Wednesday 12 June 2024

Symphonies in Black: Duke Ellington Shorts

Black & Tan

Symphonies in Black: Duke Ellington Shorts

A programme by Jonathan Rosenbaum and Ehsan Khoshbakht (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, June 2024)

Introductory note by Jonathan Rosenbaum

In 16 shorts made over a stretch of almost a quarter of a century (1929-1953), Duke Ellington and his Orchestra perform in a variety of settings, often with dancers and singers – including Billie Holiday in Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life. The latter cuts freely between Ellington alone in thoughtful composing mode, Ellington in a tux performing the same extended composition with his band at a concert, arty images of men engaged in heavy labour, a wordless church sermon, a nightclub floorshow, and even a short stretch of story showing Holiday being pushed to the ground by an ungrateful lover before singing there about her misery – a near replica of the musical setup accorded to Bessie Smith in her only film appearance six years earlier.

Indeed, although the pleasures to be found here are chiefly musical, the narrative pretexts for these performances offer a fascinating look at how both jazz and Black musicians were perceived and expected to behave during the first three decades of talkies. At least half of the films are Soundies made for sound-and-image jukeboxes in the 40s, but even these often trade on narrative details such as the adoring women digging the solos by Ray Nance, Rex Stewart, Ben Webster, and others at an “eatery” after hours in Jam Session (1942), or the spectacular dancing by athletic jitterbugging couples in Hot Chocolate (Cottontail) from the same year.

Friday 7 June 2024

Il Cinema Ritrovato 2024 | Almost All the Titles

Jean-Luc Godard at Il Cinema Ritrovato 1998

More or less all the titles to be screened during Il Cinema Ritrovato 2024. There might be some titles listed more than once, as well as potential typos and incorrect attributions, all my mistake. Between features and shorts, we will present close to 500 titles produced in 35 countries and sourced from more than 140 archives. – EK

Sunday 2 June 2024

Guide to Kozaburo Yoshimura at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2024

Kozaburo Yoshimura

Guide to Kozaburo Yoshimura at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2024

By Alexander Jacoby

Kozaburo Yoshimura (1911-2000) is one of the neglected masters of classical Japanese film. An almost exact contemporary of Akira Kurosawa and Keisuke Kinoshita, he was responsible for some of the postwar Japanese cinema’s most compelling films, which bear eloquent witness to social change in a rapidly modernising country. But these are dramas above all, which grip and move audiences; as Tadao Sato wrote, they are “not mere social criticism, but films that flesh out the human element of the story”.

Monday 27 May 2024

Anatole Litvak Retrospective | The Schedule

Anatole Litvak (in the middle) with his buddies Billy Wilder and John Huston


Viaggio nella notte: il mondo di Anatole Litvak

Il Cinema Ritrovato 2024

All the screenings at the Jolly cinema

The schedule subject to change until official announcement in early June

A couple more screenings will be added to other venues, including to Modernissimo's schedule

Where to Begin with Gustaf Molander | Jon Wengström​​'s Il Cinema Ritrovato Guide

Gustaf Molander

Jon Wengström​​, the archive Senior Curator of the Swedish Film Institute, has curated a programme dedicated to Swedish master Gustaf Molander. This retrospective will take place at Bologna's Il Cinema Ritrovato in June 2024. Jon has blogged here, giving you some tips about what to see in that strand, that is if you don't want to see every single Molander which I think you should. – EK

Guide to Gustaf Molander at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2024

By Jon Wengström

Gustaf Molander made almost 70 films in a career that lasted more than half a century, and his trajectory as a director is parallel to that of the development of the Swedish film industry. He wrote the script to Terje Vigen (Victor Sjöström, 1917), which was the starting point of the Golden Age of Swedish silent cinema, and he directed the era’s epilogue with the Selma Lagerlöf adaptations Ingmarsarvet (1925) and its sequel Till Österland (1926). He was one of the very few Swedish directors who handled the transition to sound successfully, as proven by En natt (1931). During the 1940s, more than any other Swedish filmmaker, he made films that reflected the war and its aftermath, and after collaborations with a young Ingmar Bergman, including Woman Without a Face (1947), in the 1950s Molander made remakes of classic silent films in colour and Cinemascope, as a response to the advent of television.

Thursday 23 May 2024

The Deep Blue Sea (Anatole Litvak, 1955)

Italian poster for The Deep Blue Sea

The Deep Blue Sea plays as part of the Anatole Litvak retrospective at Il Cinema Ritrovato, on June 28, 2024. The note below from the the festival catalogue. – EK


This rarest of all Anatole Litvak films is about Hester, a middle-aged woman whose suicide attempt at the beginning of the story sparks off two flashbacks, one from the point of view of the upper-class husband she has abandoned and the other from the view of the younger, capricious ex-RAF pilot for whom she has left her husband. Back to the present, the film revolves around her desperate attempt to win back her lover, only to realise she is yearning for something she can’t have.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Entezar (Amir Naderi, 1974)

Entezar [Waiting]

Playing at Il Cinema Ritrovato, June 25, 2024.

Entezar, Amir Naderi’s second film for Kanoon – the Iranian institution in charge of producing cultural goods, including films, for children and young adults – was a deft and calculated move away from the gritty street dramas and crime films of the early 1970s that made Naderi famous but also left him feel artistically unfulfilled.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

The Sealed Soil [Khak-e Sar bé Mohr] (Marva Nabili, 1977)

The Sealed Soil

The digital restoration of The Sealed Soil [Khak-e Sar bé Mohr], directed by Marva Nabili, will be premiered at UCLA Film & Television Archive on June 15 and a week later at Bologna's Il Cinema Ritrovato.

Khak-e Sar bé Mohr chronicles the repetitive and repressed life of Roo-Bekheir, a young woman in a poor village in southwest Iran, and her resistance to forced marriage. It’s a formally rigorous, if emotionally distanced, critique of patriarchy and the spurious reform of Iranian agricultural life that was a factor in the 1979 revolution.

Sunday 12 May 2024

Jacques Tati, tombé de la lune (Jean-Baptiste Péretié, 2022)

Jacques Tati, tombé de la lune

Jacques Tati, tombé de la lune (2022) 

Directed by Jean-Baptiste Péretié

Jacques Tati needs no introduction but it is exactly the kind of "filmmaker who needs no introduction" that is worth revisiting repeatedly, in viewing, in film literature and now in the increasingly popular format of television documentaries. Jean-Baptiste Péretié, director of other works on Keaton, Al Pacino and John Wayne, has efficiently captured the jazzy architecture of Tati's universe in this fine introduction to a jolly genius.

Monday 8 April 2024

Designed on Celluloid: Architecture in Silent Cinema

High Treason

Samantha Leroy, in charge of "la programmation et d’exploitation" at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé in Paris asked me to curate a season on architecture and silent cinema. This short essay was written to accompany my 40-film selection for a retrospective which was held in conjunction with an architecture exhibition, dedicated to Renzo Piano's magical design for the Fondation's building in the south of Paris. – Ehsan Khoshbakht

A love story of sorts, the relation between cinema and architecture. Architecture saw in the cinema what it had dreamed of for centuries: being equipped with eyes more penetrating and observant than those of human beings, a tool that could examine architecture from every possible angle and measure it in time. Cinema, in return, found incredible potential in architecture when architectural monuments and soon studio-built sets added attraction, realism, and drama to the movies.