ROME FILM FEST   

#RomaFF14 | Tributes and Restored Films

A TRIBUTE TO PIERO TOSI

Rome Film Fest pays homage to the great costume designer Piero Tosi with a series of events. A true master of his craft who had no peers, with his art Piero Tosi revolutionized costume design, tailoring it to each character in a film. More than just empty shells or mere decoration, Tosi’s outfits became the natural complement to the character’s personality. Seeking beauty was Tosi’s raison d’etre, and he found it in elegance, harmony, and artistic references to the history and social context of each film. After making his debut dressing Anna Magnani in Bellissima in 1948, his costumes would immortalize a series of characters who have become part of the collective imagination, from Ludwig to The Leopard, by way of the far more provocative outfits for The Night Porter. His was an unparalleled career that culminated in the Oscar® for Lifetime Achievement in 2013. Tosi took most joy, however, in teaching his craft at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia: “Being around young people is the greatest blessing; I learn from them,” he declared. During the 14th Rome Film Fest, two films featuring costumes by Tosi will be screened: Ludwig, directed by Luchino Visconti, alongside whom Tosi would work on many films, and Metello, directed by Mauro Bolognini. Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia pays tribute to Tosi with an exhibition of four costumes – inspired by years 1640 and 1690. Piero Tosi taught at CSC from 1988 to 2016 and his students made the costumes on display during his seminars on Costume Design, in collaboration with expert Luca Costigliolo.

 

Selected by Olivier Assayas

LUDWIG

by Luchino Visconti, Italy, France, West Germany, 1973, 238’

Cast: Helmut Berger, Trevor Howard, Romy Schneider, Silvana Mangano, Helmut Griem, Umberto Orsini

Chosen for the public by Olivier Assayas (in these pages we publish an excerpt from his 1983 essay for “Cahiers du Cinéma”), Ludwig, a biography of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, crowned in 1864, is the final part of the German trilogy that includes The Damned and Death in Venice. During his reign, Ludwig funded Richard Wagner’s work, cultivated a platonic love for his cousin Elizabeth, vainly opposed Bavaria’s participation in the Austro-Prussian war. As he aged precociously, he took refuge in his castles, was declared mentally ill and deposed by a government commission. He was found dead under mysterious circumstances on the shores of Lake Starnberg, on the night of June 13th 1886. The film, a commemoration of Pietro Tosi who was responsible for the costumes in this one of his many collaborations with Luchino Visconti, is a monument to Ludwig, an emblematic figure of Decadentismo and a typically Viscontian character, an aristocratic aesthete, removed from reality, politics and History, confined in the majestic castles he had built for himself. The film was originally distributed in a version from which one hour had been cut; it was lost when the distributor declared bankruptcy, and finally retrieved at an auction by Visconti’s collaborators, pieced back together in 1980 and screened at the Venice International Film Festival in its original version.

 

METELLO

by Mauro Bolognini, Italy, 1970, 111’

Cast: Massimo Ranieri, Ottavia Piccolo, Frank Wolff, Tina Aumont, Lucia Bosè

In a tribute to Piero Tosi, Rome Film Fest presents a film he made with Mauro Bolognini: Metello. In Florence at the turn of the last century, Metello, a young bricklayer whose anarchist father has died, takes part in the early workers’ revolts and conducts a complicated love life. First with a widow, Viola, but after he lands in prison for protesting at another worker’s funeral, he marries her daughter, Ersilia, who gives him a son, Libero. Then he has an affair with Idina, a middle-class matron. The socialists call for a general strike and Metello joins in; after over a month, the protesters come out victorious, but not before the police kill one worker. Metello lands in prison again, but he finally gives up Idina; when he gets out, he returns to Libero and Ersilia, pregnant once more. The film is based on the 1955 novel by Vasco Pratolini: a literary sensation when it came out, stirring intense debate among Marxist critics. Perhaps the high point and the last bloom of neorealist fiction, a coming-of-age novel that was also historical, ideological and lyrical, Metello combined its main character’s political education (from anarchism to socialism) and his sentimental education (from being a libertine to a faithful husband). For Bolognini, realism was less important than the psychology of the characters, the film’s emotional intensity, its melodramatic pathos and fin-de-siècle mood; but also, the elegance of the mise-en-scène, the rare sophistication of the storytelling, and the painterly effect of the lighting, which evoked the canvases of the macchiaioli painters.

 

TRIBUTES

 

Tribute to Carlo Vanzina

CARLO VANZINA. IL CINEMA È UNA COSA MERAVIGLIOSA

by Antonello Sarno, Italy, 2019, 60’| Doc |

With over seventy titles to his credit, between films and TV series made with his brother Enrico, Carlo Vanzina, who passed away on July 8, 2018, was one of Italy’s most popular directors, thanks to the huge success  of several of his films and TV movies. While the filmmaker Carlo Vanzina is known to audiences mainly for his films, the private side of this erudite, extremely reserved and affectionate figure is less well-known. Antonello Sarno’s tribute to Carlo Vanzina is a documentary packed with film clips, photos and family movies, and interviews with friends and collaborators, including Carlo Verdone, Christian De Sica, Massimo Boldi, Aurelio De Laurentiis, Giovanni Malagò, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Giuseppe Tornatore, Marco Risi, Ezio Greggio, Jerry Calà, Diego Abatantuono, Alessandro Fracassi, Isabella Ferrari, Sabrina Ferilli, Carol Alt, Martina Colombari, Massimo Ghini Claudio Amendola, Enrico Lucherini, Vincenzo Salemme, Raoul Bova.

 

Tribute to Gillo Pontecorvo

KAPÒ

by Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy, France, Yugoslavia, 1960, 118’

Cast: Susan Strasberg, Laurent Terzieff, Emmanuelle Riva, Didi Perego, Gianni Garko

The Rome Film Fest pays tribute to Gillo Pontecorvo, on the centenary of his birth, by presenting the restored version of Kapò. The film looks at the Holocaust through a character named Edith, a young Jewish prisoner in a concentration camp, who, in a bid for survival, agrees to collaborate with the Nazis and become a kapo, a guard in charge of her fellow female prisoners. In the end, Edith gets her own identity back and redeems herself, thanks to her love for a Russian inmate, and makes the ultimate sacrifice so the others can escape. Kapò tracks her trajectory from degradation to redemption, from damnation to salvation, from losing then finding herself, her dignity and humanity. It’s what Primo Levi called “the grey zone”, the ambiguous area where good and evil – and victims and perpetrators of the Shoah – intersect. The film, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, was restored by the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Cristaldi Film, in a collaboration with the National Museum of Cinema in Turin. This 4K restoration of Kapò was made possible by using the original camera negatives and the Italian sound negatives in the possession of Istituto Luce – Cinecittà. The restoration work was carried out at the laboratory L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, in 2019.

 

Tribute to Franco Zeffirelli

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW | LA BISBETICA DOMATA

by Franco Zeffirelli, Italy, United States, 1967, 122’

Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Cyril Cusack, Michael Hordern, Alfred Lynch, Alan Webb

In memory of Franco Zeffirelli, who recently passed away, there will be a screening of his second film, The Taming of the Shrew. In the 1500s, Lucenzio wants to marry Bianca, daughter of the wealthy Battista, but Bianca cannot get married before her older sister, Caterina, a rebellious young woman, who is caustic and capricious, with a terrible character that drives all her suitors away. Petruccio, a gentleman attracted by Caterina’s substantial dowry, decides he will marry her. After the wedding, having vainly attempted to subdue the young woman with gentle manners, Petruccio turns to harsher ones, which seem to transform Caterina into a sweet and docile wife, but in the end the girl escapes and forces Petruccio to chase after her before going to bed, amid general laughter: maybe she has not really been tamed, but has only found a different way to dominate her husband. An adaptation of Shakespeare’s eponymous play, the film is a dazzling and sumptuous visual feast, a festival of colour, of references to Renaissance art, of lavish and colourful costumes; it is a joyful, playful, vital movie that reinterprets Shakespeare’s play from a modern, feminist point of view. A director of film, lyric opera and theatre, passionate, elegant, sophisticated, ambitious, with a seductive and spectacular style, Zeffirelli staged the works of the Bard at the Old Vic and Stratford-on-Avon, and also adapted Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet for the screen.

 

Tribute to Turi Ferro

TURI FERRO – L’ULTIMO PROSPERO

by Daniele Gonciaruk, Italy, 2019, 84’ |Doc|

Turi Ferro was one of the most prolific actors on the Italian stage, and many consider him a precursor of later trends in Sicilian playwriting especially, with his reinvention of styles and characters. In a series of reminiscences, this documentary offers a backward glance over the life and times, the artistry and the secrets of one of Italy’s greatest actors on the stage and screen. “In 1997 I was lucky enough to meet and work with someone I believe is one of the twentieth-century’s greatest actors. It was during rehearsals for William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, directed by his son Guglielmo and staged by the Teatro Stabile in Catania; this is when I got the idea and the drive to start telling Ferro’s story and bear witness to one of the most extraordinary stage performers that Italy has ever known” says director Daniele Gonciaruk.

