Italian Comedy – The State of Things (1937-1988)

During the 67th Venice International Film Festival, a retrospective entitled Italian Comedy – The State of Things (1937-1988) will be devoted to Italian comedy films, and in particular to its stars (especially the great forgotten ones).

The 67th Venice International Film Festival will take place on the Lido from September 1 to 11, 2010, directed by Marco Mueller and organized by la Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.

Italian Comedy – The State of Things (1937-1988)curated by Marco Giusti, Domenico Monetti and Luca Pallanch – will screen about thirty films from the early 1930’s to the end of the 1980’s. It is created by la Biennale di Venezia as a co-production with the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale, the institution responsible for the promotion and presentation of the Italian film heritage, with the support of the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities.

Of all the Italian film genres, comedy has always been the greatest popular economic resource for our cinema, from the days of Totò to the “cinepanettoni” – Italian popularist blockbuster comedies distributed at Christmas time. They have rarely, however, attracted any critical interest. So the fact that Venice dedicates a retrospective to Italian comedy films should be taken as a tribute to a genre that has all too often been relegated to the shadows.

Some of the most popular Italian comic actors (Diego Abatantuono, Lino Banfi, Lando Buzzanca, Christian De Sica, Enrico Montesano, Renato Pozzetto, Gigi Proietti, Carlo Verdone, Paolo Villaggio) will be at Venice to talk about the films and comic actors of the past, to whom they may be related when speaking of the influences and affinities that typify the history of comedy in Italian cinema. Alessandro Gassman, Gianmarco and Ricky Tognazzi will present films by Vittorio Gassman and Ugo Tognazzi. The most prestigious talents (directors, screenwriters, actors) of Italian comedy will “escort” the films during the retrospective in Venice: Lorenza Indovina, Mario Monicelli, Marco Risi, Emanuele Salce, Franca Valeri, Carlo and Enrico Vanzina.

Italian Comedy – The State of Things (1937-1988) is the ideal continuation of the retrospectives presented successfully in Venice in recent years (from Italian Kings of the B’s – the Secret History of Italian cinema in 2004, to These Ghosts 2. Italian Cinema Rediscovered in 2009) which have helped to cast light upon the country’s unjustly neglected production. Italian Comedy – The State of Things (1937-1988) pursues this direction, completing the project with the comic genre.

The retrospective is divided into two programs, one more pertinent to cinema of past decades in Sala Volpi (Palazzo del Cinema) and one more contemporary in Sala Perla.

The program planned for Sala Volpi includes 20 full-length feature films in addition to a number of film extracts, and will track the adventures of some of the greatest Italian comic actors with the choice of a film that properly represents them, ranging from the 1930’s through the mid 1970’s, when the advent of private television networks radically changed the nature of comedy. The films scheduled for screening include: Tutta la città canta, a rare experiment in comedy by horror-film maestro Riccardo Freda; L’onorata società, one of the first films by the duo Franchi-Ingrassia, launched by Domenico Modugno, who is both an actor and producer in this film, and directed by one of the future stars of the Banda Arbore, Riccardo Pazzaglia; Io non spezzo… rompo, with an amazing Alighiero Noschese who parodies Volontè in Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto; and the previously unseen Vittorio Gassman in Lo scatenato by the outsider Franco Indovina.

The program scheduled for the Sala Perla will include 7 full-length feature films, and is more contemporary (1970’s-1980’s). Popular Italian comic actors (Abatantuono, Banfi,  Christian De Sica, Enrico Montesano, Renato Pozzetto, Gigi Proietti, Carlo Verdone, Paolo Villaggio) have selected, from their own filmography, a work they are particularly fond of and which in many cases has become a cult movie (such as Febbre da cavallo, Eccezzziunale… veramente or Vacanze di Natale, the first of the most successful series in contemporary Italian cinema). 

An effective example of collaboration between institutions, such as festivals and film archives, that can prove to be complementary, this program of the Venetian retrospective has again been enriched by systematic research work, conducted primarily in the “underground storerooms of the Cineteca Nazionale”. As in recent years, the films that will be presented have been meticulously preserved and in some cases restored, and following Venice will be screened on the cultural circuits of Italy and abroad, offering new life to these films of the past, and offering today’s audience the chance to experience the history of cinema at first-hand.

Within the context of the permanent activities and the rediscovery and restoration of our cultural legacy, the choice of Italian Comedy – The State of Things (1937-1988) continues the work that began with the 2004 Venice Film Festival, and which since then has successfully re-introduced neglected Italian films (Italian Kings of the Bs; The Italian Underground; Casanova on the screen; A tribute to Fulvio Lucisano; The Centennial of Rossellini, Soldati, Visconti; Italian Westerns; These Ghosts: Italian Cinema Rediscovered (1946 – 1975), These Ghosts 2. Italian Cinema Rediscovered, along with international projects such as The Secret History of Asian film  in 2005 and the Secret History of Russian Film in 2006).