Il Cinema Ritrovato, the annual festival organized by the Cineteca di Bologna and dedicated to the rediscovery of rare and little-known films from all over the world, will take place in Bologna, Italy from June 24 to July 2. The festival will feature a selection of 400 films, closing officially with a screening an open air screening in the city’s Piazza Maggiore, followed by an entire day of repeats of highlights from the program on July 2.
The first round of program announcements has been officially made regarding this year’s edition.
Neil McGlone and filmmaker Alexander Payne have curated a series of films that take place on Sunday. The program includes People on Sunday (1930), Gustav Machatý’s first talky Ze soboty na neděli (From Saturday to Sunday, 1931) and Rober Hamer’s post-war bleak British thriller It Always Rains on Sunday, produced by Ealing Studios in 1947. The entire series will be shown appropriately on Sunday, June 25.
After the success of Il Cinema Ritrovato’s focus on the Iranian new wave of the 1960’s from last year’s program, this year the festival will present a focus entirely dedicated to 1950s Iranian film noirs directed by one of the most popular and influential figures of Iranian cinema: Samuel Khachikian. The films, set in Tehran, have rarely if ever been screened outside of Iran.
Following the tradition of highlighting the works of lesser known Italian filmmakers worthy of being re-discovered, Il Cinema Ritrovato 2017 will also feature a retrospective of the works of Augusto Genna, described in a festival official statement as “one of the most cosmopolitan directors of Italian film history.” His career began in the 1910’s, with productions in France and Germany. He successfully made a transition to talkies and became known for his Fascist war films in the 1930’s, that according to the same official statement combined “exoticism and abstraction.” He remained active after the war and until his death, in 1957. During this late period, he directed Heaven Over the Marshes in 1949, a quasi-neo-realist exercise allegedly beloved and oft-quoted by celebrated film theorist André Bazin.
Likewise, the Bologna celebration of cinema will pay homage to another forgotten figure: the American director William K. Howard. Despite directing such acclaimed works as The Trial of Vivienne Ware (1932) and the celebrated “narratage” feature The Power and the Glory (1933), the latter of which was screened at last year’s Il Cinema Ritrovato, Howard is barely remembered today. This program dedicated to him, curated by Dave Kehr in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art, New York, aims to revitalize his legacy.
The figure of French novelist Colette offers a starting point for a series that as an official statement from Il Cinema Ritrovato reads, “leads to the discovery of a French cinema written, shot or produced by women.” Paying tribute to the influence of Colette, who is best known for her novella Gigi but was also involved in cinematic production in a number of various and surprising ways, this series curated by Mariann Lewinsky and Emilie Cauquy also exhibits contributions to the filmic medium by other less known figures such as Simone Berriau, Solange Térac, Yannick Bellon and Musidora, Colette’s lifelong friend.
Moving on, we find an exciting series of cinema of Japan under the militaristic regime of the 1930s and, particularly, the jidai-geki genre, which may be translated as period drama, and opted for realism instead of stylization – a wave of pessimism (and naturalism, one might add) may also be noticed in the major works of this wave of films. Along with such well-known works as Sadao Yamanaka’s Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937), “The Japanese Period Film in the Valley of Darkness” program includes lesser-known titles rarely screened outside of its country of origins, as well as Tamizo Ishida’s Fallen Blossoms (1938), which offers a unique female gaze on the period.
Each year, Il Cinema Ritrovato spotlights films from “100 years ago.” This year, the focus will be on one of the most horrible years in world history, 1915, marred by ongoing wars. The program will highlight sixty feature films from this years – including Protazanov’s Blood Need Not Be Spilled starring Ivan Mosjoukine – as well as documentaries, fragments, and animation films.
People who attended last year’s edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato from all over the world should be particularly pleased to know that the festival will host a part two of its program dedicated to films released by Universal Pictures during the tenure of Carl Laemmle, Junior as the studio’s head of production. Once again, many of the films in the series have somehow been forgotten and are in dire need of being rediscovered by international audiences. Tod Browning’s crime film Outside the Law (1930) and The Road Back (1937), James Whale’s sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front, particularly catch the eye.
Judging from this first round of official announcements, the 2017 edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato will, once again, be incredibly exciting. Nonetheless, these announcements only seem to scrape the surface of what is sure to be a highlight year for cinephiles everywhere. Other sections to be announced include strands named “Looking for Film Colors: from Kinemacolor to Technicolor,” “Revolution and Adventure: Mexican Cinema in the Golden Age,” and tributes to Jean Vigo, Helmut Kautner, Bill Morrison and Emile Cohl.
Besides screenings, the festival will also host many lectures, restoration case-studies, the 14th edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato DVD Awards, highlight open air screenings at the Piazza Maggiore, the book fair and many guests. For more information, go to https://festival.ilcinemaritrovato.it/en/