Edited by Peter Cowie
World Production Survey
Italy by Gideon Bachmann
The present year marks an important advancement in Italian cinema: the recognition by the government of the necessity to aid the film industry not only as part of the economy, but as an artistic medium. The passing of the new cinema law - long awaited, much discussed, and violently disputed by all parties - makes it clear that the government means to support good films: it is now possible to obtain credits for making films even without enormous initial capital guarantees; directors can form co-operatives to produce their own films. These co-operatives are recognized as economic entities and are subsidized like production companies, enjoying various tax benefits and restitution of entrance revenue on the basis of cultural value ("premi di qualita"). The government has also recognized, after many years of struggle, the six federations of cine-clubs and film societies that exist in Italy, and has thus made it possible for these to benefit from the same legal support as other recognized cultural institutions. It is widely held that this recognition will safeguard the future existence of Italy's film clubs, which in past years, despite an increase in critical value and an expansion of activities to include public discussions and university lectures, have been threatened with economic extinction.
The threat of total annihilation of films as a mass medium, which can be seen by going to any normal cinema in Italy and finding it largely empty (this is the situation in most cinemas, except the very snobbish first-run houses in Rome, Milan and Turin) has not been the only stimulus for the government's moves, however. Over the past year a group of political and cultural functionaries have become involved with cinema, and Italy's first important film festival apart from Venice has solidified its position in the birthtown of the socialist minister of tourism and spectacle. Achille Corona was born in Pesaro on the Adriatic, and in this ugly, hospitable town, film-makers from 30 countries met for the second time in May/June of 1966 and proved that a young "new" cinema exists not only in fact, but - and more important - in spirit.
The films which are being made in Italy today fall into two clearly marked groups: those which try to re-attact the large public, and those who hope that a small public will suffice to repay their small budgets. That fact that all the classically important film-makers in today's Italy: Antonioni, Felllini, Visconti, et al, are making films in the first category, symbolizes that the crisis of the past years has not been only economic, but also, and more dramatically, a crisis caused by the calcification of film talents.
Fortunately, the situation is changing rapidly, and the new law may help in assuring the young and exciting new film-makers the economic continuity they require. Over the past year at least six, new, young feature directors made their debut, and at last four new documentary film-makers came to the forefront of local and international acclaim. Some of these: Bertolucci, Bellocchio, and Scavolini, have already reaped critical applause, and others like Anna Gobbi, Giorgio Trentin, Giovanni Vento, Gianfranco Mingozzi, Paolo Brunatto, Gianni Amico, Ennio Lorenzini and Nello Risi are beginning to be known and appreciated. Even the most commercial best-selling Italian Westerns, like PER QUALCHE DOLLARO IN PIU (sequel to PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI) show evidence of a consciousness of new techniques and engagements.
Critics and young film-makers alike have been expressing concern over the growing domination of the Italian distribution of films by American companies, stating that it is becoming more and more difficult to show one's films, because they must in many cases be sold, first, to an American distributor before they can be seen in Italy. This situation, however, was originally caused to a large extent by the previous law, which blocked some of the monies earned by American films in Italy, and which the American companies utilised to extend their Italian holdings, and by the near-bankruptcy of the distribution subsidiaries of the Italian producers. Whether the new law, by helping production and filmic education, can materially change the situation and increase the size of the filmgoing audience, remains to be seen.
new and forthcoming films
L'AMANTE DI GRAMIGNA. Direction: Alberto Lattuada. Players: Clint Eastwood, Nicoletta Machiavelli. Production: Dino de Laurentiis.
SOTTO IL CIELO STELLATO. Direction: Renato Castelliani. Production: 1st. Nazionale Luce.
I SETTE FRATELLI. Direction: Carlo Lizzani. Production: Ager Film.
LA CINA E' VICINA. Direction: Marco Bellocchio. Production: Enzo Doria/Marco Bellocchio.
LA BOMA. Direction: Pietro Germi. Players: Gaston Moschin.
LO STRANIERO. Direction: Luchino Visconti. Players: Alain Delon. Production: De Laurentiis/Columbia.
LA CONTESSA TARNOWSKA. Direction: Luchino Visconti. Players: Romy Schneider. Production: Columbia/Vides.
IL VIAGGIO DI G. MASTRONA. Direction: Federico Fellini. Players: Marcello Mastroianni. Production: Dino de Laurentiis.
IL GIARDINO DEI FINZI CONTINI. Direction: Valerio Zurlini. Players: Virna Lisi.
L'INCONTRO. Direction: Florestano Vancini. Players: Monica Vitti. Production: Sancro Film.
