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Il Cinema Ritrovato
Bologna, from 24 June to 2 July 2017
This year there is something old and something new, so let’s start with the classics. Like a time machine Il Cinema Ritrovato will travel across three centuries of cinema, from the end of the 1800s to the beginning of the 2000s; and like a space machine it will take us on multiple trips with European, American, African, Asian and Latin American films.
As always, the festival offers the unique opportunity to discover films we have never seen before and rediscovering ones we have always loved in their best version, in new restorations and in ideal screening conditions. Anyone who has been to Il Cinema Ritrovato knows that each edition is an unrepeatable experience made of extraordinary ingredients. The discovery of a beautiful city, which for a one long week is devoted to cinema and filmlovers; the work of many outstanding scholars; a selection of 400 films, each one remarkable for its beauty, meaning and rarity; guests of the highest order; a passionate and knowledgeable audience that converges in Bologna from all over the world. It’s a genuine film museum open just eight days a year – actually, the first bit of news is that this year it’s open for nine. As is tradition, the festival officially ends with an evening screening in Piazza Maggiore on Saturday, July 1. However Sunday, July 2 will be a day of repeats for all those who are still in Bologna and might want to catch films they missed during the week…
Here’s a first teaser of what we’re working on, including a tribute by Bernard Eisenschitz and Philippe Garnier to one of the brightest, sexiest and most unforgettable stars of Hollywood: Robert Mitchum.
Most Cinema Ritrovato patrons are already acquainted with People on Sunday (1930), but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All the films in this series take place on Sunday, the traditional day of rest when anything can happen. The program includes Gustav Machatý’s first talky Ze soboty na neděli (From Saturday to Sunday, 1931) an avant-garde masterpiece of inventive early sound; Robert Hamer’s bleak, post-war British thriller It Always Rains on Sunday (1947); and Luciano Emmer’s utterly enchanting post-war document Domenica d’agosto (1950), which interweaves five stories of city folk fleeing a hot Sunday in Rome for a day at the beach. Other jewels include Serge Bourguinon’s Sundays and Cybele (1962), Drahomíra Vihanová’s Zabitá neděle (Squandered Sunday, 1969), and a sprinkling of shorts featuring Jacques Tati’s 1935 Gai dimanche. The entire series will be shown on – when else? – Sunday!
Programme curated by Neil McGlone and Alexander Payne
Femme fatales, private detectives, rainy nights in a concrete jungle, desperate men in trench coats… It all sounds like a film noir, and in fact, it is, but set in a time and place you would expect least: Tehran of the 1950s! This year, Il Cinema Ritrovato shifts its focus from the Iranian new wave of the 1960s to a decade earlier and the golden age of Iranian genre films, by unearthing four films directed by one of the most popular and influential figures in the history of Iranian cinema, Samuel Khachikian. The films, never screened outside Iran, show Khachikian at the peak of his career and working in his most familiar territories of film policier, thriller and film noir which both documented Iran on the point of modernisation and, through the myth of cinema, contributed to it. In the world of these delightfully stylish, low-key films an overlooked face of Iranian cinema is to be discovered.
Programme curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht and Behdad Amini, in collaboration with National Film Archive of Iran
Augusto Genina (1892-1957) is one of the most cosmopolitan directors of Italian film history. His work in cinema began in the early 1910s, and he worked in both France and Germany. Often creating portraits of mischievous women, Genina directed a landmark film in the transition from silent to sound (Prix de beauté, with Louise Brooks). In the 1930s he made fascist war films that combined exoticism and abstraction (Lo squadrone bianco). During the post-war period, Genina’s cinema reflects two sides of his personality: on the one hand, experiments with Catholic variants of Neorealism (Cielo sulla palude, which Bazin loved) and melodrama (Maddalena), and, on the other, the libertine spirit of the belle époque (Frou Frou). A European director of myriad guises and seasons.
