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).
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 of a limited number of films not otherwise available in 35mm or DVD copies, and that have never been restored. The Biennale will keep one 35mm or DCP/HD-cam copy of all the restored films, for preservation or future release in film circuits.
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 hermanoby 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.