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«80!» The retrospective of the 69th Venice Film Festival

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Venice International Film Festival (1932-2012), the next edition will feature «80!»,a retrospective of ten films (seven feature-length films and three short/medium-length films) presented during past Venice Films Festivals. The films were selected on the basis of rarity, using the copies from the Collections of the Historic Archives of the Contemporary Arts of the Biennale (ASAC).
 
The 69th Venice Film Festival will take place from 29 August to 8 September 2012, directed by Alberto Barbera, and organized by the Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.
 
As has often been pointed out by historians and researchers, the films from the Venice Film Festival preserved over the years in the ASAC represent a valuable and extremely important legacy of documents. In many cases, they are the only copies of films that were considered lost, or of versions that differ from the copies successively released in theatres.
The retrospective project consists in the selection of a limited number of films not otherwise available in 35mm or Dvd copies, and that have never been restored.
The operation will make it possible to view or make public films that have long been forgotten or inaccessible, preparing them, after their world premiere showing in Venice, for future forms of cultural or commercial diffusion, while simultaneously highlighting the legacy of the ASAC Collections.
 
The President of the Biennale Paolo Baratta has declared: “I am particularly pleased to announce that the Venice International Film Festival, thanks to this initiative by Alberto Barbera, is enhanced by a project that cultivates our Archives, its legacy and its expertise”.
 
The research and examination of the materials, as well as the management of the contacts required to complete their restoration, was done by Stefano Francia di Celle under the direct supervision of the Director of the Venice Film Festival, Alberto Barbera.
 
The films in the selection are:
 
· Poslednjaja noc’ (The Last Night) by Yuli Yakovlevich Raizman (USSR, 1936, 100’, 35mm, black and white). From one the most award-winning “official” directors of Soviet film, the October Revolution seen through the interweaving events in the life of two families, one working class and one middle class, over a single night: the “last night” of the old world and the “first night” of the new.
 
· Dieu a besoin des hommes (God Needs Men) by Jean Delannoy (France, 1950, 100’, 35mm, black and white). The inhabitants of the wild island of Seil, battered by Atlantic storms, live their intense need for spirituality in non-conventional ways. This is the film that won Delannoy international fame, and won many awards (including the Ocic) at the 1950 Venice Film Festival. It has long been impossible to view.
 
· Genghis Khan by Manuel Conde and Salvador Lou (Philippines, 1950, 91’, 35mm, black and white). An adventure movie filmed audaciously in luxuriant natural settings, with a scarcity of means but ambitions worthy of Hollywood, it was also directed by Manuel Conde, an important figure in Philippine cinema, many of whose films have been lost.
 
· Il brigante (The Brigand) by Renato Castellani (Italy, 1961, 174’, 35mm, black and white). The copy in ASAC is the only trace of the longer version of the film, cut by the producer after the Venice Film Festival for commercial reasons. It has over thirty minutes of additional footage. Based on a novel by Giuseppe Berto, it is the story of a farmer in Calabria who squats landed estates, and is wrongfully accused of murder. It won the Fipresci prize at the 1961 Venice Film Festival.
 
· Free at Last by Gregory Shuker, James Desmond and Nicholas Proferes (USA, 1968, 73’, 16mm, col.). Produced for public television (PBS) in the United States, it uses a cinema-verité style to document Martin Luther King’s march on Washington in 1968, interrupted by the brutal homicide. The original ASAC copy is the only existing copy in the world, because it is on Ektachrome reversal film, which did not require a negative.
 
· Pagine chiuse by Gianni Da Campo (Italy, 1968, 98’, 35mm, black and white). An unjustly forgotten film, which embodies the intimate and understated spirit of the youth protest in those years. This was the successful film debut of Venetian director and writer Gianni Da Campo, who was only twenty-five years old at the time, and would later film La ragazza di passaggio (1970) and Il sapore del grano(1986).Presented at the 29th Venice International Film Festival (1968), it raised considerable controversy, but won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Festival the following year and many other awards.
 
· Stress-es tres-tres (Stress is three) by Carlos Saura (Spain, 1968, 94’, 35mm, black and white). A road-movie that explores the condition and the fantasies of the modern couple, with an original style that is both dry and oneiric at the same time. One of the first films by Carlos Saura with Geraldine Chaplin, who would be the director’s partner in real life for many years.
 
· Pytel blech (A Bagful of Fleas) by Vera Chytilová (Czechoslovakia, 1963, 44’, 35mm, black and white). The misery of everyday life, the existential void, the pompous didactic rhetoric of Communism inside a youth hostel. A documentary with ironic and grotesque moments, and one of the early works of Vera Chytilová, a key figure in the “nová ulna”, the new wave of Czechoslovakian film in the 1960’s. The only existing copy in the world.
 
· Zablácené mesto (Mud-covered City) by Václav Táborský (Czechoslovakia, 1963, 8’, 35mm, black and white). In a new district under construction in Prague, mud is the citizens’ main concern: an ironic visual fantasy about the ambiguous – and sometimes absurd – urban and social development policies in Czechoslovakia in the Sixties.
 
· Ahora te vamos a llamar hermano by Raoul Ruiz (Chile, 1971, 13’, 35mm, col.). An account of the first law proclaimed by Allende that declared the Mapuches Indians to be full-fledged citizens, with all the relative rights. Manifestations of joy and speeches by the Indians described with visual talent and a taste for experimentation by the master of Chilean film Raoul Ruiz. Only surviving copy.
 
The selected films will undergo a process of digital restoration at the “L’Immagine Ritrovata” laboratory in Bologna, or restored analogically with the purpose of obtaining a new 35mm copy.
This programme has been made possible by the collaboration with many Italian and foreign film libraries and societies, some of which will also contribute economically to the completion of the restoration processes: Cineteca Italiana in Milan, Cineteca di Bologna, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, Istituto Luce and Mediaset for Italy, along with Gosfilmfond (Moscow), Filmoteca Española (Madrid), Paramount (Los Angeles), CNC-Centre National de la Cinématographie (Paris), Cinémathèque française (Paris), the Film Development Council of Philippines (FDCP, Manila), the British Film Institute (London), Národní filmový archiv (Prague) and Wnet New York Public Media, which provided access to the original materials in their possession for comparison, or the negatives to reprint the copies.
 
The Biennale will keep one 35mm or DCP/HD-cam copy of all the restored films, for preservation or future release in film circuits.