Curated by Masolino, Silvia e Caterina d’Amico

With the exception of directors who are solely responsible for writing their own scripts (Chaplin is the most notable example), it is often difficult to discern the hand of the screenwriter. First and foremost, because screenplays are almost always the work of several authors; and secondly, because it is often difficult to reconstruct the original shooting script. The screenplays published nowadays are invariably based on the dialogue of the finished film, which can differ from those of the original script and often contain numerous significant changes. Certainly, some screenwriters – Zavattini! – are hired because of their speciality, to provide a characteristic initial idea or to enrich a story with their own recognisable touch. But in Italy, films, and particularly those with any serious intent, have always been considered primarily the work of the director, who, unlike in the United States and United Kingdom, invariably collaborated on the screenplay – thus the screenplay usually seems to depend on him. So, when I was asked to contribute to a definition of the authorial identity (let’s call it that) of my mother, Suso Cecchi d’Amico, who wrote over one hundred and twenty screenplays, hardly ever on her own, my initial reaction was: impossible. My mother made her debut at the height of the neorealist era and lived through all of the phases of our cinema, contributing to many different genres: from comedies (both all’italiana and not) to the adaptation of great works of literature, and from politically and socially engaged cinema to big international productions. Her name even appears on the debuts of a series of directors who would later become famous and renowned… Yes,  indeed. It was this fact that ultimately made me think   of a potential response to the above question. The film, it has been said, belongs to the director and the writers work with him and for him. The screenwriter’s job is a subservient one in which, not coincidentally, established novelists who are proud of the quality of their written work typically find themselves at a disadvantage. All of them, writers and screenwriters, place their talents in the service of the film in order to invent stories, recreate life and enter into the minds of their characters; and the directors mould this talent to serve their own ends. And so, I thought, what else did my mother possess which made her so in demand? In addition to her ability to know and understand people and the wider world, she also understood the director who had requested her, and what he had in mind. It was the director’s psychologist. She knew, or rapidly discovered, what Visconti, Blasetti or Zampa wanted. Therefore, I think that the best way to pay homage to her lies not in trying to identify the traces of her handiwork in any given film, because she simply did not emphasise this. Rather, it is by screening a number of films which are as different from one another as are the directors with whom she worked – directors who gave the very best of themselves on those occasions in part, we would argue, thanks to her contribution.

Masolino d’Amico