Classic films back on the big screen
by Luca Benni & Matteo Cesarini
Thanks to recent restoration work, classic films (in celluloid as well as renovated digital format), black and white ones, documentaries, silent movies with accompanying live music, and ‘talkies’ from an entire era, have returned to the big screen. Sponsored by the Cineteca* di Bologna, they were all on view at the 29th Festival del Cinema Ritrovato, which ended on 4th July; a veritable journey through the wonders of cinema organized at four picturesque locations in the capital of Emilia; (Le Cineteca, the Jolly and Harlequin cinemas and Piazza Maggiore). An amazing 427 films were shown, dating from 1895 to the present, including original versions with subtitles.
The marvellous Piazza Maggiore was witness to these beautiful projections, with its giant screen and an audience of thousands. At the start of the nineties, Cineteca di Bologna highlighted the urgency of applying film restoration techniques and knowledge, and of setting up a laboratory to specialize in this. Consequently, L’immagine Ritrovata was started in 1992 and is one of the most advanced laboratories in the field today.
One of the objectives of the Cineteca and the festival, is to show today’s public the films of yesteryear whilst highlighting their power, importance and modernity. To this end, since September 2013, the Cineteca di Bologna has promoted the distribution of a number of major films to the rest of Italy. It’s a gamble on behalf of cinema in which the Cineteca is committed to offering the best conditions to the public; an active gesture to protect cinemas during these years in which Italian film theatres are experiencing increasing problems.
The premise is that these films were conceived and created for viewing on the big screen; this is their natural home and it’s inevitable that their passage through other formats and channels results in an impoverished experience. Seeing I quattrocento colpi, Hiroshima Mon Amour and A Fistful of Dollars on a cinema’s big screen and in a large theatre makes each of these films a real experience; one that has an impact and doesn’t get lost in an indistinct riot of images. The restored films can be seen at the Cineteca di Bologna during the festival ‘Cinema Al Centro’, and at the Chiostro di San Francesco in Umbertide until 4th September. (www.fabbricamoderna.com). *Film library