Rosita by Ernst Lubitsch: Pre-inaugural Evening of the 74th Venice Film Festival

7/20/2017 12:00:00 AM

Rosita, famed as the single collaboration between two of the giants of the silent screen, the director Ernst Lubitsch and the star Mary Pickford, is the film that has been chosen for the Pre-inaugural evening of the 74th Venice International Film Festival

Rosita, will be screened in a new 4K digital restoration effected by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, with the support of The Film Foundation; this will be the restored version’s world premiere. The screening of Rosita will feature live music played by the Mitteleuropa Orchestra of Friuli – Venezia Giulia, directed by the musicologist Gillian Anderson, who has reconstructed the film’s original score by working on scores recovered at the Congressional Library in Washington, D.C. 

Rosita is set in a mythical Spain where an engagingly lecherous King (Holbrook Blinn) has cast his eye on a popular but provocative street singer (Mary Pickford). She, in turn, yearns for the handsome young nobleman (George Walsh, brother of the celebrated director Raoul Walsh), who has rescued her from the angry king’s guards and has been condemned to a dungeon for his troubles. Following the American success of his German historical epics (Madame DuBarry, Anna Boleyn), Ernst Lubitsch was invited to Hollywood by Mary Pickford to direct her in what would become her first adult role, as a street singer of Seville who attracts the flattering but inconvenient interest of the King of Spain (Holbrook Blinn).  

The film was, by all accounts, a major critical and commercial success on its first release, but in later years Pickford turned against it, for reasons that still remain mysterious, and decides to allow the film to decay (she did, however, preserve reel four, for reasons no less mysterious). Rosita vanished from circulation until a nitrate print was discovered in the Russian archives and repatriated by the Museum of Modern Art in the 1960s. A safety preservation negative was made from the nitrate print, but no further work was done on the film because of the expense and difficulty of recreating the English intertitles.  Happily, a copy of a complete continuity script, which includes all of the intertitles, surfaced in the collection of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Using the titles in Pickford’s preserved fourth reel as a template, new intertitles have been created to match the original.  

Working with this new material, MoMA has recreated this celebrated but severely damaged film in a form as close as possible to its original release. Musicologist Gillian Anderson has recreated the original theatrical score, working from the music cue sheets surviving at the Library of Congress. The Mitteleuropa Orchestra belongs to a long musical tradition focusing on central and southern Europe. In the early 2000s, it was institutionalized by the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region and supported by several municipalities and provinces in the region. It currently counts 47 stable orchestra professors and a solid independent management. Its headquarter is in the Loggia della Gran Guardia in Palamanova, a historical building dating back to the XVI century, facing the marvellous square of the famous star-shaped city. 

Since January 2017, the Orchestra Music Director is Master Marco Guidarini. His versatile repertoire goes from baroque to contemporary, from classical to cross-over music. The Mitteleuropa Orchestra played successfully both in Italy and abroad – France, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania. It participated in many international events, from Venice Music Biennale to Mittelfest, from the Pordenone Silent Film Festival to the concert for the beatification of John Paul II.


The restored films of Venice Classics

7/18/2017 12:00:00 AM

Director Giuseppe Piccioni to head the Jury of Cinema History Students

Italian director Giuseppe Piccioni (Not of This World, Light of My Eyes, These Days) will chair the Jury of Cinema History Students which – for the fifth time – will award the VENEZIA CLASSICI AWARD for the BEST RESTORED FILM and the BEST DOCUMENTARY ON CINEMA.

The numerous restored masterpieces in the Venezia Classici section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival include:1900 by Bernardo Bertolucci (1976); Red Desert by Michelangelo Antonioni (1964), awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival; A Story from Chikamatsu (1954) and Sansho the Bailiff (1954), awarded the Silver Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, by Kenji MizoguchiWanderers of the Desert by Nacer Khemir (1984); The Revolt of Mamie Stover by Raoul Walsh (1956); The Third Lover by Claude Chabrol (1962); Black Peter by Miloš Forman (1963); Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Steven Spielberg (1977); Batch ’81 by Mike De Leon (1982), and Into the Night by John Landis (1985).

