In his article on MaTerre for the research for the identity of cinema, Adriano Aprà makes a lucid and far-sighted analysis of the current situation of the Italian film industry and of the positive aspects of the new era of cinema.
The identity of contemporary Italian cinema
It is fair to say: poverty of contemporary Italian cinema. I am actually saying: rebirth of contemporary Italian cinema.
The problem is that in the last few years a worrying but useful breakdown has occurred between what is produced officially and what is produced independently.
I received the Donatello’s David in 2018, an official prize reserved exclusively for films screened only in the commercial cinemas. I had the possibility to watch the half of them, something like 130 feature and medium-length fiction films and documentaries (even if, nowadays, it is difficult to distinguish between them). My verdict is: there are a dozen of worthy titles.
Obviously, the most popular titles left me cold. I have been always like this: an upstream, or better “non-standard” guy.
Today, the best Italian cinema is made out of the official production – helped by a decrease in the digital cost – or thanks to its minimal funds. The problem is that this rebirth is taking place “under evidence”, and we – the members of the Associazione culturale Fuorinorma (Fuorinorma Cultural Association) – want to bring it out a little more through our “cultural voluntary work”. It is no coincidence, of course, if most of these films has a “non-standard” style: it means that they do not satisfy the conservative expectations of producers, distributors and exhibitors.
Even if in the past this sector experienced a favourable experimentation growth through neo-realism – the nouvelle vague of Sixties – today the cinema is gasping. Cinemas are no longer the favourite, even unique, place where to watch a film. There are independent cinemas throughout Italy, small places where an audience-friendly approach is granted. You can watch films on DVD, on web, even on your mobile phones. Should we regret the big screens? The answer is no, because today cinemas and videos are made by talented people who can use the caméra-stylo designed by Alexandre Astruc in 1948. Passing through the 16mm-Nagra and the analogue video, today the caméra-stylo has fully evolved into a more functional one.
This enabled a radical innovation of the expressive forms, the creation of a new, more creative, subjective and intimate language. The cinema – which has been only mass spectacle (with many exceptions during its life) – is today a self medium too. In this sense the economic crisis, which affected also the cinema, has been useful: it released creative forces which would be repressed otherwise under the burden of the industrial machine. We, members of Fuorinorma, have chosen around one hundred of feature and medium-length films of the last decade and around thirty short-films of Italian authors – one film per author – which demonstrates this renewal. Around 240 film have been screened in independent cinemas in Rome, just outside Rome and abroad. A trend, of course. Maybe, a school. Still not a movement. However, we are trying to make sure that all these authors, who act mostly alone, know each other, realize that they share their problems, concerns, investigations with many other “brothers” and “sisters” from all over the country.
Moreover – and it is not one of the minor credits – this new type of cinema is pervaded by positive values, far from the catastrophic world view which is typical of many “successful” films. It focuses on what was called documentary in the past and that I prefer to call nonfiction, even if I do not really like this negative word. But how to define an essay, autobiographic, poetic, anti-novels cinema?
Those who want to make cinema today should know the glitter of the red carpet is an illusory chimera that no longer matches the reality of this art. They should also know that producing a film is not enough; the most ambitious thing is to express themselves through moving images and sounds. In addition, it should be done by using a calm, dialogic, brotherly voice, without shouting.
Adriano Aprà in Matera!!
Adriano Aprà will be in Matera for MaTerre Friday, April 26, at “Le Monacelle, with a lectio magistralis entitled “What identity for contemporary cinema. Book now this event!