The Night and the Day:
Italian Experimental 1905-2010
November 23 to 30, 2011
Does an experimental tradition exist in the Italian cinema? This series tries to answer the question in a practical manner, in the form of a working hypothesis. Eleven programs, more than 80 films, united by the goal of developing a historical-critical perspective: Italian filmmaking will be viewed in relation to European and American "experimentalism" and with an expanded understanding of cinematic forms.
In addition to works by well-known artists, from Michelangelo Antonioni and Carmelo Bene to Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci-Lucchi, this retrospective brings to light numerous discoveries from recent years and many films that were restored during the past decade – following a period of darkness which has seen only a few programs devoted to this theme. Most of these endeavours were focused on a narrow canon, defined by the futurist avant-garde and contemporary artist’s films. The Vienna series attempts to return a much broader, more complex meaning to the concept and the world of the “experimental”: everything on (and in) film that relates to material experience and to research can be understood as part of this world. Two central motifs – the machine and the body – form the backbone along which the experiments of Italian cinema will be displayed, from early slapstick comedies to present-day works in the found-footage tradition.
Within the individual programs, styles, forms and production modes that seem highly different at first glance, are brought together. At the same time, unexpected genealogies will appear and illuminate a cross-section of Italian film history. Each of these eleven constellations travels through time, traversing the cinema, the technological imaginary, and the optical unconscious of an entire century. Forgotten films by the great authors will be in dialogue with anonymous works, modernist cinema will be considered alongside artisanal and commercial productions, works by visual artists will collide with scientific and medical films. The retrospective is an experiment in itself: for one week, outside of Italy, a laboratory space will be built in order to test a new view of Italian film.
(Giulio Bursi, Federico Rossin)
The program is curated by Giulio Bursi and Federico Rossin. It is presented in close cooperation with the Italian film archives and with support from the Italian Cultural Institute in Vienna. For their generous loan of works and general assistance during this project, special thanks are due to the Cineteca Nazionale in Rome as well as the Cineteca Italiana (Milan), the Cineteca di Bologna, the Archivio Nazionale Cinema d'Impresa (Ivrea), Home Movies Bologna, La Camera Ottica (Gorizia) and the Museo Nazionale del Cinema (Torino).