Saturday June 28th Saturday 5th July 2008
Il XXXVII Mostra Internazionale del Cinema Libero
IL CINEMA RITROVATO
Il Cinema Ritrovato, the festival sponsored by the Mostra Internazionale del Cinema Libero and the Cineteca del Comune di Bologna, invites film-lovers from around the world to Bologna from Saturday June 28th through Saturday July 5th, 2008. The 22nd edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato will provide an array of unknown, little-known, rediscovered, and restored films. Once again, this means an overwhelming collection of themes, protagonists, and territories of 20th century cinema believed lost. Our pleasure dome will give its due share to everyone: historians and archivists, those obsessed with stars, "auteurs" or genres, film technology lovers and aficionados of erotica. The glory of the unexpected crosses all programs: our 1908 series as well as our selection of 1950s CinemaScope, silent and sound films, avant-garde and popular cinema.
The silent section opens with a series dedicated to films made exactly 100 years ago, curated by Mariann Lewinsky. 1908 will offer a panorama of fascinating themes, national productions, technological attractions (also with sound!), visions of the world and breaking news (from the London Olympic Games to the Messina earthquake) and cultural superproductions like Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei and L'assassinat du Duc de Guise, presented with Camille Saint-Saëns original music, during the final evening on Saturday July 5th, dedicated to the avant-gardes.
The most spectacular presentation is dedicated to Josef von Sternberg, "the inventor of Marlene Dietrich" all six American Sternberg-Dietrich films will be shown - and before that the creator of a fabulous silent oeuvre which we will show in toto. The Salvation Hunters (1925), his first film presented in a new print splendidly preserved by UCLA, is already a supreme naturalist illusion that reveals the force of an unsurpassed stylist and the strangest of cinema's poets. Underworld (1927) is the first of Sternberg's four films dominated by the unforgettably wild presence of George Bancroft. The Docks of New York (1928) is a towering pictorial masterpiece, and the print we show should make any film lover's week or even life worthwhile. The Last Command (1928) is a perfect match between the ironies of Sternberg and the story itself: a general from old Russia is now a Hollywood extra. In Sternberg's terms we might wonder which one - a man's life or its imitation - is the true parody? This retrospective will be completed by Thunderbolt (1929), Sternberg's first experiment with sound.
The Marlene Dietrich films Morocco (1930), Dishonored (1931), Shanghai Express (1932), Blonde Venus (1932), The Scarlet Empress (1934) and The Devil Is a Woman (1935) open the gates to a dreamscape that might take place in China, Imperial Russia, North Africa, Austria or Spain with Dietrich as a spy, adventuress, singer, and Empress, which gives her the opportunity to cut the throats of her men. These films represent the highest point, perverse and ruthless, of the mythology of the love goddess.
But thats not all. We'll show some rarities: Children of Divorce (1927), partly directed by Sternberg, and his vastly underappreciated An American Tragedy (1931). And there will be two dossiers curated by Janet Bergstrom in collaboration with the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with the participation of the director's son Nicholas von Sternberg and a vivid portrait of the artist himself interviewed by André S. Labarthe, the creator (with Janine Bazin) of the famous interview series, Cinéastes de notre temps, to which we dedicate a special homage.
Emilio Ghione (1872-1930) is the silent star of our 2008 program. The creator of Za la mort and I topi grigi (1918, this years morning serial) was a hugely popular actor and director in his day. He was at home in almost every genre, yet he retained an original touch, creating heroes and anti-heroes that were strictly his own with decadent, Gothic elements combining cartoon-like directness and ironic, unexplained elements, as if he was moving through mystical imprints.
