A documented, lyrical, and visionary journey to the origins of Italian silent film. A dazzling art form and industry that made the first international stars shine and launched the first movie directors. In its world of pomp and romantic delirium, between the symbolism of Verdi and D'Annunzio's Decadent movement, this cinema enjoyed international fame, fascinating crowds, intellectuals, and artists throughout Europe, and making it all the way to the United States and South America. Recounted through exceptional archival images – many of which have never been shown before – and by the voice of Isabella Rossellini, the movie brings back an era of splendor and the story of a country that would soon fall into the abyss of Fascism.
Céline Gailleurd, Olivier Bohler
(Nice, France, 1981; Marseilles, France, 1972) since 2010 have been jointly directing documentaries about film history: André S. Labarthe, Du chat au chapeau (2010), Jean-Luc Godard, Le Désordre exposition (2012), and Edgar Morin, Chronique d'un regard (2014). Their movies have been screened at festivals (Buenos Aires, Yamagata, Pesaro) and in locations dedicated to contemporary art (Tate Modern, the National Gallery Singapore). They have also made fiction shorts, including Dramonasc (2018) and the upcoming Harmony, winner of the SOFILM/Canal+ Prize. Olivier Bohler also directed the documentary Sous le nom de Melville, presented in Toronto in 2008. Céline Gailleurd is a professor at the University of Paris 8. They are both producers at Nocturnes Productions.
André S. Labarthe, Du chat au chapeau (doc, 2010), Jean-Luc Godard, Le Désordre exposition (doc, 2012), Edgar Morin, Chronique d'un regard (doc, 2014), Dramonasc (cm, 2018), Harmony (cm, 2020), Italia. Il fuoco, la cenere (doc, 2021).
“Italia. Il fuoco, la cenere is the story of an art form – cinema – and, at the same time, of an entire country, irreparably headed toward Fascism and the collapse of a deeply European culture. The nitrate spools that survived in the European film libraries we visited embody the memory of cinema and its fragility, its splendid beauty, and its inexorable decomposition. To us, archives are aesthetic matter, alive and pulsing. We wanted to give voice to those who created these images or who were spectators at the time: illustrious figures (Pirandello, Dalì, Francesca Bertini, Fellini) or unknown people. The movie is a reflection on the cinematographic gesture and the very origin of our desire for images.”
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