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Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, XXVI Edizione: Don't Cry Over Spilt Celluloid

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

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.
Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna
Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna

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.”  

This article is related to: Festivals, Festivals

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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.