Category Archives: Film Theatre and Media

Mona Lisa Covergirl

Emma Barron’s just-published Popular High Culture in Italian Media, 1950-1970 (Palgrave, 2018) is an essential and engaging contribution to the study of Italian mass culture. The book’s subtitle, ‘Mona Lisa Covergirl’, points to the originality of its theme: how Italian high culture was deployed to create a distinctive form of mass culture in the post-1945 expansion of television and popular magazines. Pasolini and Quasimodo providing advice to readers of Tempo (Pasolini: ‘The letters are enjoyable: some of them even give me a profound joy, even if as brief as a flash’),  Mike Bongiorno promoting knowledge of the classics through Lascia o raddoppia? (15 million viewers weekly), Il barbiere di Siviglia as the first opera to be transmitted on Italian tv (1954, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini), Giacomo Puccini endorsing Odol mouthwash (‘Lodo l’ODOL, LO DOLce licor che LO DOLore del dente scaccia di sovente’), Shakespeare’s lines used to sell pasta (Barilla), liquor (Amaretto di Saronno) and chocolates (Baci Perugina), I promessi sposi drawing mass tv audiences (19 million) and readerships (magazines, fotoromanzi, comics) – this study of the intertwining of the classic and the contemporary provides a fresh and productive account of the development of Italian mass culture.

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The Leopard at 60

The 60th anniversary of the publication of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard will be celebrated at the University of Melbourne on 12-14 November 2018. On 12 November the writer Simonetta Agnello-Hornby will give an open public lecture, The North and South in 20th Century Italy and the Effect of ‘The Leopard’ in Sicily and in Europe, examining the impact of di Lampedusa’s major work, in book and film (Visconti, 1963) form, in Sicily itself and on European views of Sicilians. The lecture, 5.30-6.30pm in the Forum Theatre (North Wing), Arts West Building (153), at the University of Melbourne, is the prelude to a 2-day symposium, Sicily, Italy and the Supranational Cultural Imaginary, convened by Mark Nicholls (Melbourne), Gregoria Manzin (La Trobe), Annamaria Pagliaro (Monash) and Agnese Bresin (Melbourne and La Trobe) on 13-14 November, 10.00am-5.00pm at the Interactive Cinema, Arts West 353, at the University of Melbourne. The symposium, open to all, will cover many aspects of di Lampedusa’s work, along with analyses of Visconti’s film  and a variety of Sicilian texts, art works and historical events. Registration for the lecture is here. For further information on the lecture and the symposium, contact Mark Nicholls.   Continue reading

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The book, the photo and the stork

Photos move us. They enable us to travel virtually to wherever the scene is captured. They also move us by provoking emotions unleashed by the picture. Travel photography illustrates this double power especially clearly as Giorgia Alù argues in her just-published Journeys Exposed: Women’s Writing, Photography and Mobility (Routledge, 2018). The writers and photographers analysed (Melania Mazzucco, Ornela Vorpsi, Monika Bulaj, Carla Cerati, Elena Gianini Belotti and Anna Maria Riccardi) are variously related to Italy: Italians, Italophones, migrants or expatriates to Italy, or through hyphenated adjectives of nationality, as Italian-American or Italian-Australian. The book begins with an anecdote recounted by Karen Blixen. During a stormy night a man has to go out to fix a leakage in his pond’s dam. He stumbles around, falls over, and takes wrong paths but next morning he sees that the tracks his boots have left in the mud trace the outline of a stork. The stork provides an unsuspected unity for his apparently random movements but one which only becomes visible a posteriori and from a distance. Such traces expose the form of movements, underlying or unintended, in lives, texts and photographs but, like photographs, the form requires the technical processes of exposure to be seen.

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The Italianist 2018: Italian films, Peter Bondanella, Chris Wagstaff

The latest volume of The Italianist ( 2018, vol.38, no.2) is devoted to film. The first part opens with discussions of the relations – real, imagined, intended, inadvertent – between films and their audiences: the Fascist promotion of Italian fiction films in the US in the 1930s, and the creation of the once much-scorned but now revalued ‘casalinga di Voghera‘. A series of diverse analyses follows: the impact of the planned, begun but never completed films on the anni di piombo on the difficulties of representing 1970s Italy; the Dantean resonances in Pasolini’s Salò; Sorrentino’s aesthetic strategy in portraying Giulio Andreotti in Il Divo; and the interplay of aesthetics and politics in authorial interventions in recent documentaries. The second part is a celebration in many voices of the lives and works of Peter Bondanella and Chris Wagstaff, two leading scholars who have left large and enduring contributions to the analysis of Italian cinema.