The 74th Venice International Film Festival will be held at the Lido from August 30 to September 9, 2017; it is directed by Alberto Barbera and organized by the Biennale chaired by Paolo Baratta.

Since 2012, and with growing success, the Festival section Venezia Classici has been presenting the world premieres of a selection of the best restorations of classic films conducted over the previous year by film libraries, cultural institutions and productions all over the world. Curated by Alberto Barbera in collaboration with Stefano Francia di CelleVenezia Classici also presents a selection of documentaries about cinema and its filmmakers. The Jury, chaired by Giuseppe Piccioni, is composed of 26 cinema history students – nominated by their professors – in their final year at Italian universities, DAMS performing arts courses, and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.

The list of the films selectedfor the Venezia Classici section of the 74th Festival:

Les baliseurs du désert / El-haimoune (Wanderers of the Desert)

by Nacer Khemir (Tunisie, France, 1984, 95’, COL.)

Restoration: Cinémathèque royale de Belgique


Batch ‘81

by Mike De Leon (Philippines, 1982, 108’, COL.)

Restoration: Asian Film Archive


Cerný Petr (Black Peter)

by Miloš Forman (Czechoslovakia, 1963, 89’, B/W)

Restoration: Národní filmový archiv


Chikamatsu monogatari (A Story from Chikamatsu)

by Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1954, 102’, B/W)

Restoration: Kadokawa Corporation, The Film Foundation with the cooperation of The Japan Foundation


Close Encounters of the Third Kind 

by Steven Spielberg (USA, 1977, 137’, COL.)

Restoration: Sony Pictures Entertainment


Daïnah la métisse

by Jean Grémillon (France, 1932, 48’, B/W)

followed by Zéro de conduite – rushes by Jean Vigo (France, 1933, 20’, B/W)

Restoration: Gaumont with the support of Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée


Il deserto rosso (Red Desert)

by Michelangelo Antonioni (Italy, 1964, 120’, COL.)

Restoration: CSC-Cineteca Nazionale with the cooperation of RTI-Mediaset


Deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle (Two or Three Things I Know About Her)

by Jean-Luc Godard (France, 1967, 87’, COL.)

Restoration: Argos Films with the support of Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée


La donna scimmia (The Ape Woman)

by Marco Ferreri (Italy, France, 1964, 93’, B/W)

Restoration: Cineteca di Bologna and TF1 Studio with the cooperation of Surf Film


Idi i smotri (Come and See)

by Elem Klimov (USSR, 1985, 143’, COL.)

Restoration: Mosfilm (producer of the restoration, Karen Shakhnazarov)


Into the Night

by John Landis (USA, 1985, 115’, COL.)

Restoration: Universal Pictures


Non c’è pace tra gli ulivi (Under the Olive Tree)

by Giuseppe De Santis (Italy, 1950, 107’, B/W)

Restoration: CSC-Cineteca Nazionale with the cooperation of CristaldiFilm by Zeudi Araya and Massimo Cristaldi


Novecento (1900)

by Bernardo Bertolucci (Italy, 1976, 317’, COL.)

Restoration: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Istituto Luce - Cinecittà and Cineteca di Bologna, with the cooperation of Alberto Grimaldi and the support of Massimo Sordella


Ochazuke no Aji (Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice)

by Yasujiro Ozu (Japan, 1952, 115’, B/W)

Restoration: Shochiku Co., Ltd.


L’oeil du malin(The Third Lover)

by Claude Chabrol (France, 1962, 91’, B/W)

Restoration: Studiocanal with the support of Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée


The Old Dark House

by James Whale (USA, 1933, 72’, B/W)

Restoration: Cohen Film Collection / Cohen Media Group


The Revolt of Mamie Stover

by Raoul Walsh (USA, 1956, 93’, COL.)

