Monday, October 17, 2016

Festa del Cinema di Roma - Valerio Zurlini Retrospective

Valerio Zurlini's "La ragazza con la valigia"
It's not everyday you get the chance to see short films made by an Italian master before he became a master and then with English subtitles.. and then among ancient Roman ruins. Well that's how I spent my Sunday evening and it's just one of the reasons why the Festa del Cinema in Rome is still my favorite annual cinema event.

The Sala Trevi is hosting the festival's impressive retrospective of director Valerio Zurlini's work. Perhaps best known for La ragazza con la valigia (Girl With a Suitcase) starring a young, gorgeous Claudia Cardinale, this retrospective includes some lesser known works, such as a series of short films he made in the early 1950's. Curated by Domenico Monetti and Mario Sesti in collaboration with Rome's famous film school- Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia - Cineteca, opening night of the retrospective featured these rare short films, each of which give profound insight into the early perspective of the filmmaker and the inspiration he drew from the Eternal City.

Run by the Cineteca Nazionale, the Trevi theater is about a 3-minute walk from the Fountain of Trevi and was named after Rome's beloved actor Alberto Sordi, who passed away in 2003. Upon entering the intimate theater space, we were treated to a stunning restoration of ancient Roman ruins, which set the stage for an hour and a half of going back in time to post World War II Italy through these beautiful, black and white treasures. 

The short films shown on Opening Night of the Zurlini retrospective included Racconto del quartiere (1950), Pugilatori (1952), I blues della domenica (1952), Il mercato delle facce (1952), Serenata da un soldo (1953) and La stazione, Soldati in città (1953). Each film features a rocking jazz soundtrack and shows exactly how Romans lived in the years following World War II. From women washing their clothes at a local fountain to movie extras desperately looking for work to the boom in New Orleans jazz to Italian soldiers stationed in Rome, these films are poetic vignettes that transport the viewer back to a simpler time when the roads were not congested with traffic and people were not walking around looking at their cell phones.

What struck me the most about these films was the music- the strong influence of New Orleans jazz on these Roman musicians and filmmakers- something I never knew about Rome. I appreciated that Zurlini gave these musicians command of the scenes. As you will see in the clip I posted below, the musicians played freely. The sessions in the films went on for 3-5 minutes without interruption. That's a pretty big chunk of time in a short film.

The Valerio Zurlini retrospective will last through the week. Below is the complete lineup. For more information, visit the theater's website.

Tuesday, October 17
8:30pm Estate violenta (1959, 98')

Wednesday, October 18
5:00pm La ragazza con la valigia (1960, 121')
7:30pm Cronaca familiare (1962, 122')

Thursday, October 19
5:00pm Le soldatesse (1965, 120')
7:30pm Come, quando, perché by Antonio Pietrangeli (1968, 103')
9:30pm Seduto alla sua destra (1968, 93')

The ancient Roman ruins of the Trevi Theater

Thursday, October 20
5:00pm La promessa (1970, 143')
8:00pm La prima notte di quiete (1972, 132')

Friday, October 21
5:00pm Il deserto dei tartari (1976, 150')

Saturday, October 22
5:00pm Le ragazze di San Frediano (1954, 90')
6:45pm La prima notte di quiete (1972, 132') 
8:15pm Cronaca familiare (1962, 122') 

Sunday, October 23
5:00pm Estate violenta 1959, 98')
6:45pm La ragazza con la valigia (1960, 121') 
9:00pm Il deserto dei tartari (1976, 150') 

Click here to visit the Festa del Cinema online.

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