 

Tribute to Andrea Camilleri and Ugo Gregoretti

UGO & ANDREA

by Rocco Mortelliti, Italy, 2009, 60’ |Doc|

Jokes, funny remarks, reminiscences, biographical and autobiographical notes, profound observations tossed off ever so lightly, irony, and seeing eye to eye: these are the ingredients of this affectionate dialogue in the wrong move between the late Andrea Camilleri, a literary master, and the late Ugo Gregoretti, a key player in the revolution of Italian television and the audiovisual industry. Filmed by their respective daughters, Andreina and Orsetta, it’s an engaging chat that reveals the two personalities’ respect for and love of their fellow man and their families: surrounded by their wives, children and grandchildren, Ugo and Andrea bask in the warmth of the hearth. They had met working for RAI Television in their youth, but only became friends later on, thanks to the friendship between Andreina and Orsetta, a fondness which spilled over almost instantly to the two families. Ugo and Andrea realized that they had a lot in common, from the way they looked at the future to the way they handled the present, as well as their pasts: they had married on the very same day, April 28, albeit in different years. Two unique, incomparable figures, they gave much to contemporary culture, including their way of seeing the world, and always with a smile – just as they did for their last joint effort, in April 2016, when they took the stage at Palermo’s Teatro Massimo, playing the Cat (Gregoretti) and the Fox (Camilleri) in their very own version of Pinocchio, rehabilitating two of Collodi’s characters, who’d come off as such scoundrels in the original.

 

Tribute to Luciano Salce

UMA PULGA NA BALANÇA

by Luciano Salce, Brazil, 1953, 90’

Cast: Waldemar Wey, Gilda Nery, Luiz Calderaro, Erminio Spalla, Paulo Autran, John Herbert

Luciano Salce is being remembered, thirty years after his death, with the screening of Uma Pulga na Balança, his debut as a director. In 1949, Salce left for Brazil, where he worked with his friend Adolfo Celi, produced several shows, became artistic deputy director of the Teatro Brasileiro de Comédia, founded the Teatro de Segunda Feira, and directed his first two films, both written by Fabio Carpi: Uma Pulga na Balança and Floradas na Serra. The first tells the story of Dorival, who is broke, but comes up with a brilliant plan to make money: after getting himself arrested, he reads the obituaries in prison, chooses one of the recently deceased from an important family, convinces the relatives that he knew him and had compromising information about him, and the heirs end up paying him a large sum of money.

A clever and bitter satire on the middle class, the film derides its petty hypocrisy and false respectability with biting and caustic sarcasm, and the taunting sardonic spirit that is typical of Salce’s eclectic and multifaceted art, an art that ranged across cinema, theatre, television and radio, in the roles of director, actor, screenwriter and showman, across a career distinguished by the sharp, light and seemingly innocent irony that made him one of the most beloved figures in Italian-style comedy.

 

 

RESTORED FILMS

 

FELLINI SATYRICON

by Federico Fellini, Italy, 1969, 129’

Cast: Martin Potter, Hiram Keller, Max Born, Salvo Randone, Mario Romagnoli, Alain Cuny

The Rome Film Fest celebrates the 50th anniversary of Fellini Satyricon by presenting the version restored by the CSC/Cineteca Nazionale with the support of Dolce & Gabbana. Inspired by the “Satyricon” written by Petronius Arbiter in the I century B.C., of which only fragments have been preserved, Fellini’s film is a magmatic Babel-like mosaic, a delirious and chaotic nightmare, an almost witchlike and spiritistic evocation of two buried worlds, the world of the past and the world of the subconscious. Fellini seeks to reproduce the multiform style and splintered condition of Petronius’ text in the convulsive whirlwind sequence of picaresque adventures that befall the two heroes, Encolpius and Ascyltos, and the characters they meet (the old poet Eumolpus; the malicious ephebe Giton; Trimalchio, a wealthy, vulgar and ignorant freeman; Vernacchio, a pantomime actor; the pirate Lichas; a false Minotaur; the enchantress Oenothea; the hermaphrodite). The result is an amoral, grotesque and beastly humanity, a decadent, nocturnal and apocalyptic world, that mixes elegy and vernacular, tragedy and comedy, funeral ceremonies and bacchanals, the sepulchral shiver of death and a vital carnal drive. Fellini’s Imperial Rome is a tangle of real and symbolic labyrinths, dominated by a sense of insecurity, of transience, it is a series of frescoes that are dazzling at first then suddenly decompose and vanish, like the ones discovered underground in the subway under construction in another of Fellini’s films, Roma.

