The first edition of the Mostra Internazionale del Cinema Libero at Porretta Terme took place in July of 1960. Bruno Grieco, together with Gian Paolo Testa, convinced two significant intellectuals, Cesare Zavattini and Leonida Repaci, to create a different kind of film festival, an alternative to Venice. The best of innovative and independent cinema would find its home in Porretta. In the mid 1980s the festival moved to Bologna and here, in collaboration with the Cineteca, it gave life to Il Cinema Ritrovato. As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of our festival we wanted to draw once again upon the fountain of our origins with this section, Cinemalibero, a title also given to a new book series published by Edizioni Cineteca di Bologna. Why Cinemalibero today? One would think we can see everything, given the multiplicity of normal and virtual outlets, but the reality is otherwise. Films tend to be more and more similar to each other; cultural differences fade; the public swarms around very few hits, bombarded by powerful media blitzes. Those filmmakers who stay outside the margins of the mainstream market find it increasingly difficult to express their ideas. Deliberations about film, all but disappeared from the daily press, are locked within the walls of universities. The word ‘experimental’ has been banished from the world of film as if it were useless, or an embarrassment. Therefore, in this muddled 2013, we wanted to dedicate a section of Cinema Ritrovato to films that have attempted to excavate new ground, often never seeing the light of day or soon forgotten, films that remain true to their spirit of innovation and discovery. Each of these works has a special story. At Cannes, Maynila, a great film awash in love for cinema, with a devastating power reminiscent of early Fassbinder, Pierre Rissient pointed out that of the sixty films shot by Lino Brocka no more than four negatives remain. Tell Me Lies, made in London in 1968 by Peter Brook, hasn’t been seen in forty years: a sizzling mix of language and genre that reveals the mechanisms in which war, with its endless horror and death, seeps into our daily lives through mass communication. In 1955 Agnès Varda laid the groundwork for a new form of cinema in both style and content: La Pointe courte in fact would never find official distribution, and Henri Langlois would be one of very few to screen it. The anti-colonialism of Afrique 50 by René Vautier landed its director in military prison, and its negative was destroyed. With Avoir vingt ans dans les Aurès Vautier would make a film that is both lyrical and seditious, censored for being the first French film to show the hidden side of the war in Algeria. Lettre à la prison (1969) by Jewish/Italian/Tunisian/French Marc Scialom is a disturbing document about the eradication of North Africans in France, employing a poetic language akin to a mix of Pasolini and the surrealists. In 1968 Jackie Raynal and the Zanzibar Group opted for experimental radicalism over specifically political radicalism… Barham Bayzaei succeeded in bringing a copy of his film Ragbar to the USA (the negative had been confiscated and destroyed by the Iranian government) and the World Cinema Foundation managed to restore it, as it also brought the first work by Ousmane Sembène, Borom Sarret, back to life, a film that is stunning for its simplicity while looking at profound ethical issues. We chose the two legs sticking out of the cart in Borom Sarret as the symbol of this section, dedicated to filmmakers who are ready to embark on an arduous journey and audiences prepared to cross through deserts to find fresh, flowing springs.
(Gian Luca Farinelli)
Programme curated by Gian Luca Farinelli