Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Open Roads 2013: HANDMADE CINEMA--Guido Torlonia's feast of movie memorabilia

For those of you who appreciated last year's look at the work of famed Italian production designer Dante Ferretti (above, left), I suspect you'll find this year's documentary nod to Italian cinema history even more of a treat. In it we see not just Ferretti and his oft-times collaborator Francesca Lo Schiavo (above, right), but so many of the amazing artisans (or let's just call them "artists," as Signore Ferretti politely points out) who do the wonderful carpentry, sculpture, costumes, furniture, millinery work and so much more that have gone into great Italian cinema down the decades -- and is still going on, or maybe barely hanging on. But it's there. And now, with this terrific little film, we're made aware.

Here we meet everyone from the hat- and wig-makers (above) to the jewelers and each is as fascinating, fun and charming as you could want. We watch them work and see some of their hits from ages (and films) past. For those of us of a certain age, this is spectacular and highly nostalgic. If names like Piero Tosi, Maurizio Millenotti and Gabriella Pescucci don't immediately ring a bell, they will once you've viewed this film.

We learn about Sophia Loren's famous wigs, watch a father and son (above) grow annoyed with each other (but keep it all under wraps), and learn that the folk who build the sets are indeed actual furniture makers, carpenters and construction people who know what they are doing -- and do it right.

The costumes from The Leopard?  They're here, all right. The hats worn by Silvana Mangano in  Death in Venice?  Ah, yes! And we're told about and see the paintings of the recreated Sistine Chapel from the half-century-old Agony and the Ecstasy.

The documentary is a wonderful paean to the hand-crafters who have made Italian cinema the wonder that it is. As someone notes, during the course of the film, "If you want to invest in Italy, invest in the crafts!" With a fine narration by Chiara Mastroianni, who tells us lovingly about visiting the sets on which her famous father labored, the film works its magic doubly. And the ending, with Chiara as a little girl, is simply exquisite, enchanting.

Handmade Cinema, directed by Guido Torlonia (shown at right) and written by Torlonia and Laura Delli Colli, runs just 52 minutes and plays twice at Open Roads in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center: on Friday, June 7, at 3:45 and again Sunday, June 9, also at 3:45. On the program with this documentary is another doc -- The Rescue, by Giovanna Taviani (click and scroll down)-- which I have not seen but will during its public screenings at Open Roads, so I will report on it at that time.  To view the entire Open Roads program, click here.

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