Gosfilmofond will have its 60th anniversary at the same time as Russian Cinema celebrates its 100th anniversary. It is thus apt to celebrate the life and work of Lev Kuleshov, one of the fathers of Soviet Cinema and its first great theoretician. Yet his work is little known with the exception of the captivating fun piece The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924) or perhaps By the Law (1926), a harsh adaptation of Jack London. Thus our season will come as a big surprise to many, the testimony of a nuanced, intelligent director inventing a language that reflected everyday life along with the passion and history of the Soviet Union of his time as well as international realities. There are famous titles that most of us know only from books - The Death Ray (1925), The Gay Canary (1929) - and highlights like Gorizont (1932) or The Great Consoler (1933, one more film that has a love-hate relationship with the West, circling around the personality of the writer O. Henry), and even later evidence that Kuleshov (and his actress wife Khokhlova) never lost enthusiasm and creativity. The curator of the series, Yuri Tsivian, along with specialist Nikolai Izvolov and Kuleshovs granddaughter Ekaterina Khokhlova, will present famous experimental works and reconstructions of some lost films. We also thank the Austrian Film Museum for its kind collaboration.
With the section Irresistible forces: Comic Actresses and Suffragettes (1910-1915), Il Cinema Ritrovato will proceed with the exploration of the origin of comic cinema, this year through a feminine eye. Those are the years of the Suffragettes, characterized by womens fight for their fundamental rights, as witnessed by the collection of actualities and newsreels preserved by the British Film Institute / National Archive. In this context, characters like Rosalie, Cunegonde, Lea, Gigetta and the wild sisters Tilly and Sally have an explosive and freedombreaking impact. This program, curated by Mariann Lewinsky, is made possible by the support of the Associazione Orlando, Dipartimento di Musica e Spettacolo and Biblioteca Italiana delle Donne, in the framework of the Pioniere del cinema project, curated by Monica DallAsta.
While last years Chapliniana still echoes in our minds, this year we will launch an annual "Chaplins filiation" program with a series of films devoted to Monta Bell, Chaplins assistant on A Woman of Paris (1924) and a wonderful director in his own right, as our selection - Lady of the Night (1925), Pretty Ladies (1925), Upstage (1926) - proves beyond question. At the crossroad of the Sternberg retrospective, we will dedicate a dossier to The Seagull/Woman of the Sea (1926), one of the most famous lost films of all time. The film was shot by Sternberg and produced by Chaplin who did not like it and eventually refused to release it. Its intriguing story will be traced with images and rare documents gathered from many sources.
After the 2007 series dedicated to Michael Curtiz, we will propose a new homage to Warner, with a selection of films made during the tempestuous Thirties. William Dieterles The Last Flight (1931), the greatest 'Fitzgeraldian' film about the lost generation; Tay Garnett's One Way Passage (1932), one of the most sublime love films of all time, and William Wellman's Heroes for Sale (1933), a grim tale of real war heroes on their way to damnation by the anonymous great society, then in the throes of the Depression. No less powerful are Employees' Entrance (Roy Del Ruth, 1933), a cold and grim miniature of the capitalist system and an unsurpassed portrait of a corporate director, embodied again by Warren William, or Three on a Match (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932), which in its mere 63 minutes seems to catch all the hidden knowledge of a society divided into the too poor and the too rich, or, obviously, 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932) with images of prison shadows hanging from the roof like guillotine blades - surely no one captured the chill of death row better than Michael Curtiz...
On the occasion of the centenary of his birth, we organize a series around films inspired by the work of Giovanni Guareschi, the satirist and creator of Don Camillo, played by the French Fernandel, and Peppone, the Communist mayor played by the Italian Gino Cervi (born in Bologna, where else). It will include the five Don Camillo films, pillars of Italian popular culture and, as controcanto, La Rabbia (1962), with one episode by the leftist Pier Paolo Pasolini and another from Christian Democrat Guareschi - an epochal dialogue that was shelved in its time and sees the day only now, reflecting with a memorable sense of tragedy and irony the great themes of that (and our) day: immigration, globalization, robotization Two photographic exhibitions, presented at Cinetecas and Fondazione Carisbos halls, will be dedicated respectively to Don Camillo and Guareschi e il Cinema.
As this is a good place to celebrate Fernandel, we'll do it with a fabulous duo of recently restored masterpieces by Marcel Pagnol, presented by his grandson Nicolas Pagnol. Le Schpountz (1938), a film about filmmaking mentioned as "the most unknown of Pagnol's masterpieces" and the still immensely popular Topaze (1951, the second version by Pagnol himself), about a naive teacher becoming a tough and cynical manipulator of souls - a role that only actors like Barrymore, Jouvet or Fernandel could make believable.
