Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Il Cinema Ritrovato 2015

The gates of heaven will be opened once more on June 27th. If you don't know about Bologna's Il Cinema Ritrovato, then maybe you're looking for the gate in the wrong place.
The festival of international cinephilia, film history and preservation, a year after losing the irreplaceable Peter von Bagh, is more or less following Peter's guidelines and the road map he drew before his passing in September 2014. (See my homage to Peter here.)

According to the festival's official newsletter, the XXIX edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato will take place from June 27th to July 4th:

"About 360 films from 1895 till today (all with English subtitles), 5 theatres from dawn till dusk, as well as open air evening screenings in Bologna’s wonderful main square, Piazza Maggiore, and in Cineteca’s courtyard, Piazzetta Pasolini. 8 fulfilling and memorable days to dive into the pleasure of unique screenings, to discover the best prints and digital restorations from the most important film archives and institutions all over the world, to meet the main exponents of film history as well as current cinema."

The major strands in the festival, loosely categorized in three parts, are announced, and I'm glad to say that the jazz section (called Jazz Goes to the Movies) is curated by me and Jonathan Rosenbaum in which some newly restored jazz films, as well as standard classics will be screened.

So for now, this is what seems like a full week's plan in Bologna:


  • Recovered and Restored
  • Seriously Funny, the Films of Leo McCarey
"Starting with his movie apprenticeship at the Hal Roach Studios in the 1920s working with Laurel & Hardy and Charley Chase, Leo McCarey always focused on people and what he told Peter Bogdanovich was “the ineluctability of incidents.” Mole hills became mountains as the quirks, foibles, and piccadilloes of McCarey’s all too human characters bounced off each other and created an escalating chain of events. Using this “Particle Theory of Comedy” McCarey’s always seriously funny outlook gave birth to some of the 1930s most memorable classic comedies like Duck Soup (1933), Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), and The Awful Truth (1937), in addition to explorations of the bittersweet such as Love Affair (1939), and finally led to the darker examinations of the human condition in Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) and Good Sam (1948). Whether his comic anti-heroes and anti-heroines were Laurel & Hardy, Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, or father Bing Crosby and sister Ingrid Bergman, McCarey straddled silent slapstick, screwball comedy, light romance, sentimental melodrama, and even religious instruction, and managed to derail each genre in his own individual way." Programme curated by Steve Massa, in collaboration with Lobster Films 
  • Peter Forever, Homage to Peter von Bagh

  • Jazz Goes to the Movies
"A lively 'jam session' between reality and fiction, this programme explores 'the jazz life' in cinema, both for its participants and for its audience, in both documentaries and fiction films. Along with major documentaries such as Jammin' the Blues and Jazz on a Summer's Day, the programme features fiction films in which famous jazz musicians play themselves (Charles Mingus and Dave Brubeck in All Night Long) and in which listening to jazz plays a significant role (Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire and Charles Burnett's When it Rains). We'll present new restorations of early sound jazz films (Dudley Murphy's Black and Tan Fantasy), as well as rarely screened Soundies (short musical films from the 40's)." Programme curated by Jonathan Rosenbaum and Ehsan Khoshbakht.

  • Beautiful Youth: Renato Castellani
  • Shorts Italian Style – part II
  • Post War Italian Rarities
  • Ingrid Bergman - Early Years
"Ingrid Bergman, the early years 2015 marks the centenary of the birth of Ingrid Bergman, which we celebrate with a program focusing on her early career in Sweden, before she became a Hollywood star. Making her debut in the mid 1930’s, Bergman immediately revealed a remarkable natural presence on the screen, bringing character and depth to the roles she portrayed; often directed by Gustaf Molander, and almost always shot by cinematographer Åke Dahlquist. Bergman’s acting skills and versatility is manifested in the great variety of parts she played, ranging from innocent hotel employee to disfigured leader of a blackmail ring... We are happy to bring a handful of her best pre-American films to Il Cinema Ritrovato; films which deserves a broader presentation and a wider recognition. The programme, curated by Jon Wengström of the Swedish Film Institute, also includes some rare shorts."


  • About a Hundred Years Ago. 1915
  • The Keaton Project
After devoting many years to restoring Charlie Chaplins' films, Cineteca di Bologna and L’Immagine Ritrovata have announced "a new, multi-year project to restore the works of another great master of the silent era: Buster Keaton. The Keaton Project, carried out in partnership with Cohen Film Collection, will be officially launched at this year’s festival with two brand new restorations: 1920 short One Week – a perfect representation (and sublimation) of the all-American ready-made house – and Sherlock Jr. (1924), an early example of film within a film and an impeccable silent comedy showcasing all of Buster Keaton virtues: his deadpan humor, his innovative technical accomplishments, his outstanding stunts and a great wealth of perfect gags. The two restoration s will be presented in Piazza Maggiore accompanied live by Timothy Brock’s original scores and performed by the Bologna Opera House Orchestra." 
  • Valentina Frascaroli, Leading Lady
  • Beloved Bluebird
  • The Velle Connection 1900-1930: Gaston, Maurice and Mary Murillo
  • Gaumont, 120 Years


  • Colors of Japan
"When Jigokumon (Gate of Hell) reached the US in 1954, New York Times critic Bosley Crowther hailed “color of a richness and harmony that matches that of any film we've ever seen”, displaying subtleties that rendered it “comparable to the best in Japanese art”. The film's success at Cannes, where it scooped the top prize, and in Hollywood, where it took the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, owed much to its visually splendid use of the imported Eastmancolor process. But the Japanese cinema's embrace of colour was a varied and multi-faceted experience, as our program illustrates. After silent-era tinting and pre-war experimentation, Japan produced its first successful colour feature, Karumen kokyo ni kaeru< /i> (Carmen Comes Home) at Shochiku in the domestic FujiColor process. Through the first half of the 1950s, all Japan's major studios, and filmmakers ranging from such elite talents as Keisuke Kinoshita and Kenji Mizoguchi to skilled artisans like Kazuo Mori and Hideo Oba, began to investigate the rich possibilities of the new medium, both for bringing to life Japan's historical past, and for recording the rapidly changing present." The retrospective is curated by Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström, in collaboration with the National Film Center of Tokyo.

  • Looking for Colors in Film: from Pochoir to Technicolor
  • The Soviet Thaw: 1953-1957
  • World Cinema Project
  • Armenia, the Genocide and After
  • Albert Samama-Chikli, Pioneer of African Cinema

Still, more to come.

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