Restoration: 20th Century Fox


Sansho dayu (Sansho the Bailiff)

by Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1954, 126’, B/W)

Restoration: Kadokawa Corporation, The Film Foundation with the cooperation of The Japan Foundation


The Venezia Classici section will also feature the presentation of a selection of documentaries about cinema and its filmmakers. The complete list of the section will be announced during the press conference presenting the program of the Venice Film Festival, on Thursday, July 27th  at 11 am in Rome (Cinema Moderno).


Giuseppe Piccioni – Biography

Giuseppe Piccioni has directed ten movies since 1987. He has participated at many film festivals (Venice, Berlin, Moscow, Montreal, London, Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco), receiving awards in Italy and abroad, and has worked with Italy’s top actors. 

His film Not of this World (Fuori dal mondo, 1999), starring Margherita Buy and Silvio Orlando, received five David di Donatello Awards, four Golden Ciak Awards, the Golden Goblet for Best Producer, the Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago International Film Festival, Best Feature Film and the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles, and the Special Grand Prize of the Jury at the Montréal World Film Festival. The film was nominated to represent Italy at the Oscars.  

In 2001, he presented Light of My Eyes (Luce dei miei occhi) In Competition at the 58th Venice International Film Festival; the protagonists, Sandra Ceccarelli and Luigi Lo Cascio, each received a Volpi Cup for their performance.

In 2004, he released The Life That I Want (La vita che vorrei), once again starring the couple Lo Cascio-Ceccarelli. The movie was presented at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival in the Panorama section. That same year, it participated In Competition at the Moscow International Film Festival, and at the film festivals in Edinburgh and San Francisco.

After Giulia Doesn’t Date at Night (Giulia non esce la sera,2009),starring Valeria Golino,and The Red and the Blue (Il rosso e il blu, 2012),starring Margherita Buy, Roberto Herlitzka and Riccardo Scamarcio, he directed These Days (Questi giorni, 2016), presented In Competition at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival in 2016. The film stars Maria Roveran, Marta Gastini, Laura Adriani, Caterina Le Caselle, and Margherita Buy.


Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation Sends Restored Classics to Colombia’s IndieBo Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

Anna Marie de la Fuente

6/26/2017 12:00:00 AM

New pact includes the screening of ‘All About Eve,’ ‘One-Eyed Jacks’ and ‘On the Waterfront’

Colombia’s fledgling Bogota indie film festival, IndieBo, has scored a coup with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation in a pact that will have the festival screening a selection of 10 restored classics from the foundation’s library starting this year.

Among the titles in the selection are Marlon Brando’s 1961 Western “One-Eyed Jacks,” Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “All About Eve,” Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront,” Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night,” Nicholas Ray’s “Rebel Without a Cause” and Billy Wilder’s “Witness for the Prosecution.”

“This will be an annual event; some of these titles have never screened in Colombia,” said IndieBo artistic director/programmer Juan Carvajal, who cobbled the agreement with the foundation in New York.

He added: “After seeing ‘One Eyed Jacks’ and [Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 sci-fi epic] “Stalker” in New York, I felt that Colombia had to live this marvelous and unique experience, too, and that’s what drove me to pursue this agreement.” The festival will also be screening “Stalker” and “Reservoir Dogs” to commemorate the latter’s 25th anniversary.

“Movies touch our hearts, awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places. They open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime. We need to keep them alive,” said Scorsese who created the foundation in 1990.

“Screenings at festivals like the IndieBo Film Festival in Bogota allow audiences to experience these classic works as they were meant to be seen,” he added.

“With film, as any art form, the present is in constant dialogue with the past. Our friends at IndieBo share the goal of celebrating these great works from the past as they honor the filmmakers of today,” said Margaret Bodde, Executive Director of the Film Foundation.

Founded by Paola Turbay, Alejandro Estrada and Carvajal, the festival’s 3rd edition runs from July 13 to July 23 this year. In a joint statement, they said: “It is IndieBo’s mission to change and impact Colombian society through ten days of art and culture. Through these stories we value and find necessary to show, we will expose the origins of the art we promote at a time when we feel the need to touch people’s hearts and open their minds.”

