For the second year running the Hollywood Foreign Press Association enjoyed a special spot in the annual Il Cinema Ritrovato (Rediscovered Cinema) which takes place in Bologna, Italy. The festival showcases classic, rare and restored movies and has become a must-see event for cinephiles.
The HFPA has sponsored Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation which has restored more than 90 classic films. This year one of those titles, the Japanese masterpiece Ugetsu Monogatari by legendary director Kenji Mizoguchi, was featured in all its original poetic beauty which was honored with the Venice’s Silver Lion in 1953.
The film was presented at the Arlecchino Cinema on the second day of the Festival to a sold out audience after an introduction by HFPA member Elisa Leonelli, herself an alumni of Bologna University, and Margaret Bodde, President of the Film Foundation who praised the generosity of HFPA for making Ugetsu and many other restorations possible. Martin Scorsese joined on by video message from New York, where he is still busy with his new film Silence.
“I first saw Ugetsu on TV in 1958”, he iconic director told the Arlecchino audience. “And I have been obsessed ever since by its beauty and poetry. It was very hard to find the various elements to restore and save this masterpiece and I have to thank our friends of the Hollywood Foreign Press for making it happen. We did a 4K digital restoration working from a master positive copy and a negative dupe. We worked at Cineric in New York and I had fantastic help from Masahiro Miyajima, who worked with cinematographer Kasuo Miyagawa for 30 years. I deeply love what Cinema Ritrovato and the town of Bologna is doing by showing these movies in the right way. I visited Bologna and the Cineteca, but not Cinema Ritrovato Festival and I promise to come soon.”
Every year the festival’s program expresses the power of film. Almost 500 titles were presented this year, from June 25 to July 3, at the Bologna Cineteca 4-screen complex and in various theaters in the center of this vibrant Italian city. Over 100.000 spectators celebrated the Festival’s 30th anniversary with an international audience: 3.500 festival passes sold to visitors coming from more than 50 different countries. 500 film archivists and FIAF members came from all over the world.
The historic Piazza Maggiore, a jewel of Italian Renaissance, is the setting for the festival’s free open air screenings. It was very appropriate that Cinema Ritrovato would open June 25th in the Piazza with Charlie Chaplin’s classic masterpiece Modern Times with the accompaniment of a full orchestra. During the week Chaplin’s The Kid (1922) was also shown and its soundtrack, scored by Chaplin himself for the television version of the movie, was rediscovered and performed for the first time in its entirety by the excellent Orchestra Comunale di Bologna. Buster Keaton’s movies had the same inspiring presentation.
Italian film critic and lecturer Giuliana Muscio added that Cinema Ritrovato has been kind of a secret for international aficionados, “But things are changing,” she said. “People now come from all over world. Alexander Payne and George Lucas are just some of the people who restore movies privately and then show them here. On opening night I saw whole families at Chaplin’s Modern Times and heard parents explaining to the children behind me why Chaplin makes fun of the unions and fights for the workers. It is very important to see the great memories of film of the past to do better for tomorrow.”
"Cinema Ritrovato also creates new audiences for silent films and restored masterpieces with no borders. Again, the HFPA can become a valid sponsor of Cinema Ritrovato; not just for the money you already give, but also having a voice in what needs to be done and restored.”