. Their poems have proven immortal. As for immortality, Karl Valentin pointed out at some point in the early 20th century “that there are now two forms of it, one in Heaven and one in the Cinema”. Indeed, this year’s festival features an autumnal landscape and many films set in the snows of the past years. How long do wars take to end? They seem perennial, with Russia annexing the Ukrainian Crimea in 2014 and a civil war leading to genocide in Ruanda in 1994 for reasons that go back to wars 100 years ago and more. Independent Poland, partitioned and annihilated by Austria, Prussia and Russia in the late 18th century, was re-established after the Great War by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, a peace negotiated without Soviet Russia. A war ensued. Its main victims were the prisoners of war who died by the thousands in camps on both sides, the Jewish population who were treated with equal cruelty by the Polish and the Red army, and the Ukrainians’ aspiration for independence. The two minutes of Gaumont newsreel in our 1920 strand amount to no more than a visual exhortation to read and reread Journal 1920 and Red Cavalry by Isaak Babel (1894-1940), war correspondent, Soviet propagandist and one of the greatest writers of the last century. European powers also used colonial troops to fight their wars. During World War I the French recruited an estimated 500,000 men from the colonies and deployed soldiers from Africa against the Germans. According to the illuminating research by Satanu Das, the British did not use colonial troops against white enemies (for example in the Boer Wars), out of racial considerations. However, when the casualties rose in 1914, they decided to send 150,000 Indians to fight in European war theatres. The Great War, of course, was also fought in Africa. After Germany’s defeat, the Paris Peace conference awarded all of its colonies in the region of present- day Ruanda, Burundi and Tanzania to Britain. Belgium objected and got Ruanda and Urundi. The new Belgian territories, their peoples, customs and dances as well as the ruler Yuhi Musinga, king of Ruanda until he was deposed in 1931 by the Belgian administration, are presented in a series of short Éclair documentaries (which includes also films from the Maghreb). Belgium enforced the German racist invention of ‘hamite’ Tutsi and ‘bantu’ Hutu by issuing personal documents registering the population of Ruanda as Tutsi or Hutu.

Mariann Lewinsky 

The Mutoscope and Biograph Collection is the oldest film collection held at EYE Filmmuseum. It includes over 200 films, most of which were made in Europe between 1897 and 1902. This constitutes the largest existing collection of Mutoscope and Biograph films surviving in the world, followed by the BFI’s holdings. The Mutoscope and Biograph Company was founded by film pioneer and inventor William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, who had worked with Thomas Edison since the 1880s. The films in this collection are all photographed with the unique Mutograph camera, resulting in innovative and groundbreaking large-format films (approximately 68mm wide, without perforation) with an extremely high resolution providing extraordinarily rich detail. EYE Filmmuseum appreciates the funding from the European Commission’s European Tribute to Film Heritage programme, which allowed the digitisation of 50 selected films from the EYE and BFI collections, making them available within today’s technology. Given the obsolete format, digital restoration was done with custom-made equipment at a resolution of around 8K. After digitisation, image restoration was applied to reproduce as closely as possible the characteristics of the original material. The lab work was done at Haghefilm Digitaal and at Cineric, supervised by EYE. A compilation programme under the title The Brilliant Biograph showcasing some of these recently restored films will be made available from the Eye Filmmuseum later in 2020, to be booked in DCP format.   


The fabulous Stucky
If taken as a compact body of work that needs no cutting or mending, Stucky’s films remind us that memory is splintered, visionary, diaphanous and intermittent. Close your eyes for a memory. Open them. Close them again for another. Or vice versa. Stucky’s images are revelations of a memory we thought foreign but suddenly we perceive as our own. Hanging from a trembling thread that looks like it could break at any moment, seemingly fragile, exhausted and yet so precise, sharp and uplifting. Stucky’s shots are dizzyingly dense. There is no hierarchy or distinction between centre, background and contour. Each detail is an allusion, a potential spell. Even the small gesture of a hand that reaches a hat, a twisting wind, a small foot rising, a merry-go-round in the distance. You could watch them again and again, and each time you would see a new ghost, a new story to lose yourself in. Stucky’s films make us aware of the presence of the movie camera. We see it in the quick comic sketches staged here and there by the kids at home, a constant attraction to that black hole called a lens, where eyes often land with joyful or stealthy glances. Two ragged little girls sitting in front of the doorway even imitate the actions of filmmaking, that turning of the hand that seizes the cameraman’s crank, visible and invisible all at once. It’s a game of reflexes. What’s in that box? And what’s outside of it? In Stucky’s world two themes reappear constantly: children and water. We suspect they have a powerful, hidden and reciprocal force of attraction. They are pictures in motion from a time that cinema can make move in any direction. You throw yourself in as a challenge to the abyss, in a moment that stops the world and makes it explode in splatters. Some knowledge of the facts helps, of course. Giancarlo Stucky (1881-1941) was a descendant of Giovanni, the ‘mill king’, Venice’s own Scrooge Mc- Duck. In 1900, at the Paris Exposition, young Giancarlo was enchanted by the Gaumont-Demenÿ Chrono de Poche, the first amateur cinematograph (15mm with centre perforation), and he got himself one. At home he started filming scenes of family life, city views, fishermen’s boats, moments of everyday life, parties, markets, work and leisure, rich people and proletarians… Today, a little more than 70 of his lightning films, which run about 30 seconds each, survive.

Andrea Meneghelli

Henri Plaat: Filmmaking as ‘an exploded hobby’
Henri Plaat (1936) is a visual artist and creator of graphic work, drawings, gouaches and collages. After his premature departure from school he enrolled in the University of Applied Arts to study typography. Feeling limited by the course, he soon began to draw and took an interest in the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt and Mayan culture. His personal memories of World War II and newsreels influenced his work to develop a unique code to rebel against reality: “Humour is an antidote to the fear of terrible things”. He picked up a camera in 1966 and started to make films first on 8mm and later on 16mm. Plaat’s interest lies in the interplay between the imaginary and the real, as shown by his use of light and colour, movement and stillness as well as sound and music. In his shorter filmic performances, he adapts photo montages with opera and song, juxtaposing Wagner and Zarah Leander with war sounds and aircraft noise. Using the tactics of the absurd, Plaat playfully examines the theatrical and the quality of wonder often through associative improvisation, contrasted by the crude reality of the haunting wars that ravaged Europe. His eclectic travelogues are fantastical elegies venturing into dream-like archaeological expeditions – to Latin America, India, Greece and North America – with a focus on derelict landscapes and dilapidated beauty. His gaze on fallen empires and the melancholy of ancient greatness is both nostalgic and embodies the urge for truthfulness, to learn from the origins and to conserve this sentiment for future humanity. Plaat’s decision to work on film was strongly motivated by the visual qualities of Kodachrome and Tri-X reversal stocks, which were able to translate his preference for light, shadow and colour.

Marius Hrdy


Tuesday 25/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Year: 1920
Country: Francia
Running time: 9'
Film Version

French intertitles



Year: 1897-1899
Country: USA-Olanda-Gran Bretagna-Germania
Running time: 7'

Gaumont Chrono de Poche Home Movies NO. 10-25

Director: Giancarlo Stucky
Year: 1900
Country: Italia
Running time: 8'


Director: Henri Plaat
Year: 1976
Country: Paesi Bassi
Running time: 4'