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Two documentaries by Istituto Luce-Cinecittà will be presented at the 74. Venice International Film Festival. The first is Dangerous but Necessary by Anselma Dell’Olio in the Venice Classics – Documentaries on Cinema section, a journey through the unique world, both supernatural and earthly, of Marco Ferreri.  

He was a man who left his studies in veterinary medicine and, while still loving animals, decided to focus on the human being, and his sensual and desiring core. In order to approach Ferreri’s multifaceted and consistent universe, sometimes hard for someone to understand, the film offers excerpts from his Spanish, Italian, and French films, including The Little Coach, Liza, The Last Woman, Dillinger Is Dead, The Big Feast, My Asylum, Bye Bye Monkey, The Story of Piera, The Ape Woman. We listen to the director reflecting on his reputation as a provocateur and the many censorships, scandals, criticisms, and malicious accusations. We find his ironic and sharp replies, too, and those of his most known and affectionate supporters as well: Marcello Mastroianni, Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noiret. The film shows archival materials and backstage scenes taken from Istituto Luce and French archives. Some of these materials have never been shown before in Italy.  

The film enlightens new ways in which Ferreri used to work with the actors, and these are discussed by his films’ protagonists (Roberto Benigni, Hanna Schygulla, Isabelle Huppert, Andréa Ferreol, Ornella Muti), his closest collaborators (music composer Philippe Sarde, director Radu Mihaileanu), art director Dante Ferretti, and Cahiers du cinema luminary Serge Toubiana.  

In the words of Dell’Olio: “Exploring the work of Ferreri enriches your fantasy and broadens your world  view. You realize the awakening of your cerebral neurons, which have been sleeping till now. I thought I knew him quite well as an artist and a man as I used to work with him and witnessed the fruitful kaleidoscope of his diverse moods and talents. I was wrong. Only after diving into his cinema, his thoughts and the relationship with his collaborators, I managed to catch his fresh artistic vision, his ceaseless and restless research on the ‘bent wood of humanity.’ If you watch his films closely enough, you realize that they were so clear and not at all inscrutable, to the extent that many viewers remain perplexed or even shocked. If Dangerous but Necessary will tempt someone to discover or re-discover Ferreri’s cinema, our mission can be deemed successful.”  

Another Luce film, in the “Special Screenings” section, is Barbiana ’65 – The Lesson of Don Lorenzo Milani, directed by Alessandro D’Alessandro. The film recovers integrally the footage shot by the director’s father, Angelo D’Alessandro, who in December 1965 in Barbiana filmed don Lorenzo Milani and his pupils. That’s an occasion to re-present the words of the Prior with all their energy after 50 years from his death, and to remind his great lesson. Milani’s mission and radical intellectual experience embody a concrete thought of extraordinary coherence, both utopic and political. Well beyond the borders of his village, his nation and his time, Milani’s story can be rightly deemed European. Angelo D’Alessandro was the only one allowed to film Milani’s life in the school. The man went to Barbiana to inquire about the theme of the conscientious objection.  

The original material shows moments and fundamental aspects of the Barbiana School: collective writing, newspaper reading, older boys teaching to the younger. There’s also the manual labour of the pupils (or their participation in the Mass, in a scene in which Milani only pretends to be celebrating – a conscious decision that was shared with the director). The narration is enriched by the words of Adele Corradi, the teacher who shared the Barbiana experience with don Lorenzo; Beniamino Deidda, former public prosecutor of Florence who has kept on teaching after the death of don Milani; don Luigi Ciotti. School, Constitution, and the Gospel are the three cornerstones of Milani’s thought, and they reach their apex in the reading he makes in front of the camera – he reads his Letters to the Judges, wrote to defend himself from accusations of crime advocacy.  

The film shows with great energy the voice and image of a man who highlights the themes of conscience and obedience, of justice and solidarity, of the school as a means for everyone to become one’s own master.  

Moreover, Istituto Luce-Cinecittà is in Venice with the restored version of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Novecento, the Venice Critics’ Week short film program SIC@SIC, and the newfound Olmi, Il tentato suicide nell’adolescenza, at Giornate degli autori, too.

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VENEZIA 74

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