Bologna 2011

Conrad Veidt features on the poster for this year’s Il Cinema Ritrovato

Bologna, Italy is home to one of the world’s leading festival of archive and restored films, Il Cinema Ritrovato. The festival always includes a strong representation of silent films, which are enriched all the more for being exhibited alongside films from later periods. This year’s festival takes place 25 June-2 July, and the main themes have been announced. Below are the blurbs supplied so far for those sections with silent films included.

Howard Hawks
After Frank Capra and John Ford, this year’s big retrospective offers up spectacular editions of early works and later masterpieces by Howard Hawks, the genuine auteur of American film, the “great craftsman” whose stature as a maestro was affirmed by Cahiers in the 50s and a person who influenced the creation of the Hollywood myth as much as the same Ford and Hitchcock. Hawks who challenged and transcended every production condition, Hawks friend to Hemingway, Hawks narrator of the most memorable and ambiguous male relationships in film history, Hawks inventor of a powerful new American female archetype, Hawks relentless creator of his own legend, Hawks who in fifty years covered every genre of film without losing his grip on his incomparable style. We will show all Hawks’s silent films available today (Fig Leaves, The Cradle Snatchers, Paid to Love, A Girl in Every Port, Fazil, Trent’s Last Case) and many sound films from the 30s, starting with his first The Dawn Patrol from 1930 to Barbary Coast from 1935, rare flicks such as Criminal Code, The Crowd Roars, Tiger Shark and milestones of gangster movie and screwball comedy genres such as Scarface, Shame of a Nation and Twentieth Century. And that’s not all; we are working on showing Hawks classics that are the height of their genre and continue to be a thrilling visual adventure, from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to The Big Sleep. “The evidence on the screen is the proof of Hawks’s genius” wrote Jacques Rivette in 1953. Watch it, and watch it again.

Conrad Veidt, from Caligari to Casablanca
After years of research, this year’s festival will be the one which finally pays tribute to Conrad Veidt, the great actor of silent German film, the sublime mask of expressionism. The “strange creature” of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari lent his long face with throbbing veins to Wiene, Oswald, Pabst and Leni in various films of the 20s, before leaving Nazi Germany in 1934 and starting an English career that reached its apex with director Michael Powell (The Thief of Baghdad). Veidt’s career and life came to an end in America, where he acted in a few militant anti-Nazi films but is best known for his role as Major Heinrich Strasser, shot dead in the final scene of Casablanca.

Alice Guy: Tribute to a Pioneer of Cinema
Alice Guy Blaché’s story is like no other in the history of moving images: a woman and pioneering filmmaker, Alice was at the forefront of the technological, industrial, and cultural changes that made cinema the new form of mass-media entertainment. From early sound technology, like Gaumont’s Chronophone synchronized sound system, to her American production adventure with Solax (1910-1914), from distribution with the U.S. Amusement Corporation (1916) to feature length films such as The Ocean Waif (1916), Alice Guy participated in every aspect of the evolving motion picture business, adapting to new developments and challenges. Although Alice Guy is most celebrated as the first woman director in film history, this achievement only scratches the surface of her vast accomplishments. She paved the way for women as creative professionals and as powerful agents of economic and social change. Our program features a selection of films produced by Alice Guy’s American company Solax as well as early films she directed at Gaumont and a feature film she made as an independent working in the U.S. industry.

Boris Barnet, Poetic Visions of Everyday Life
Our vast tribute to Boris Barnet spans from early Soviet cinema to the 1960s. Barnet debuted as an actor in the legendary Mister Vest by Kulešov before beginning his career as a director. Refusing to yield to genre formulas, Barnet was all but completely ignored by the mainstream and received off and on criticism. Surrounded by great “revolutionary” filmmakers, the work of this artist faded into the background. Today, however, Barnet is considered one of the most interesting and pioneering directors of classic Soviet film for his narrative style that balances lyricism, irony, spontaneity and drama in a constant dialogue between playground and reality. A view of the world and of humanity that we discover following the “Barnetian” hero from everyday adventures in silent films from the 1920s to Barnet’s final intimist works Alenka (1961) and Polustanok (The Whistle Stop, 1965), interspersed with masterpieces, such as Okraina (The Outskirts, 1933), about the Great War at the turn of the Revolution, and the surreal U samogo sinego morja (By the Bluest of Seas, 1934). Other works include Staryj naezdnik (The Old Jockey), a 1940 comedy that was dear to the director but was banned until 1959, films made during the war between 1941 and 1944, and Podvig razvedčika (Secret Agent, 1947) in which Barnet also acts, admirably playing a German official.

Progetto Chaplin
Here we are pleased to announce some of the programs of the ten year project Progetto Chaplin: Kate Guyonvarch and the author Lisa Stein will present the new biography Syd Chaplin, a unique portrait of Sydney Chaplin’s life and art that also sheds light on unexplored areas of Charlie’s career (the presentation will feature a screening of rare home movies); finally two ‘four-hand’ dossiers: one with Kevin Brownlow dedicated to Eddie Sutherland (director, actor, assistant director to Chaplin in A Woman of Paris and The Gold Rush) also featuring a selection of his silent and sound films; and the other with David Robinson will explore, through the analysis of the archival drafts, Chaplin’s script of The Great Dictator.

Bologna is releasing more information on the festival in advance than is usually the case, which is welcome, and it promises in its next newsletter that there will be information on two further sections, Recovered and Restored, Searching for the color of film and the hardy annual 100 years ago: the films of 1911. Additionally there is a programme strand At the Heart of 20th Century: Socialism between Fear and Utopia, which doesn’t mention any silents, but could conceivably include some, and the evening open-air screenings in the Piazza Maggiore, which will include Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Thief of Bagdad (1940), Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), and America America by Elia Kazan (1963).

Information on the festival (in Italian and English), including locations, hotels and extensive details of past festivals are available on the Il Cinema Ritrovato site. And we’ll have more on the colour and 1911 programmes as and when they appear.

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