New titles in the official lineup include “God’s Own Country” by Francis Lee which won a Special Jury Award for directing at the Sundance World Cinema competition; Sally Potter’s “The Party;” Kantemir Balagov’s Fipresci prizewinning “Closeness” and Marc Greico’s “A River Below.”

IndieBO also includes Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon retrospectives.

Underscoring the festival’s mission to connect people with the latest in audiovisual technology, IndieBO will also host video-sharing website Vimeo which will present a selection of shorts including acclaimed 360 video “The Giant” that premiered at SXSW in March and a master class on online distribution. Virtual reality showcase IndieBox will again be installed at the capital’s monolithic national Heroes Monument and will include 4D interactive virtual reality experiences such as “Tree,” which screened at Sundance and Tribeca. “Caracol TV will be covering the festival even more,” said Carvajal.

The enthusiastic reception of technology and film in Colombia’s capital is no surprise given the upsurge in national filmmaking and Colombians’ propensity to adopt the latest advances in technology. Last year, IndieBo saw a spike in attendance to 45,000 and IndieBox more than 10,000 visitors. As in other years, the festival overlaps with the annual Bogota Audiovisual Market, BAM, which runs July 10-14.


'Beat the Devil' a Bogart oddity, digitally restored to its oddball fullest

Michael Phillips

6/16/2017 12:00:00 AM

In film circles, the phrase turns up constantly in the marketing of revivals: "new 4k restoration." New's good, right? Naturally. All new things must be good. Or, at any rate, new.

Before we get into the weirdest movie Humphrey Bogart ever made, let's talk about that "4k restoration" phrase. Then we'll get into how it applies to the newly restored, eternally brazen 1953 oddity "Beat the Devil," opening June 30 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

"New 4k restoration" means a studio or an archive or a foundation has financed the cleanup and digital transfer of an existing movie. The restoration draws upon the best surviving elements of the film's original print negative, a duplicate negative and other materials.

The goal is to assemble "the fullest and best version of what's available," says Sony Pictures Executive Vice President Grover Crisp, who oversees the company's asset management, film restoration and digital mastering.

A 4k restoration refers to a horizontal screen resolution of approximately 4,000 pixels. The more pixels, the more complex the visual detail. The more complex the detail, the more you can appreciate the creases, contours and general fabulousness of Bogart's face, or the fabric of the suits his co-stars are wearing.

A typical 4k restoration offers no new footage. It's simply the sharpest digital iteration of a movie available. Whether or not it represents the optimal viewing experience is a debate for another article; the warmth of celluloid versus the harder, arguably more clinical edge of high-def digital constitutes an ongoing aesthetic battle. Recent 4k restorations of "The Third Man" or "Taxi Driver" or "Blood Simple" bring out additional shadow detail and a heightened contrast in tones and hues. But in terms of the film itself, there's nothing NEW-new about them.

Then there's "Beat the Devil," restored last year and currently making the rounds at the nation's art and specialty houses. It is a uniquely punch-drunk champion in the annals of rogue cinema. And thanks to the timely discovery of the film's uncensored international version in a London vault, contemporary curiosity-seekers are treated to four additional minutes of footage; a reordered narrative chronology; the removal of some really lazy voice-over narration spoken by Bogart; and a clearer, better, brighter visual palette than "Beat the Devil" has had in decades.

"Only phonies like it," Bogart said. (His production company put up much of the money, and lost it.) The source was a 1949 book by Anglo-Scots journalist-turned-novelist Claud Cockburn, writing under the pseudonym James Helvick because of his Communist past. His story concerned a ragtag group of international swindlers colluding and colliding along the French Riviera. The ringleader is an American, Billy Dannreuther, whom Bogart played in the screen version.