IL VIAGGIO. Direction: Jerzy Kawalerowicz. Players: Lisa Gastoni. Production: Joseph Fryd.
L'ATTENZIONE. Direction: Pier Paolo Pasolini. Production: Carlo Ponti.
LA CINTURA DI CASTITA. Direction: Pasquale F. Campanile. Players: Monica Vitti. Production: Julia Film.
LA SIRENA. Direction: Franco Rossi. Players: Catherine Spaak.
ORESTIADE. Direction: Pier Paolo Pasolini. Production: Arco Film.
IL MARCHESE DE SADE. Direction: Brunello Rondi. Production: Zenith Cinematografica.
STORIA DELL'UOMO. Direction: Roberto Rossellini. Production: Arco Film.
BEATA GIOVENTU'. Direction: Gaspare Palumbo, Ermanno Olmi. Players: A. Pontillo, A. Moretto, G. Menichelli, D. Pessina. Production: Sol Produzione, Milano.
MATCHLESS. Direction: Alberto Lattuada. Players: Ira Furstenburg, Patrick O'Neal. Production: Dino de Laurentiis/United Artists.
LA BISBETICA DOMATA. Direction: Franco Zeffirelli. Players: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael York, Natascha Pyne. Production: Films Artistic Internazionali di Roma/Royal Films International.
LE STREGHE. Direction: Luchino Visconti, Vittorio De Sica, Renato Castellani. Players: Silvana Mangano, Francisco Rabal, Massimo Girotti, Annie Girardot. Production: Dino de Laurentiis/United Artists.
C'ERA UNA VOLTA. Direction: Francesco Rosi. Players: Sophia Loren, Omar Sharif. Production: Carlo Ponti.
LA STREGA IN AMORE. Direction: Damiano Damiani. Players: Rosanna Schiaffino, Richard Johnson, G.M. Volonte. Production: Alfredo Bini/Arco Film.
UN UOMO A META'. Direction: Vittorio de Seta. Players: Jacques Perrin, R. Dexter, I. Occhini, Lea Padovani. Production: Vittorio de Seta.
IL NERO. Direction: Giovanni Vento. Players: Joy Nowsu, Alessandro dal Sasso, Andrea Checci. Production: Alberto Bertuccioli/Piero Donini.
UNA QUESTIONE PRIVATA. Direction: Giorgio Trentin. Players: Antonio Segurini, Valeria Giangottini, Lucia Vasilico. Production: Langa Cinematografica.
INCOMPRESO. Direction: Luigi Comencini. Players: Anthony Quayle, G. Granata, S. Colagrande. Production: Rizzoli/Cineriz.
LO SCANDALO. Direction: Anna Gobbi. Players: Philippe Lemaire, Anouk Aimee. Production: Ferruccio de Martino/Adriana Film.
UNA ROSA PER TUTTI. Direction: Franco Rossi. Players: Claudia Cardinale, Nino Manfredi. Production: Franco Cristaldi/Vides/Columbia.
LA BATTAGLIA DI ALGERI. Direction: Gillo Pontecorvo. Production: Magna.
CACCIA ALLA VOLPE. Direction: Vittorio De Sica. Players: Peter Sellers, Britt Eklund, Victor Mature, Paolo Stoppa. Production: Montoro Film.
PIU' TARDI CLAIRE, PIU' TARDI. Direction: Brunello Rondi. Players: Gary Merrill, Elga Anderson, Georges Riviere, Adriana Asti. Production: Bianco Nero di Roma/La Hispaner Films/Prosagor Film.
[Did Dino De Laurentiis really plan to star Clint Eastwood in L'AMANTE DI GRAMIGNA? Director Carlo Lizzani ended up making the film a couple of years later with Gian Maria Volonte, and Eastwood joined the cast of LA STREGHE in '67. Did Visconti actually plan to make THE STRANGER with Alain Delon? He made it with Marcello Mastroianni. And of course Marcello and Fellini never made IL VIAGGIO DI G. MASTORNA and De Laurentiis sued and sued and sued. And did Zurlini really plan to make THE GARDEN OF THE FINZI-CONTINIS in '67 with Virna Lisi. De Sica made it in '70 and it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film with Dominique Sanda.
In addition to the list of forthcoming films, this article in International Film Guide chose a selection of recent Italian movies to represent the national production output:
GIULIETTA DEGLI SPIRITI, aka JULIET OF THE SPIRITS
I PUNGI I TASCA, aka FISTS IN THE POCKET
PRIMA DELLA RIOLUZIONE, aka BEFORE THE REVOLUTION
A MOSCA CIECA, aka BLIND MAN'S BLUFF. This fourth title is the only one not to be available on DVD from the Criterion Collection.]