Previewing Il Cinema Ritrovato 2020

The Daily — Jul 30, 2020
Bernardo Bertolucci looks on as Pier Paolo Pasolini sends Franco Citti running for a shot in Accattone (1961)

Just as vital as the newly found spirit of cooperation between the Venice, Toronto, Telluride, and New York film festivals is the tightening of the bond between Venice and Il Cinema Ritrovato, the celebration of fresh restorations and rediscoveries that turns Bologna into a cinephilic mecca each summer. This year, the festival will host the Venice Classics program of thirteen restorations of films by such directors as Michelangelo Antonioni, Souleymane Cissé, Pietro Germi, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Shohei Imamura, and Jean-Pierre Melville. Chronologically, the program stretches from Fritz Lang’s You Only Live Once (1937) to Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990).

Scorsese is the key founder of the Film Foundation, which has overseen the restoration of more than 850 films since the project was launched thirty years ago. That’s an anniversary Il Cinema Ritrovato is fêting with the screening of nine classics the Foundation has worked on, ranging from Hiroshi Inagaki’s The Rickshaw Man (1943) to Ritwik Ghatak’s The Cloud-Capped Star (1960), from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone (1961) to Jia Zhangke’s Pickpocket (1997). “It is vital to our mission to share these restorations with audiences on the big screen, where they were meant to be seen,” writes Scorsese in the program notes. “I can’t tell you how fortunate we feel to have such a close partnership with this festival.”

From August 25 through 31, a sprawling range of programs will spotlight individual personalities and undersung movements. Introducing this year’s installment in the festival’s five-year Buster Keaton project, programmer Cecilia Cenciarelli has a bit of fun dreaming up a short called The Lockdowners, in which Keaton and Charlie Chaplin collaborate on a string of gags that could only be pulled off during a pandemic. The stars of other series include Henry Fonda; Marco Ferreri, the “most unyielding Italian director”; Yuso Kawashima, “the ‘missing link’ between the classical Japanese cinema and the New Wave”; Konrad Wolf, a pillar of East German cinema; and film historian Gösta Werner.

Programmer Ehsan Khoshbakht has put together the festival’s first “comparative” retrospective, a series that sets films by Frank Tuttle, such as the 1942 noir This Gun for Hire, next to films by Stuart Heisler, including the crime drama The Glass Key, also from 1942. “This special pairing is inspired by the philosophical and political visions they shared, the similar terrain they walked, which led to them tackling almost the same subjects, albeit in two vividly contrasting styles,” writes Khoshbakht. There are also programs focusing on the years 1900 and 1920, pioneering women directors in the Soviet Union, movies for kids, political films that articulate “the language of resistance, satire and imagination,” and a selection of new documentaries on Federico Fellini, Andrei Tarkovsky, Isabelle Huppert, Volker Schlöndorff, Jia Zhangke, Jane Fonda, Charles Aznavour, Jane Birkin, cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli, and more.

Before sisters Alba and Alice Rohrwacher head to Venice, where Alba stars in the opening night film, Daniele Luchetti’s The Ties, and Alice will present Omelia Contadina, her new project with the artist JR, they’ll be in Bologna. Along with Nick Nolte, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgård, and newcomer Kalipha Touray, Alba stars in Last Words, a film that, according to director Jonathan Nossiter, “confronts our species-threatening ecological catastrophes without losing the courage of tenderness or the joy of being together to tell each other stories.” This will be a world premiere. And Alice will read Daniel Filipe’s A invençao do amor, a poem that inspired Portuguese filmmaker António Campos to make his half-hour classic The Invention of Love in 1965.

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