Programming @ Cinema Ritrovato
I first visited Bologna as a non-Italian speaking tourist in 1992. I was subsequently based there for many years, first attending Cinema Ritrovato when it was still a relatively small event in 1993. When by 2005 I both spoke Italian and proposed a program including Sarah Bernhardt to Gian Luca Farinelli, I was not sure he would agree to screen works from such a famous stage actress. There had never been a program screening Bernhardt and her existent films. And Bernhardt was still largely (and mistakenly) seen as a theatrical actress who reached surprising and inexplicable success through her feature film, Queen Elizabeth (1912).
It was brilliant to see her films on screen, accompanied by live music, and given the respect they deserve. Are they amazing works that will transfix audiences? No. They are fascinating for the appeal they once held. They remind us that we cannot see history as it was experienced. And that is the point: to learn to look differently. At film. And at women performing on film, making film, and today curating and programming histories we often ignore, forget and elide..