Programme curated by Emiliano Morreale
Because of a career cut short by struggles with alcohol and authority, William K. Howard is barely remembered today. But for the legendary cinematographer James Wong Howe, Howard was “the most creative director I ever worked with”, a judgment borne out by the technologically advanced, feverishly innovative films that Howard directed in the late 20s and early 30s for the Fox Film Corporation. The centerpiece of this mini-retrospective is Howard’s elusive early sound masterpiece Transatlantic (1931), now restored by the Museum of Modern Art to reveal the full power of Howard and Howe’s groundbreaking deep focus work. Among the other titles to be screened, The Trial of Vivienne Ware (1932) is a breathtakingly fast courtroom drama, with an inventive use of flashbacks that leads to the complex structure of Howard’s The Power and the Glory (1933), an epic tale of a railroad magnate (Spencer Tracy) that had a clear influence on Citizen Kane.
Programme curated by Dave Kehr, in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Colette was not only a writer, mime, actress and monumental figure of French literature. Her activities in the field of cinema were manifold and intense. The critics of Abel Gance’s Mater dolorosa and Itto by Marie Epstein and Jean Benoît-Lévy reveal the formidable eye of a film director. She admired Mae West in She Done Him Wrong, adapted Lac aux dames for Marc Allégret, wrote the French subtitles of Mädchen in Uniform, the screenplay Divine for Max Ophüls and the dialogues for the first film version of Gigi by Jacqueline Audry. The programme leads to the discovery of a French cinema written, shot or produces by women such as Simone Berriau, Solange Térac, Yannick Bellon and Musidora, Colette’s lifelong friend.
Programme curated by Mariann Lewinsky and Emilie Cauquy
Under the militarist regime of the late 1930s, the Japanese period film, or jidai-geki, became a refuge for liberal filmmakers seeking to comment critically on the troubles of the time. The Narutaki-gumi, an informal group of filmmakers pledged to modernise Japanese cinema, were at the heart of a new breed of jidai-geki, which opted for realism instead of stylisation and for ironic pessimism rather than heroic optimism. This programme focuses mainly on the films made at Toho studios by members of the Narutaki-gumi, and starring the Zenshin-za progressive kabuki troupe. Using novel techniques such as naturalistic acting and modern language in period settings, they brought a subversive vision to traditional jidai-geki We include both the canonical masterpiece, Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937), directed by doomed master Sadao Yamanaka, and lesser-known classics such as Hisatora Kumagai’s The Abe Clan (1938), which have rarely if ever been shown in the West. Alongside these films, Tamizo Ishida’s masterpiece, Fallen Blossoms (1938), offers a unique “women’s eye view” on Japan’s tumultuous history.
Programme curated by Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström, in collaboration with the National Film Center, Tokyo
The section deals with one of the most horrible years in world history. The ongoing war and the revolutions in Russia reduced the quantity of movies produced, but not their quality. You can expect to discover among some sixty feature films, documentaries, fragments and animation films such masterful works like Protazanov’s Blood Need Not Be Spilled, starring Ivan Mosjoukine, amazing actresses like Maria Orska, Pola Negri and Pauline Starke and popular idols like Gunnar Tolnæs. Follow the sessions on Gender Bender in the French army, on Beauty and Italian art direction and meet with expressionistic visuality avant la lettre.
Programme curated by Karl Wratschko and Mariann Lewinsky
Following last year’s revelatory Universal Pictures program, here is another selection of newly restored or rediscovered films released during the tenure of Carl Laemmle, Junior as the studio’s head of production. New restorations from Universal include Tod Browning’s scathing crime film Outside the Law (1930), featuring Edward G. Robinson (before Little Caesar), and Sensation Seekers, a “flaming youth” melodrama directed and written by the premiere female filmmaker of the silent era, Lois Weber. From the Library of Congress comes the long unavailable original release version of James Whale’s The Road Back, Universal’s sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front. To be presented in 35mm prints newly struck from the original camera negatives are five more rarely seen films, including Tay Garnett’s astounding parable of Christ among the bootleggers, Destination Unknown (1931) and E.A. Dupont’s rowdy, cynical tale of gold-diggers on Broadway, Ladies Must Love (1934).
Programme curated by Dave Kehr, in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art, New York and Universal Pictures



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