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Lavazza Film Festival 2018

Le presentazioni speciali del 2018 Lavazza Italian Film Festival in Australia saranno: Lazzaro Felice di Alice Rohrwacher; Dogman di Matteo Garrone; Euforia dell’attrice e regista Valeria Golino; e le commedie come Ammore e Malavita dei Manetti Bros. Quest’anno il Festival celebra inoltre l’opera del regista e sceneggiatore Ferzan Özpetek con una retrospettiva che includerà alcuni dei suoi capolavori tra cui Le Fate Ignoranti e Mine vaganti. Il programma completo verrà annunciato in agosto.   Continue reading

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Addio a Carlo Vanzina (1951-2018)

 

Gino Moliterno    ANU

Son of veteran director, Steno (Stefano Vanzina) and younger brother of Enrico, who produced and regularly co-wrote most of his more than 60 films, Carlo Vanzina (1951-2018) could probably, more than any other Italian director, lay claim to have lived his whole life in films. At the age of only one he had appeared in a cameo as the cute infant in Totò e le donne, one of the many films that Steno had directed for that inimitable “prince of comedy”, Antonio de Curtis. After graduating from the Lycée Chateaubriand in Rome, the young Carlo nurtured hopes of becoming a film critic but was inevitably drawn into a more active role in the cinema, first as an assistant on a handful of his father’s films and then serving a more challenging apprenticeship as assistant director to that other great practitioner of the commedia all’italiana, Mario Monicelli. In a recent interview Vanzina had remembered how Monicelli regularly gave him a hard time on the set, a practice that he had at first resented but had later understood to be the older director’s way of better teaching him all the finer points of the craft of filmmaking.    Continue reading

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‘An Eye on Italy’: analysing Italian visual culture

A selection of papers from a conference in Adelaide in late 2016, An Eye on Italy: Continuities and transformations in Italian visual culture, has just been published in the online journal FULGOR (vol.5, no.3, June 2018). As the editors (Luciana d’Arcangeli, Sally Hill and Claire Kennedy) note, the theme of violence recurs in most of the papers: Claudia Bernardi’s analysis of Fernando Di Leo’s adaptation of Scerbanenco’s I ragazzi del massacro (1968); Luciana d’Arcangeli’s examination of the place of women in Matteo Garrone’s noir films; Brigid Maher’s exploration of the representation in the film and comic-book versions of Massimo Carlotto’s Arrivederci amore, ciao; and Barbara Pezzotti’s comparison of the film and tv versions of Giancarlo De Cataldo’s Romanzo criminale (2002), focusing on the representation of the Bologna station massacre of 1980. The issue, all of which is directly accessible, is completed by Sally Hill’s consideration of the relation between maternity and disability in recent Italian films and by a short interview with De Cataldo.

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Ermanno Olmi (1931 – 2018)

Gino Moliterno   ANU

Less than three weeks after the death of Vittorio Taviani the Italian cinema has lost another of its great veteran filmmakers – Ermanno Olmi who died on May 7. With a strong attachment to his peasant origins and his rural Catholic background, both of which were amply reflected in his major works, for the last 60 years Olmi had come to occupy a unique position within mainstream Italian cinema through a series of films that were remarkable for their honesty and authenticity and for their profound commitment to validating the ordinary lives and daily experiences of common people.  Continue reading

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Vale Vittorio Taviani (1929-2018)

Gino Moliterno   ANU

Sadly, the front ranks of the veteran Italian film directors continue to diminish. Only two years after the disappearance of Ettore Scola, 88 year-old Vittorio Taviani has also folded up his director’s chair and passed on. For six decades, always and indissolubly joined at the artistic hip with his slightly younger brother, Paolo, Vittorio had formed the vital half of a prolific filmmaking duo who produced some of the most memorable films of the Italian postwar cinema.  By their own account – and they have always spoken with a single voice – the Taviani brothers first discovered their passion for filmmaking as teenagers, skipping school one day and chancing to catch a screening of Roberto Rossellini’s Paisà. Sons of a vehemently anti-fascist lawyer who had also taken up arms as a partisan, the boys had had direct experience of the recent war and now were struck by the power of film to represent reality. As they left the cinema they resolved that they would be filmmakers.     Continue reading

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Call for entries: Jo-Anne Duggan Prize 2019

We are now calling for entries for the Jo-Anne Duggan Prize 2019 which honours Jo-Anne’s memory and work. She left one of the richest and most compelling collections of photographs by any Australian artist to engage with Italian culture, history and art. Her work, exemplifying what she called her ‘postcolonial eye’, demonstrates remarkable breadth, covering public spaces/places of Italian diaspora in Australia, enquiries into the re-contextualisation and museification of Renaissance art, Australian archives of Italian migration, and complex case studies on the legacy of the Gonzagas. The guidelines for entries for the 2019 Prize can be found here, accompanied by guidelines for the exegesis for creative works, a list of links to Jo-Anne’s writings, and her CV which includes a list of her exhibitions. The deadline for entries for the Prize is 29 October 2018. All enquiries should be directed to Catherine Dewhirst (USQ).

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