Film history comes alive in Bologna: a new collaboration between Italian Studies and the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

The Italian Studies program (Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) and the Film and Media Studies program (Dodge College of Film and Media Arts) joined efforts to develop a unique educational experience in Bologna, Italy, a travel course that will become a staple of both programs and Chapman University in the future.

Under the guidance of Dr. Emily Carman and Dr. Federico Pacchioni, a group of undergraduate and graduate students collaborated this summer with the myriad of archival and unique screenings and symposia offered by the Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival and were introduced to Bologna’s cultural history and the local Cineteca research facilities.

The program featured conversations with emblematic actors of the golden age of Italian cinema, such as Stefania Sandrelli; with Italian and American filmmakers such as Gianni Amelio (director of Lamerica), Alice Rorhwacher (Le meraviglie), John Landis (Blues Brothers), Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch); screenings in the Piazza Maggiore accompanied by Bologna’s Orchestra del Teatro; visit of the exhibit Folgorazioni Figurative dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s centennial; and tours of Immagine Ritrovata, the world-renowned film restoration laboratory.

Restoration — as cultural issue and technical practice — is indeed at the heart of this course and is understood within a broader and interdisciplinary discussion about the preservation and evolution of western heritage and canon in today’s globalized community. Drawing from their subjective experiences and the wide-ranging resources of Bologna and its libraries, students developed a portfolio of critical writings probing into the theme of cinematic and cultural heritage.

In the words of some of the students…

“Nowhere else have I felt the amount of love and passion for film as I have here. Hearing industry members speak passionately about the films that were screened at the festival, and getting the chance to speak to some directly has made me even more excited about being a part of the film community, now and going forward.” — Afra Nariman

“As a producing student, I often focused more on the technical and business aspects of film. This course reminded me of the beauty and importance of cinema in documenting and shaping the narrative in both global geopolitical situations and the human experience.” — Nishaad Trivedi

“Getting to come to Italy and be immersed in the culture through the art of cinema has been really inspiring and impactful for my own art. Bologna is truly a wonderful city and I feel so lucky to have been able to see it and embrace all the things it has to offer.”
—Lauren Moyle

“The Il Cinema Ritrovato festival is extremely well-suited for anyone who takes the theater-going experience very seriously and is interested in (world) film history and restoration. This was a phenomenal opportunity to not only engage with the amazing films the festival offers back to back, but also to explore the Italian culture and history that surrounds you and is interwoven with the passions of the festival itself.” — Austin Kang

“Walking through the city of Bologna was like walking through the history of a great civilization; viewing the various films of the Cinema Ritrovato festival was like taking a look into the lives of the people of those times and the culture and stories that formed them.” — Sofie Kassaras

“The most meaningful aspect of this course in Bologna would have to be the opportunity to experience the fusion of Italian culture and cinema simultaneously. Attending Il Cinema Ritrovato has encouraged me to expand my horizons and delve deeper into new genres, eras, and cultural impacts of film movements. The incredible films and extensive historical background of the city have made this course one that I will not forget!” —Mia McGarity

A film screening in Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

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