 

GRUPPO DI FAMIGLIA IN UN INTERNO | CONVERSATION PIECE

by Luchino Visconti, Italy, France, 1974, 125’

Cast: Burt Lancaster, Helmut Berger, Silvana Mangano, Claudia Marsani, Stefano Patrizi, Elvira Cortese

The Rome Film Fest presents Conversation Piece, the second-to-last film by Luchino Visconti, in the version restored by the CSC/Cineteca Nazionale. An elderly professor lives alone, surrounded by his books and paintings, in an old Roman palazzo, until a crass marchesa convinces him to rent out the apartment on the top floor, where she installs her younger lover Konrad, and her daughter Lietta and her boyfriend Stefano. At first appalled by this intrusive family, the professor is drawn to them and feels he has a new lease on life, which won’t last: he’ll end up alone again, waiting for the end. The film is a decadent, moody portrait of an aristocrat who shuns the present and seeks refuge in his own solitude, his past, his memories, until he comes to sense a vital opportunity to form a bond with a dawning era, only to realize that he can’t stave off death. This film contains the four hallmarks of Visconti’s films posited by Gilles Deleuze: the closed world of the traditional noble class, lovers of art but void of any creative force, buried alive in their museum-like abodes; the disintegration of their existences triggered by disruptive outside forces that make their way into their lives (the middle class, young people); history itself, with glimpses of the political unrest and terrorist movements of the 70s that only accelerated the breakup of the nobles’ cocoon; and the idea that it is too late to start over, redeem oneself, and make up for lost time.

 

IL MANOSCRITTO DEL PRINCIPE |THE PRINCE’S MANUSCRIPT

by Roberto Andò, Italy, 2000, 90’

Cast: Michel Bouquet, Jeanne Moreau, Paolo Briguglia, Giorgio Lupano, Laurent Terzieff, Massimo De Francovich
The Prince’s Manuscript, by Roberto Andò, restored by the CSC/Cineteca Nazionale, is the story of the last years in the life of Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of The Leopard, and the intellectual relationship between the writer and his two young students, the aristocrat Guido (in real life Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, who became a musicologist and was adopted by the Prince) and the young middle-class Marco (in real life Francesco Orlando, who became a professor of literature), who both competed for the Prince’s favour and his spiritual legacy. Tomasi di Lampedusa divided writers into two categories: the “slim”, who write in a dry, allusive, reticent style, and do not openly reveal their characters’ most intimate sphere, and the “fat”, who write in a lush, meticulously descriptive style that, in the dialogues, explicitly reveals even the smallest details of the characters’ souls. Andò’s film, addressing themes such as the contrast between the aristocracy and the middle class (a central theme in The Leopard), chooses the thin style, implied, implicit, to talk about unexpressed passions, and seems to say, as the Prince writes, that “we understand people’s character through their actions, their gaze, the way they falter, the way they twist their fingers, their silence or sudden outbursts, the colour of their cheeks, the rhythm of their steps”.

 

IL MESTIERE DELLE ARMI |THE PROFESSION OF ARMS

by Ermanno Olmi, Italy, France, Germany, Bulgaria, 2001, 105’

Cast: Christo Jivkov, Sergio Grammatico, Dimitar Ratchkov, Fabio Giubbani, Sasa Vulicevic, Dessy Tenekedjieva
The Rome Film Fest presents The Profession of Arms by Ermanno Olmi, restored by the Istituto Luce Cinecittà and the CSC/National Film Library. The film recounts the last days in the life of Giovanni de’ Medici, or ‘delle Bande Nere’, as he was known: the “noble, valorous captain”, in Aretino’s words, of Pope Clement VII’s army. “Bold, impetuous, and with big ideas”, and the only “leader the soldiers willingly followed”, as Machiavelli described him, Giovanni fought to stop the German troops of Emperor Charles V, led by Georg von Frundsberg, from marching on Rome. Wounded by a falconet shot, he lost a leg and died four days later, in Mantua, at the age of 28. The Profession of Arms is a film about death torn between the materiality of flesh and the sacredness of eternity. The death that cuts short the life of a young hero reflects the contrast between traditional warfare, with its ethics out of the chivalrous epics, and the new warfare relying on firearms that allow the less brave to prevail – artillery thanks to which “military glory is destroyed” and “the profession of arms is without honor” (as lamented by Ariosto). With Giovanni’s life as the backdrop, the art of war clashes with the use of mercenaries as well, and above all with the intrigues, deceptions, and political maneuvering by Alfonse d’Este and Federico Gonzaga, both of whom, for personal gain, chose to facilitate the advance of the landsknechts.

The film is a haunting requiem for the death of a young man – and the death of an age, a civilization, and a world.

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