Curated by Gian Luca Farinelli

This year’s selection demonstrates the expanse and range of the documentary genre, the value of its past and the possibilities of its present. It brings together works apparently very different from one another, such as Carmelo Bene’s invaluable final film, a master filmmaker’s record of Greenaway’s confessions, a short on the manufacture of matches, or one of the greatest documentaries on a sporting event ever made…
By following the programme, you will learn that sometimes a documentary filmmaker has to make a will before heading off to shoot a film. Barbet Schroeder did so before travelling to Uganda to interview the bloodthirsty general Idi Amin Dada for a unique record of the madness of power. Michael Roemer did not make one when he landed in Palermo in 1964 to shoot Cortile Cascino, a disturbing portrait of a district held hostage by the mafia; the film was so explicit that NBC chose not to broadcast it and it remains virtually unknown in Italy even today. Who knows whether the legendary Yugoslavian newsreel cameraman Stevan Labudović made one when Tito sent him to film the anti-colonial struggle in Algeria in an attempt to use images to forge the international consensus necessary for its liberation. These were years in which the cinema could do anything, as the young filmmakers Darius Kaufmann and Eytan Jan reveal while searching for the faint traces of the past in modern day Cuba.
The core of this selection are the documentaries, new and old, on the biggest social revolution of the last century: the woman’s movement. We present three luminous biographical portraits pertinent to this theme: Antonia Brico, the first woman to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic; Dorothy Arzner, the only female filmmaker in Hollywood between 1927 and 1943; and Agnès Varda, the adventurous director, artist, photographer and activist. Monica in the South Seas is a miraculous film which reconstructs the origins of both the documentary genre and Flaherty’s life, drawing on the archives of his daughter. If you think that the Oscar always goes to a film that doesn’t really deserve it, then you will need to think again when you watch Down and Out America, on the home-less in the era of Reaganomics, or The Celluloid Closet, which retraces homosexuality’s unstoppable rise to mainstream visibility. Those filmmakers responsible for documentaries on cinema this year break new ground: Ian Christie, for example, with a film essay on Sergei Eisenstein’s Mexican period, or Alain Agat who takes us back to the height of the colonial era in the early 1930s to examine three outlier filmmakers under a completely new light. Meanwhile the fluid gaze of Enrico Ghezzi and Godard’s three legendary Canadian lessons take us to the very heart of a reflection on cinema.
If, on the other hand, you want to discover what a cinema is, you must not miss the overwhelming documentary on the mythical London cinema, The Scala, or the documentary on Cinéma Laika, which Kaurismäki opened in Karkkila. It is worth quoting that film’s ending: “So what is a cinema? It is a place where you can recreate an image of the world in order to combat oblivion”.

Gian Luca Farinelli