Tuesday, 21 June 2022

See You Friday, Robinson (Mitra Farahani, 2022)


See You Friday, Robinson (Mitra Farahani, 2022) plays at Il Cinema Ritrovato on June 28, 16:45 and July 1, 17:45

A long-distance dialogue between Ebrahim Golestan, a giant of Iranian cinema and literature (now only a few months shy of his 100th birthday) and Swiss-French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard forms the basis of this latest film by Mitra Farahani. Among the most gifted documentarians from Iran, Farahani mediates between two seemingly irreconcilable worlds to create a unique epistolary work. Its elegant, hybrid style takes us from encounters with shadows – the first time we see each of these artists – to the inner lives of flesh and blood individuals; vulnerable, pained, caring, endlessly searching. 

Saturday, 21 May 2022

A View into Yugoslav Cinema by Mina Radović

Man Is Not a Bird

During its XXXVI edition, Il Cinema Ritrovato will present a section dedicated to Yugoslav cinema. The curator of the programme, Mina Radović, has written an introductory article, discussing the ideas behind the selection, as well as the significance of each selected title. All the films will play at the Jolly cinema of Bologna between June 25 and July 2, 2022.

“Tell the Truth!” A View into Yugoslav Cinema, 1955-1969

By Mina Radović

Yugoslav cinema represents a rich, multifaceted, and for many film connoisseurs, untapped resource of film heritage. One of the most diverse states in twentieth century Europe, Yugoslavia was originally founded in 1918 in the aftermath of the First World War and the collapse of several empires as the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The country was governed as a constitutional monarchy governed by King Aleksandar Karađorđević and in 1929 the country changed its name to Yugoslavia – ‘the land of South Slavs’.

A hub of film culture, pedagogy, and production, the film industry was nationalised after the Second World War and a sophisticated studio system quickly emerged. The new government led by Josip Broz Tito turned Yugoslavia into a socialist country with its own brand of self-management and a form of diplomacy which connected East, West, and the ‘Non-Aligned’ world.

The post-war years saw the rise of formidable new artists who examined, mediated, and challenged contemporary Yugoslav reality, breaking social taboos, and forging new means of cinematic expression. Their work is often diametrically different, but they are connected by an innovative, experimental, and altogether refreshing spirit to see the world anew. The retrospective will present two decades of cinema, moving from the Classical Cinema of the 1950s to the New Yugoslav Film of the 1960s and incorporates a range of feature and short, fiction, documentary, and experimental films by master filmmakers of the era.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Iranian Films at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2022

The Carriage Driver (Nosrat Karimi, 1971), shot by Houshang Baharlou (Chess of the Wind)

The forthcoming edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato (June 25-July 3, 2022) doesn't include an individual strand for Iranian cinema, however, it'll nonetheless feature at least five dazzling Iranian films, made between 1961 and 2022, shown across 3 different strands.

The documentary section will see the Italian premiere of À vendredi, Robinson (Mitra Farahani, 2022), a dialogue between Ebrahim Golestan, a giant of Iranian cinema and literature (now only a few months shy of his 100th birthday) and Swiss-French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. This is a truly beautiful work and should prepare you for what comes next.

A Fire (Yek Atash) by Ebrahim Golestan was premiered at Venice Film Festival in 1961. We screened it in 2016 when a retrospective was dedicated to Golestan's cinema of poetry and politics. Now we have updated the faded 35mm print previously shown with a 4K restoration of the film, presented for the first time in its original Persian voice-over, spoken by a famous voice artist, Asadollah Peyman. (The 2016 screening was from an English-dubbed version.) 

Friday, 22 April 2022

Interview with Hugo Fregonese

Hugo Fregonese

Films Can't Played Off Too Fast; Public Catch Up, Declares Fregonese

By Richard Bernstein

(The Independent Film Journal, November 1952)

"Phoniness in pictures, as in money, has no real value,” explained Director Hugo Fregonese at lunch. Fregonese has just returned from Europe where he directed the Mike Frankovich production, Decameron Nights, which stars Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan.

“I feel that an audience can sense a formula picture,” Fregonese said. “An audience likes to be surprised. They don't like to see the same film over and over with a different cast.”

Fregonese pointed out that nowadays a film goes through the theatre circuit too fast. Many pictures are worth a holdover and don't get it. Pictures should be exploited like plays for longer runs. Many times a person finally gets time to see a picture and finds that it has gone. By the time word-of-mouth on a film gets around, a film is sometimes not even playing in the city anymore.

