I’ve been going to the Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival in Bologna for four years, and it’s always a treat. There’s the joy of discovering newly restored old films that are often better than most new films. There’s the spectacular city of Bologna, site of the first university founded in Europe in 1088, and graced with the most amazing churches on every block. And then there’s the food. Bologna is the center of the slow food movement in Europe, and the combination of traditional Italian food made with local organic produce is unbeatable.
The festival, now in its 28th year, is a celebration and showcase for many of the films that have been restored in the preceding year. Think of it as the annual harvesting of the restoration work. However, the general public may not be aware why restoration is so critical.
The harsh reality is that every year countless films disintegrate because the chemical base of the film corrodes over time. Once the camera negative, internegative and last print of a film are gone, the film is gone forever. One can read about it, but never have the pleasure of seeing it as it was meant to be seen, in pristine condition on the large screen. Fortunately, a few dedicated teams around the world work in concert to track down worthy and endangered films and begin the expensive and laborious process of reclaiming them for posterity. Thanks to these film scholars, researchers and film detectives, film students and the general public are now able to see excellent versions of films that have been significant in the history of film. Film restoration serves not only the broader goal of art preservation, but also has a pedagogical mission: it makes it possible for those of us who are educating the future filmmakers of the world to have access to the riches of the film past. Several years ago I invited Cecilia Cenciarelli, a top Cineteca di Bologna curator known for her Chaplin restorations, to our campus to present a program about film restoration, and I could see how eye-opening it was for our students. It’s important for film schools and educators to participate and support restoration so that the next generation of filmmakers has the opportunity to see the films that have shaped our history, keeping the flame of cinema alive.
Although the primary focus of the festival is presenting restored and rarely seen films, it does so in a most audience-friendly manner. Every year the festival is organized around honoring individual filmmakers, film movements and historical periods, including a section on what happened 100 years ago. This year the festival honored, among many other cinema legends, the 100th anniversary of the creation of Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp character. On a much more sober note, World War 1 is a hundred years old, and there were a number of films about the war.
I saw a Belgian pacifist film Maudite Soit la Guerre (War Be Damned) about two close friends, both flyers, who discover themselves on opposing sides in the war and end up killing each other. Shown outdoors at night in the Piazza Maggiore before thousands of spectators, with live music and astounding aerial shots of dogfights, this recently discovered and newly restored color film made in early 1914 carries a powerful, dramatic message.
Also shown that night were archival shots taken from a dirigible in 1918 at the end of the war, flown over battlefields, villages and towns totally annihilated by massive bombing. This recently restored and never-before- seen footage of massive destruction makes its own silent case against war. I also saw the little seen gem by Ernst Lubitsch, The Man I Killed, his only dramatic sound film, about a French soldier who is haunted by the German soldier he killed in the war. This surprisingly modern film is as relevant today as when it was made in 1932.
Besides having the opportunity to view such powerful films, over the week-long event I was able to speak with a number of film scholars and journalists, cinephiles, curators and festival directors. One night, I attended the Mercato della Terra slow food market held near the festival headquarters where I shared grilled fish at a picnic table with my friend Pierre Rissient, the great French “man of Cinema,” as he was called in the Todd McCarthy documentary on his life. Pierre, who was assistant director to Jean-Luc Godard on Breathless, has been the indispensable man for French and American filmmakers for 50 years.
That same evening, I saw a screening of the Jin Xie’s Stage Sisters (1964), an emotionally realistic dramatic film about young provincial opera stars who come to the big city of Shanghai in 1940 as civil war rages in the background. Afterwards I chatted with Gian Luca Farinelli, the charismatic director of Il Cinema Ritrovato and its guiding light for 28 years, congratulating him for presenting such a powerful film. He said his restoration laboratory, L’Immagine Ritrovato, had been working five years with the Shanghai Film Museum and the Shanghai International Film Festival to restore this masterpiece. I could feel in Gian Luca’s voice how proud he was for this achievement. It is what the Cineteca di Bologna, the umbrella organization of the festival, is all about.
This article was originally published in The Huffington Post.
The Cleveland Film Society promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community. In pursuing its mission, the Cleveland Film Society will:
- Set high standards for quality film education and exhibition, placing artistic and cultural merit above commercial appeal.
- Foster understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures and values.
- Work collaboratively to broaden access to quality film arts.
- Cultivate an innovative and forward-thinking organization.
The 39th Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) will be held March 18-29, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Founded in 1977, the Cleveland Film Society has presented the Cleveland International Film Festival every spring for over three decades. In March 2014, Ohio’s premier film event featured over 350 films originating from over 65 countries and an attendance of over 97,000 – making the CIFF one of the largest and longest running regional film festivals in the US. The CIFF was also recognized as one of the 50 leading film festivals in the world by IndieWIRE.
Over the past several years, the CIFF has maintained it’s relevancy through it’s wide survey of programming choices and growing audiences from the region including Akron, Columbus, Toledo, Detroit and Pittsburgh. Visiting filmmakers, panel discussions, and student screenings are all CIFF highlights.
Categories: Features (Narrative, Documentary, Animation), Shorts (Narrative, Documentary, Animation)
EARLY BIRD DEADLINE: AUGUST 31, 2014
REGULAR DEADLINE: SEPTEMBER 30, 2014
LATE DEADLINE: OCTOBER 31, 2014
EXTENDED DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 30, 2014
WAB EXTENDED DEADLINE: DECEMBER 7, 2014
From November 19-30, 2014, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) transforms the city centre into a paradise for documentary film fans.
IDFA treats documentary lovers to the latest and greatest domestic and international arrivals from the documentary film world. No other festival brings together so many great films, devoted fans and talented film-makers in one place, making IDFA one of the world’s leading documentary film festivals. The films presented at IDFA all tell extraordinary stories about life – often revealing and moving, they can also be shocking or funny.
With hundreds of international documentaries on offer, IDFA’s programming provides a look at the world from a variety of unique perspectives. Taking viewers to some of the world’s poorest and wealthiest places, the documentaries featured are often as poetic as they are powerful.
The 27th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam takes place November 19–30, 2014.
DEADLINE FOR DOCS COMPLETED AFTER April 2014: AUGUST 1, 2014
Categories: Documentaries (any length) in several categories. See website for more details.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition Television Writers Program was created in 2003 and is an intensive scriptwriters workshop that prepares Latinos for writing jobs at major television networks. Modeled after the previously successful Hispanic Film Project, the program is a direct response to the lack of diverse writers in primetime network TV. To take NHMC TV Writers Program graduates to the next level, NHMC has also created the NHMC Pitching Lab and the Latino Scene Showcase.
An NHMC-commissioned national poll showed that non-Latinos primarily learn about our community from what they see on television. For this reason, NHMC works to get more Latinos in back of camera to achieve balanced and accurate portrayals of diversity in the U.S.
Since its inception eleven years ago:
- 110 writers have completed the NHMC TV Writers Program
- 28 writing careers have been launched
- 25% of NHMC Writers have been staffed on shows at the following networks: ABC/Disney, NBC, CBS, FOX, Nickelodeon, CW, BET, LATV, VH1 and NUVOtv.
To apply: Complete an online application, an ABC and NBC Release form, submit ONE writing sample of any type to include, plays, pilots, specs and books in PDF format. Television scripts are preferred. Please note that writing teams are ineligible. You must be able to show proof of U.S. employment eligibility at the time the program begins. You must be 18 or over to apply. The program is open to all races and ethnicities.
DEADLINE: July 31, 2014