May 2018, arsenal cinema

Archive außer sich: Italy ’68

L'AGGETTIVO DONNA, 1968

Between 1968 and 1977, there wasn’t just an increase in the number of campaigns conducted by the New Left on the streets of Italy, new forms of cinematic mass communication also sprung up alongside them. Labor disputes and police violence found their way into the films of the New Left, with feminist groups drawing attention to female living realities and themes such as abortion or machismo. The anti-psychiatry movement had a greater effect in Italy than in other countries, which ultimately brought about the abolition of closed psychiatric clinics. The films of the Italian New Left were a laboratory of cinematic forms. Prints from the Arsenal archive make up the bulk of the program put together by Cecilia Valenti and Fabian Tietke, which is supplemented with additional works by Aamod (Archivio audiovisivo del movimento operaio e democratico) and Cineteca Nazionale, and placed in a broader context by various guests and introductions.

EMIGRAZIONE ’68 (Emigration 68, Luigi Perelli, I 1969) and TREVICO – TORINO. VIAGGIO NEL FIAT-NAM (Ettore Scola, I 1973, 10.5., with guest Luigi Perelli) As a consequence of recruitment treaties with a series of northern European countries, the Italian state urged men from the poor regions of the south to go to abroad to work as “Gastarbeiter”: EMIGRAZIONE ’68 documents the experiences of loss suffered by these immigrants via images of the everyday that repeatedly switch to a negative optic in ghostly fashion. In Ettore Scola’s feature TREVICO – TORINO, the young Fortunato Santospirito from Trevico, a village in the south of Italy, ends up in Turin working for Fiat like thousands of others. In letters to his family, he gives an account of his new, unfamiliar life in the Italian north and his encounters with politics.

APOLLON, UNA FABBRICA OCCUPATA (Ugo Gregoretti, I 1970, 11.5.) In 1970, a group of filmmakers around director Ugo Gregoretti reconstructed the occupation of a printing works in Rome by workers protesting their dismissal in APOLLON. Footage of the occupation is supplemented with scenes in which the factory workers play themselves with obvious pleasure. APOLLON maintains  a fragile balance between a learning play and the individual example of this specific occupation and places a voiceover spoken by Gian Maria Volonté alongside the pugnacious dialogues of the reconstructed scenes. (10.5.)

Short Film Program “The New Left – New Form” (12.5.): In 1968, Alessandra Bocchetti’s DELLA CONOSCENZA already attempted to provide an initial overview of the different groupings within the Italian New Left. In the segment LA SEQUENZA DEL FIORE DI CARTA (I 1969) from Amore e rabbia, Pier Paolo Pasolini has Ninetto Davoli dance through the streets of Rome with a giant paper flower, editing images of 20th century horror into his capers. During an interrogation at the police headquarters in Milan, anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli plunged from a window to his death on December 15th, 1969. With the help of a group of actors around Gian Maria Volonté, Elio Petri’s TRE IPOTESI SULLA MORTE Di G. PINELLI (I 1970) picks apart the three official versions of what allegedly caused this incident. Italy’s New Left movement was accompanied by a visual revolution: working almost completely alone, graphic designer Giancarlo Buonfino made the animated film TOTEM about the history and present of Italian Capitalism.

Short Film Program “Political Practice and Urban Space” (12.5.): LA CASA È UN DIRITTO NON È UN PRIVILEGIO (I 1970) documents the wave of house occupations in Rome at the end of the 60s: the working-class residents of the borgate, left-wing priest Don Lutte, the tenants’ committee, who were in the orbit of the Communist Party, and the Comitato di Agitazione Borgate a self-organized group of residents and students founded in 1969 – all get to have their say. LOTTA PER LE CASE (I 1972) is less focused on observation in its depiction of collective, spontaneous “confiscations” in Milan: factory battles are transposed into the urban terrain, occupying houses is not just a symbolic event, but rather defended with true militancy.

Un PROCESSO PER STUPRO (Maria Grazia Belmonti, I 1979, 13.5., with an introduction by Cecilia Valenti) 18-year-old Fiorella has reported four men to the police for rape. A women’s collective from Rome uses video cameras to film what happens in the courtroom. The camera picks out how a wall of male complicity forms and how Fiorella shifts from being the accuser to the accused. Shot for public television in Italy, Un PROCESSO PER STUPRO behaves entirely differently to standard live tribunals: while these show “the handing of a crime from the perspective of the custodians of the law” (Cornelia Vismann), the camera shows solidarity with the woman in Belmonti’s film.

PROCESSO A CATERINA ROSS (Gabriella Rosaleva, I 1982, 13.5.) Gabriella Rosaleva’s PROCESSO A CATERINA ROSS restages a witch trial that originally took place in Poschiavo in the Italian part of Switzerland in 1667 in an empty factory close to Bovisa station in Milan. The visual compositions are minimalist, the devices employed kept restricted: a voiceover as the inquisitor, an actress as the woman accused of witchcraft, with a script that draws on the original court protocols. Remembering and forgetting, what is said and what remains unsaid all play an equal part in forming the witchcraft discourse.

Double Program “Female Living Realities” (15.5.): SABATO DOMENICA LUNEDÌ (I 1968) Saturday, Sunday, Monday – one weekend serves as the frame for filmmaker Ansano Giannarelli to explore the realities of female life in the 60s Italy taking three women as an example. The text commentary written by journalist Miriam Mafai forges far-reaching connections between the general situation and the specific cases of the three women. L’AGGETTIVO DONNA (I 1968) by Collettivo femminista di cinema has long since become a classic of feminist cinema: with a fantastic lightness of touch, the film combines advertising images full of clichés about traditional roles, historical footage, and interviews with women about their everyday lives into a declaration of war against the idea of women being aggettivo– appendages.

LA FOLLIA (D)E(L)LA RIVOLUZIONE (Franco Barbero, Claudio Caligari, I 1977, 16.5.) For a long time, psychoanalysis failed to make inroads into Italy. Idealism, Catholicism and fascism each regarded it as a pseudo-science, while Marxism saw it as a bourgeois ideology. It was only after 1968 that the situation gradually began to change: numerous groups were founded who took their bearings from Lacan, such as the Milan collective Semiotica e psicoanalisi, who organized an international conference on the subject of madness in 1976. LA FOLLIA (D)E(L)LA RIVOLUZIONE records the speeches given by the participants on video and shows how critiquing authority is linked to the question of the conditions for a “different” form of communication.

NESSUNO O TUTTI (I 1975, 17.5.) Silvano Agosti, Marco Bellocchio, Sandro Petraglia, and Stefano Rulli shot two feature-length documentaries together before their filmmaking paths diverged. NESSUNO O TUTTI – the first of the two – is a monument in the Italian anti-psychiatry movement. In its two parts – Tre storie (Three Stories) and Matti da slegare (Mad People to be Untied) – the film is dedicated to two variants of shutting people away. The first part picks up on the accounts of Paolo, Angelo and Marco, who were committed to institutions as children, while the second shows reality in a closed facility. (ft/cv)

With the friendly support of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Berlino.

The program is taking part within Archive außer sich. Archive außer sich is a project of Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, part of a cooperation with Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and Pina Bausch Foundation, part of The New Alphabet, a HKW project, supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag.