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Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, XXVI Edizione - Day Three: A Cork Bobbing on the Cinephilic Seas of Chance

Photo of Meredith Brody By Meredith Brody | Thompson on Hollywood June 27, 2012 at 1:25PM

I really didn’t intend to watch all 171 minutes of Roman Polanski’s “Tess” under the starry night sky of Bologna, even laved by the cool breezes that feel so sweet after a sticky warm day...

Afterwards I headed off to finally catch a movie into the retrospective of Ivan Pyr’ev, “Enigma of Mosfilm.”  Once again the importance of reading every single word of a densely-printed 280-page catalogue was brought back to me: I thought I was coming to see a brightly-colored musical, but Jim Hoberman and programmer Olaf Moller laughed at my naiveté and just before the lights went out told me that "Sekretar Rojkoma" (1942) was a black-and-white WWII epic. The musicals, it seemed, were either just past or coming later in the week. Looking on the bright side, Moller said it just proved that the versatile Pyr’ev could do anything. It moved like a freight train – fast, but occasionally clunky – and was my first experience here with simultaneous translation, better than nothing but, combined with the frantic pace and Italian subtitles, exhausting.

Still I was ready for a 163-minute documentary, “Celluloid Man: A Film on P.K. Nair,” by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, about a famed Indian archivist and influential film scholar who has somehow been detached from the Pune Film Insitute, whose National Film Archive that he created seems now to be rotting away, unprotected. I was no wiser as to exactly why this had happened after watching the movie (nor was my seatmate Scott Foundas), but we agreed that the movie was riveting – we had thought maybe we’d duck out and catch a movie by silent film director Lois Weber if we’d had enough after a while – and made us want to see more Indian movies, as well as other masterpieces glimpsed here and there as P.K.Nair and his many students and supporters reminisced about their pantheon of film.

Afterwards I stuck around for a panel discussion on cinephilia in the age of the Internet, with Jonathan Rosenbaum, Miguel Marias, and Girish Shambu, which resulted in notes on too many new websites and blogs I thought I needs must check out.  As soon as I find a few more hours in the day.  Another panel discussion from yesterday that I missed, with Jim Hoberman and Ian Christie, can be found here.

The two unprogrammed hours before “Tess” led three of us to Ristorante da Nello (Via Monte Grappo, 9/2), and, eventually, a lovely plate of vitello tonnato. I forswore the temptations of prosecco so I could relish every moment of “Tess.”  

Tomorrow?  Ophul’s “Komedie onm Geld,” and Walsh’s “Kindred of the Dust,” and a few more.  And I’ve been told that the best title in the Alma Reville tribute is Thursday night’s “The First Born,” which, and I’m sure much to musician Stephen Horne’s relief, has been moved off the Piazza Maggiore and its noisy competition of Italy’s semi-final soccer game in the World Cup indoors to the Cinema Arlecchino. The soccer fans will be cheering opposite a re-run of “Point Blank.” Walker can take it.

This article is related to: Festivals, Festivals, Guest Blogger, Foreign, Classics, Roman Polanski

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.