To borrow a formulation from Proust: for a long time I wanted to go to what is perhaps the most cinephilic of all film festivals, Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna. A quirk of timing – my family always got together over the 4th of July weekend, which often was exactly when Bologna was scheduled – and perhaps a bit of anhedonia kept me away. And justification, aka kidding oneself: they’re doing an homage to Frank Capra, I’ve seen them all. They’re programming early John Ford, I’ve seen them all. Both of which are not quite true – there’s always something I haven’t seen -- plus I was careful not to learn too much about what else Bologna was programming.
But now that I’m here for the first time, after not quite a full day of screenings, I am seriously in love and can’t imagine ever missing an edizione again. Reading the program last night and studying the catalogue today was an exercise in pleasure mixed with pain: all the rubrics sounded irresistible (even, I must admit, ones featuring movies I’d seen before). From 9 a.m. through 8 p.m., four theaters show programs opposite one another. At ten p.m., famously, all of Bologna who cares to shows up in the Piazza Maggiore for a free screening in the cool night air (after what is, also famously, a rather hot and humid day).
So. This year’s model. Every year since 2003 there’s a section devoted to movies of exactly a hundred years ago: hence, 13 programs of rarities and obscure shorts from 1912, of which I am immediately drawn to Programma 6, “J’ai deux amours: La Pathe et Paris,” and Programma 7, “Current Affairs and Fashion.”
“After the Crash: Cinema and the 1929 Crisis” offers ten fiction films that deal with the Great Depression. Masters of Italian Documentary offers films by the unknown-to-me Raffaele Andrassi, Gian Vittorio Baldi, Aglauco Casadio, Luigi di Gianni, Cecilia Mangini, Elio Piccon, Florestano Vancini, and the somewhat-known-but-mostly-by-reputation Mario Ruspoli. A brief Indian tribute offers a film on an archivist, “Celluloid Man: A Film on P.K. Nair,” and a restoration of a 1948 film directed by and starring Ravi Shankar’s brother, the dancer Uday Shankar, “Kalpana.”