Recovered and Restored

Curated by Gian Luca Farinelli

The good news is that this is the first time that so many films have been restored since the pandemic. As a result, this section is more like a festival within a festival. It comprises close to ninety films with over one hundred years between the most recent, Inland Empire, and the earliest, L’Enfant des mariniers. The other good news is that alongside films by great masters, there are also many new discoveries; it is as if more attention were now being paid to films and filmmakers not yet part of the canon. A clear example is the tribute to Michael Roemer, one of the most personal and courageous filmmakers of his era.
In order to sketch a map of this section I will concentrate on individual decades. In the early1900s and 1910s, European production still dominated that of the United States. Films in this period were distinguished by their masterful use of exterior locations, be it Capellani’s filming of the port of Nice, Mack’s Berlin, or Griffith’s clever use of the California coast.
The 1920s includes foundational works in a variety of cinema genres: horror (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), melodrama (The Woman of Paris and Stella Dallas), light comedy (Lady Windermere’s Fan), and experimental film (four titles by Man Ray).
The restorations of films from the 1930s do justice to the work of DoPs and Art Directors and allow us to appreciate how screenwriters mixed genres. Among the selected films, sentimental stories prevail over narrative, be it a gangster film (Hijōsen no onna), a social comedy which influenced Zavattini (Man’s Castle), an unmissable light comedy (One Way Passage), or a colonial drama (Amok).
The common thread among films from the 1940s is emigration; Hitchcock, Siodmak and Renoir are all Europeans who, for different reasons, left the Old World to work in Hollywood. In the 1950s different filmmakers and conceptions of cinema coexist, from classical masterpieces like Rio Bravo to Kubrick’s troubled debut, Fear and Desire, in its complete version at last. Among the masterpieces, I would like also to point out a rarity: Cry, the Beloved Country by Zoltán Korda, a director born into the Austro-Hungarian Empire who became a subject of the British Empire whose myth he helped celebrate. In this film he reveals, without hypocrisy, the racism, violence and exploitation of South Africa and the monstrosity of white colonial society. The 1960s begin with La maschera del demonio and end with Riten, a TV film in which Bergman experiments with the chamber-film. The decade also witnessed the debuts of filmmakers with lengthy careers, like Skolimowski or Bogdanovich, as well as the arrival of new cinemas and technologies.
We are at the end of the century and cinema is revisiting its past, with filmmakers refreshing old genres, rejuvenating the cinema and nostalgically celebrating its past. The Lumières’ invention was never one single thing, and this year’s Recovered and Restored is proof of that. Happy viewing.

Gian Luca Farinelli