The delicious Don Camillo comedies were born in the dangerous times of the cold war and under a chilly cloud - the atomic bomb and the panic it created. It had remarkable reflections in cinema, that we will dramatize with five different perspectives: Operation Swallow: The Battle for Heavy Water (1948), a remarkable Norwegian film co-directed by Titus Vibe-Müller and Jean Dréville, The Beginning or the End (1947) by Norman Taurog, a mirror of all the misconceptions of the time, terrifying in its naivety and innocence about its thesis, and Them! (Gordon Douglas, 1954), a masterpiece of science fiction. Then, if allowed, the grimmest of them all, Children of Hiroshima by Shindo, and the famous film by Akira Iwasaki, Hiroshima Nagasaki August, 1945, immediately forbidden because of its direct horror and accusatory power, edited by Erik Barnouw and then doomed to shadows.
One guaranteed source of pleasure will be the next round - already the fifth - of CinemaScope in its inspired early period, reborn because of the privileged opportunity to project the restored or best prints available in the glorious Arlecchino cinema. The masters this year will be Samuel Fuller, Budd Boetticher, Anthony Mann, John Sturges, Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, Otto Preminger and, once again, Vincente Minnelli.
The Recovered & Restored section is pure pleasure. Jone (Ubaldo Maria Del Colle, 1913) and A Santanotte (Elvira Notari, 1922) are the earliest, along with an even rarer film, The Springtime of Life (1912), which was directed by the Frenchman Paul Garbagni and starred all three future masters of the golden age of Swedish cinema - Sjöström, Stiller, af Klercker! The early films are followed by Humphrey Bogart's first film (Love Affair, 1932), Julien Duvivier's La Bandera (1934), the high point of "colonialist cinema" and the birth of the Gabin myth, and two powerful films from David Lean, whose 100th anniversary is celebrated by the British Film Institute: In Which We Serve (1942, co-directed by Noël Coward) and a film about test pilots of space flights (a precursor of The Right Stuff), The Sound Barrier (1952). The French version of Max Ophuls' Lola Montès (1955) has finally been restored! And Lionel Rogosin's powerful documentary, Good Times, Wonderful Times (1966).
A word about our theatres. Sala Scorsese - where you'd often do best if you are there in good time - for the silents, Sala Mastroianni/Officinema for cinema with sound materials. The Cinema Arlecchino - originally designed for CinemaScope - is for "more spectacular films, as for example, the magic of light as conceived by Josef von Sternberg. The Piazza Maggiore remains the place that often leaves the strongest memories. Among this years specialties, two musical evenings - with Timothy Brock - who also holds a remarkable role as composer and arranger - conducting the Opera Orchestra of Bologna; on Tuesday July 1st, Neil Brand will premiere his new score for Hitchcock's greatest silent film Blackmail, and the evening of Saturday July 5th is dedicated to the avant-garde, with legendary titles from René Clair, Walter Ruttmann, Fernand Léger, Oscar Fischinger... with music of the caliber of Satie, Antheil... Two wonderful open-air concerts, free for the festival audience and the citizens of Bologna.
The festival also sponsors the Film Publishing Fair (Books, DVDs, Antiquarian and Vintage Materials) and Il Cinema Ritrovato DVD Award (5th edition). We would like to remind you that Il Cinema Ritrovato will host 3 seminars: the continuation of the Film Restoration Summer School / FIAF Summer School 2008 organized by Cineteca di Bologna, a workshop for European exhibitors organized by Europa Cinemas and Schermi e Lavagne Project, and a 2-day training program for archivists on digital preservation and access to film collections, organized by the European Project EDCine. Enrollment in each seminar requires separate registration, available on the website indicated below.
You are most cordially welcomed to the most memorable eight days of 2008.
We look forward to seeing you all in Bologna!
Peter von Bagh
Gian Paolo Testa
Cineteca del Comune di Bologna and Mostra Internazionale del Cinema Libero
Via Riva di Reno 72 - 40122 Bologna - Italy