Il Cinema Ritrovato (Cinema Rediscovered) is a festival which specializes in the rediscovery of rare and little-known films with a particular focus on early cinema and the silent period, a mandate which it shares with Memory!. Organized by the Cineteca di Bologna, Italy, the festival is one of the world’s major film restoration showcases in Europe. Founded as a small initiative in 1986, it has become an increasingly international meeting place for restoration professionals, early cinema enthusiasts, and film scholars.
Memory! presents four selections from the Il Cinema Ritrovato catalogue, beginning with Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922). With Nosferatu, Murnau developed a visual language of silent film that was almost forgotten with the advent of sound. Though this film was never in danger of disappearing entirely, due to the sheer number of copies in existence, the continuous return to the screen (and the classroom) of this timeless classic of expressionist filmmaking has inspired generations of filmmakers who have studied, imitated, and reworked its aesthetics.
Charles Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) marks another critical moment of the history of film. Just as the German Expressionists, to which Murnau belonged, had created a unique way of expressing the moving image, Chaplin’s generation of slapstick clowns (Harold Lloyd Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardie among others) had invented their own universal language (much as cultural specificity complicates claims to universalism) appreciated by audiences worldwide. Rather than the celebrating the added acoustic dimension to motion pictures, Moden Times was Chaplin’s push back against corporatism, the advent of sound, and the stylistic, aesthetic, and narrative constraints it would impose. Throughout the generations, filmmakers across the world continue to pay homage to the little Tramp and his message of humanism and social justice.
Two films released in the same year conclude this section. Santi-Vina is ‘Marut’ Thavi Na Bangchang’s (1954) classic drama, the first Thai film to win international recognition including best cinematography, best art direction and a special award for portraying Asian culture at the 1954 Southeast Asian Film Festival in Tokyo. For a long time, the original materials of Santi-Vina were considered lost, but in 2014 the original negative was discovered at the British Film Institute (BFI) and the release prints were found at the China Film Archive and at the Gosfilmofond. Journey to Italy (Viaggio in Italia, 1954) is one of Roberto Rossellini’s recently restored works, an interesting attempt to combine neorealist filmmaking with Hollywood talent.
This small selection of films hopes to suggest that the continuous exhibition of heritage films is just as necessary—if not more so—as their restoration and preservation, if we consider that culture is an act of social practice and is created in the process of experiencing it.
For more details, please visit Il Cinema Ritrovato‘s official site.