The director of the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna, Gian Luca Farinelli, is this year's Special Guest of this 10th edition of the MIFC. And as tradition dictates, it was Gérald Duchaussoy who gave the keynote address on Tuesday afternoon, the opening day of the market.
Gian Luca has been here since the beginning of the Festival. In fact, at the beginning of the keynote, he recalled his pleasure to be in Lyon, where the Lumière brothers shot the first film. And since 2013, the man who directs the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna has also taken on other functions since this year he became president of the Festival of Rome. And for him, the link between the cinema of the past and the cinema of the present is obvious because, according to him, they are the same thing. All speak the same language, that of the 7th art and can provoke the same emotion.
After this enthusiastic introduction, Gian Luca Farinelli detailed a little more the activities of the Cineteca di Bologna, which also acts as a distribution company. He explained that the idea came from France and their desire to see the films presented at the festival Il Cinema Ritrovato arrive in Italian theaters. La Cineteca releases 8 films per year, from September to May, the first week of the month in a network of theaters that have a real relationship with their audience and work their releases. He assures that, or 2020, the public of these films is rather stable, about 100,000 entries per year, and particularly young.
The Cineteca is a foundation since 2012 only. It was previously linked to the City Council of Bologna but has always had a desire for independence. There are two companies within this cinematheque: the Immagine Ritrovata laboratories and the Modernissimo theaters. In addition to this, the traditional work of the cinematheque is to conserve, preserve and promote the heritage. The Cineteca di Bologna was originally founded in 1962 at the instigation of the city council of Bologna, which was making a real effort to modernize its cinematheque compared to the rest of Italy. In 1982 the first cinema was built and in 1986 the festival Il Cinema Ritrovato was established, while the laboratories arrived in 1992. A school was even created to train students in these restoration professions and it was in 1995 that the laboratories began to prove themselves. They first made their reputation on silent films for other cinematheques, then the private ones arrived. It is really with the advent of digital that Immagine Ritrovata saw its activity develop internationally, working in particular for institutions, for Gaumont, Pathé, TF1 but also for American and Far Eastern companies. Then it was the turn of foundations such as that of Martin Scorsese.
Co-founder of the Association of European Film Libraries at the end of the 1980s, Gian Luca Farinelli has always had at heart to see culture as sharing. His philosophy is that heritage has a value and it must be accessible to all. And according to him, this mentality of the cinematheques is the one that has triumphed. He tells us that when he was young, he created a film club in order to have access to films that were difficult to see elsewhere. And he charged admission to pay for his little business of showing films. But now, thanks to digital technology, everything is accessible, everything is within reach and everything can be shared. And for Gian Luca Farinelli, this is an invaluable opportunity. According to him, the present will be more present than ever in our societies thanks to this generalized access and this is a source of hope.
Still it is necessary to reach the public. To convince them. Contaminate them with the virus of the 7th art. The director of the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna has understood that this is a major challenge. He puts it into practice by, for example, trying to find the right screening times for each audience: 4pm on weekends for families, 10:30pm for students or even the second half of the morning for retirees. The festival is also a good way to attract audiences to the heritage, with evening screenings in Piazza Maggiore during Il Cinema Ritrovato that attract up to 8,000 people. But above all he wants to develop and make the Cineteca a unique place where people will want to come, just like that. Where the place will almost take precedence over the programming because it is time, according to him, to gather. Cinema is a collective sport. And if the desire crossed his mind to make a platform, he quickly gave it up, for lack of means and not being really convinced that it was his role. On the other hand, in addition to its work as a film exhibitor and distributor, the Cineteca also publishes DVDs, Blu-rays and other books to "do what others don't do" and bring heritage cinema into the home. The Cineteca's teams spend a lot of time working on these editions: six years on a two-part Buster Keaton box set, for example. Objects out of the market but collector. Its ambition? To produce documentaries on cinema, but this desire is somewhat contradicted in Italy by the accessibility of rights to archives.
Gian Luca Farinelli in two films is: The man with the camera of Dziga Vertov which he saw, young, the first 20 minutes in a terrible copy. But the shock was intense. And The Passion of Joan of Arc by Carl Theodor Dreyer, the first film that gave him the feeling that he was being spoken to directly, thus understanding that the notion of "old film" did not exist.
For the director of the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna "Heritage is all cinema, from Lumière to this morning". And for him, passing on this taste for heritage is a revolutionary act. The one who considers himself a "cultural agitator" strongly believes in a future where the relationship with heritage cinema will only grow and that we are only at the beginning. "We have an accessibility and a truth of history that has never happened before and therefore a possibility of unprecedented transformation of society," he concludes with an enthusiasm that, in these gloomy times, warms the ears and the heart.
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