Director John Huston hated the screenplay he was stuck with. One week prior to filming on location, with all his actors lined up and ready, he nearly bailed. But David O. Selznick, the mogul husband of "Beat the Devil" co-star Jennifer Jones, suggested that a young writer named Truman Capote come to Ravello, near Naples, and take a whack at a rewrite. Along with Jones, the cast included Gina Lollobrigida as Billy's Anglophile wife; Robert Morley as one of the comical ruffians; Peter Lorre, his hair dyed to look like Capote's, as an ex-Nazi going by the name of O'Hara; and assorted other eccentrics.

Much has been written about the way "Beat the Devil" came together, barely. Capote rewrote as fast as he could, every day. Huston devised elaborate camera setups to kill time while waiting for the script pages. The cast, other than Bogart, didn't realize the ruse.

"John and I," Capote later said, referring to Huston, "decided to kid the story, to treat it as a parody." Co-star Jones, whose fabulist character speaks like an Oscar Wilde creation out of "The Importance of Being Earnest," never understood what her character was supposed to be thinking, or saying, or feeling. The plot, as recooked by Capote and Huston, moved the story's action (dominated by talk) from France to Italy. It focused on Bogart and company conspiring to sail to Africa to buy a uranium mine. In large part, "Beat the Devil" is a movie about a group of castoffs waiting for their boat to sail.

The plot wasn't a plot; Capote himself called it "a so-called plot." The tone was peculiar, amusing to some, baffling to others. A censored, reordered and even less comprehensible version played U.S. theaters. "Strange indeed" is how the Chicago Daily Tribune reviewed it.

Given the mass shrug greeting "Beat the Devil," how did it grow into a cult favorite, long before the latest restoration? Partly, it was due to a handful of critics (notably Pauline Kael) who responded to the movie's blithe artificiality and brazen indifference to playing by normal rules of screenwriting.

Last year, Sony Pictures' Crisp headed the restoration of "Beat the Devil," partnering with the Film Foundation and other funding sources.

"There are two kinds of restorations," he says. "One makes the film look as good as possible. The other is when the film, sadly, is in disarray, and is either deteriorating or pretty badly damaged, as this film was. There were parts missing. Our U.K. distributor came up with some missing footage, and the version they found in a vault in London was a revelation. It had all this other material in it, four minutes' worth. And that version told us, effectively, how we should put it all back together."

Result: The new introductory scenes focus on Jones' character in an intriguing way. The Bogart narration vanishes. The flashback structure is no more. Certain sexual aspects of the so-called storyline come through more clearly now, including dialogue about Jones waiting for Bogart to make a pass at her, and a rhyming scene (the movie tiptoes up to a double infidelity) featuring an outrageous shot of Lollobrigida's cleavage, unseen by U.S. audiences in 1953.

Fans and detractors of "Beat the Devil" can probably agree: Huston's movie was more fun to make than it was to watch. The shoot never stopped stumbling. One night, Huston fell off a cliff, a 40-foot cliff, and somehow didn't hurt himself. Bogart messed up his teeth in a car accident.

The movie in progress became a party. Famous people dropped by for a few days, drank, made merry and left again. The young, unpaid clapper boy on the shoot was always playing piano when he could; his name was Stephen Sondheim. "He liked to tinkle away on the out-of-tune piano in the hotel," recalled script supervisor Angela Allen, years later. "I said, 'I think that young man is going to go a long way.' And everyone told me how stupid I was."

Like Orson Welles' "The Lady From Shanghai" a few years earlier, "Beat the Devil" bent and stretched audience expectations to the snapping point. This is why it works so weirdly well for some people today, especially in this 4k restoration.

"When I saw it this time," says the Film Center's associate programming director Martin Rubin, "I saw it very much as a postwar atomic age film. The world's a mess, it's all going to blow up, so anything goes. There's a playful nihilism in it. And it's so self-referential. The way these characters are trying to put together their uranium scheme is like Huston and Capote trying to put together 'Beat the Devil,' right there on the spot."

"Beat the Devil," June 30-July 5, Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.;



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