Film Culture in Bologna: Italian Studies + Film and Media Arts

Once again, the Ferrucci Institute for Italian Experience and Research (Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) and the Film and Media Studies program (Dodge College of Film and Media Arts) joined efforts in the realization of a truly unique study abroad course in Bologna, Italy. Under the guidance of Dr. Emily Carman and Dr. Federico Pacchioni, a group of undergraduate and graduate students were exposed to a myriad of impactful screenings and talks offered by Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival.

The program featured conversations with emblematic directors such as Wim Wenders, Ruben Östlund, and Joe Dante and retrospectives on major expressions of Italian cinema, including the screenwriter Suso Cecchi d’Amico and the actress Anna Magnani, and various other examples of world cinema. Furthermore, students were introduced to Bologna’s cultural history and the local Cineteca research facilities, including a tour of Immagine Ritrovata, the world-renowned film restoration laboratory.

Restoration — as a 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. To many of them, the experience solidified an understanding of the universal power of film across ideological and national borders.

In the words of some of the students…

“Watching the open-air cinema at Piazza Maggiore was an unforgettable experience, where I witnessed the harmonious interaction of movies and life. It is magical to find a sense of belonging in the unfamiliar city of Bologna, as il Cinema Ritrovato renders this city pure, making these ten days a celebration of everything about movies.” – Tingyi Zhu

“The experience of watching this film surrounded by hundreds of people from all different walks of life is something that I will never forget. I found myself in awe of the film and music, but also the faces around me, completely immersed in the screening.” – Jovanna Vega

“Among Cinema Ritrovato’s most valuable offerings is the handful of 16mm screenings that expose the naive spectator to the celluloid splendor of analog conservation. There’s a certain purity and charm to the rolling projector and the crispness of each frame turning over to the next, the luminous flow of light tumbling forward toward the screen.” – Blake Stachel

“Despite language barriers or cultural differences, it warmed my heart to see people of many ages together and collectively enjoy the movie-going experience. My time here in Bologna has been both fascinating and eye-opening.” – Alesia Orta

“It is incredibly inspirational to see how ingrained cinema is in the fabric of the city of Bologna. There is no better example of this than the screenings in the Piazza Maggiore. Watching a film outdoors with thousands of locals is an amazing and beautiful experience.” – Nick Fratarcangelo

“The audience was clearly international, creating a large language barrier between everyone, and yet, somehow, we all felt connected. Something I’ve learned on this trip is how we can share a universal language of expression and lower the language barrier by lowering our guard.” – Matisse Kellner



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