The third presentation of the Italian Perspective series took place in the Musco Center for the Arts, on Saturday, April 7, this year focusing on the intersection between cinema and culture. This celebratory symposium, exploring the complexity of Italy’s cultural and artistic import, brought together faculty, staff and students from Chapman University and other local schools, as well as the broader local community of Southern California.
Cinema and Culture: An Italian Perspective was a unique opportunity to learn about the cultural significance and influence of Italian cinema throughout history. A group of distinguished scholars of Italian Studies guided the public through a fascinating journey beginning in silent cinema, continuing through the Italian post-war realist cinema, and the creative innovations of art cinema in the Sixties and Seventies.
Dr. John P. Welle, professor at the University of Notre Dame, traced the trajectory of cinema in an Italian context, from its origin to its “golden age” and peak of international success and artistic significance. The presentation showed the continuities between the magic lantern and early film production in Italy, highlighted the intersection between literary and cinematic production, and discussed successful strategies in early Italian film industry.
Dr. Giovanna Faleschini-Lerner, professor at Franklin & Marshall College, provided a insightful look at a number of masterpieces of Italian neorealism, clarifying how films that are deeply grounded in a precise moment of Italian history and in a specific Italian urban landscape, continue to remain relevant and inspirational today.
Dr. Thomas Harrison, professor at University of California Los Angeles, presented on the effect of the great “author cinema” of Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Sergio Leone from the 1960s and 1970s. The talk guided through an appreciation of the slowing down of thoughts, perceptions, and expectations of the audience, focusing attention on fine visual details, the construction of scenes, and indeed on the very nature and mystery of seeing.
The symposium was further enriched by montages created by Italian Studies and Film Production students on the themes of dance, song, kiss and spirituality.
Special thanks go out to Paul and Marybelle Musco, President Daniele Struppa, President Emeritus Jim Doti, Vicky Carabini, Joe Baird, our guest speakers, the members of the Italian Studies Council, Musco Center’s director Richard Bryant and his team, the staff of the IdeationLab, and Italian Studies faculty and students for making this event possible.