Friday, 15 April 2022

Cinema Reborn 2022 catalogue (featuring The Deer essay)

The 2022 edition of Cinema Reborn focuses on the worldwide activity of film preservation and restoration. Held in Sydney from April 27 to May 1, the festival would see the Aussie premiere of The Deer (Masoud Kimiai, 1974) on which I have written an essay for the festival catalogue. The catalogue is now available in digital format and print formats.

Download the catalogue (in PDF) here.

Friday, 25 March 2022

The Drifter's Escape: Hugo Fregonese


A retrospective at Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna (June 25-July 3, 2022)

Curated by Dave Kehr and Ehsan Khoshbakht

As swiftly as some directors changed studios, Hugo Fregonese (1908-87) changed countries. The perfect ‘saddle tramp’ figure, he drifted and made films about drifting and escape. A master of brisk and unsentimental westerns and crime thrillers, with a career spanning over four decades and numerous bases of production – from his home country Argentina, to America, Spain, Italy, the UK and West Germany – Fregonese’s cinema is unjustly underappreciated to the point of obscurity. This is a step in the direction of claiming him as an important figure; one whose cinema of impassioned subjectivity blends the aesthetic of low-budget films with fatalism, myth and raw violence. Fregonese’s name is often associated with the ten films he made during his five-year residency in Hollywood in the 1950s. This programme picks some of the finest from that period to screen alongside films made elsewhere. Forming one of the most coherent cinematic oeuvres that one could expect from a wandering director, this will be one of the major revelations of Il Cinema Ritrovato 2022.

Friday, 11 March 2022

The Prose-Poetry Cinema of Ebrahim Golestan

"And the earth is a woman, with reveries and roots," says the Iranian filmmaker Ebrahim Golestan, narrating over the image of a 3,000-year old skeleton as it is unearthed, in his short documentary The Hills of Marlik (1964). This is where the heart of the filmmaker, who recently turned 100, lies: in the earth, to which he returns repeatedly in his films...


Read the full essay -- a tribute to Ebrahim Golestan -- in the March 2022 issue of Sight & Sound magazine.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Company Cinema in Abadan — A History (by Abbas Baharloo)

Taj Cinema in Abadan

Commissioned by me and originally published in the now defunct Underline magazine, this piece by the prolific (and Abadani) historian of Iranian cinema, Abbas Baharloo, sheds light on a lesser-known and nonetheless very significant chapter in the history of film culture in pre-revolutionary Iran. — EK


The Anglo-Persian Oil Company ushered in a ‘golden age’ of cinema-going in Abadan before nationalisation in 1951. Overseen by the Company, however, popular entertainment and propaganda were mixed, and screenings did little to bridge social divisions. 

By Abbas Baharloo


Many years ago now, Abadan was a city that welcomed immigrants and a place where many settled. Its population was made up of people from many different Iranian and international cities; Isfahanis, Shirazis, Baluch, Kurds, Lors, Arabs, and Azeris lived alongside Britons, Americans, Indians, and people from Rangoon in Burma. At the time Abadan was a bustling city and a vibrant centre of all sorts of cultural and artistic activities. There were leisure clubs; modern cinemas; libraries housing books and other publications in Persian, English, and Arabic; theatre, photography, and gardening associations; concerts of Iranian and foreign music; lectures on literature, music and painting, and sporting competitions. Despite all this, in Abadan doors were not always open to everybody. The prominent Iranian filmmaker Nasser Taghvai, born in Abadan in 1941, remembers it thus:

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

This Gun For Hire (Frank Tuttle, 1942)

“Murder didn't mean much to Raven. It was just a new job”. These lines open Graham Greene's novel about an assassin with a cleft lip who is hired to kill a government minister, only to find himself double-crossed by his contractor. Enraged, he seeks revenge while the police are on his tail. Proving adept at translating many of the book's details to the screen, Tuttle was also chiefly responsible for inventing cinema's angelic killer, in the way he reshaped the image of the disfigured Raven into a shiningly handsome yet darkly destructive messenger of death. (The action was also transferred from pre-war England to wartime California). Given unprecedented freedom, Tuttle wrote a treatment based on the book, which Paramount obtained upon publication in 1936 but had abandoned as unfilmable. 

Saturday, 29 January 2022

Rivalry in the City

Tehran’s newly built modernist buildings shown during the title sequence of Reghabat dar Shahr [Rivalry in the City] (Uncredited, 1963)

This is the censored and re-edited version of Jonob-e Shahr [South of the City] (Farrokh Ghaffari, 1958)