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Über dieses Buch

Featuring essays by top scholars and interviews with acclaimed directors, this book examines Italian women's authorship in film and their visions of reality. The contributors use feminist film criticism in the analysis of their works and give direct voices to the artists who are constantly excluded by the conventional Italian film criticism.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

Introduction

Abstract
The idea for this book began to develop a long time ago. After much consideration, I discussed the project with cinema scholars and several colleagues who work primarily on Italian film studies. The response produced by our conversations was unmistakably similar: “Are you sure you have enough material for a book? Besides Wertmüller and Cavani, who else is there to fill up a book of essays about women filmmakers?” These questions left me with the urge to respond. Despite the fact that those I consulted were knowledgeable and possessed considerable expertise, they were unaware of the wealth of material available to explore. Clearly, a widespread lack of visibility of women filmmakers exists, even to experts in the field. Thus, development of such a volume of essays became all the more necessary in order to promote the criticism I hope it will encourage.
Maristella Cantini

Part I

Frontmatter

1. Napoli Terra d’Amore

The Eye on the Screen of Elvira Notari
Abstract
When talking about women in the history of cinema, it is a must to remember the first Italian woman filmmaker—Elvira Notari.2 In order to understand how groundbreaking her work is, we have to take a look at the historical time frame and the social context in which this artist lived and created her peculiar filming and directing style.3
Chiara Ricci

2. Grotesque Bodies, Fragmented Selves

Lina Wertmüller’s Women in Love and Anarchy (1973)
Abstract
Lina Wertmüller’s now classic 1970s films might seem the quintessential incarnation of feminist Claire Johnston’s call for a women’s political countercinema operating within the codes of the traditionally patriarchal entertainment film.1 The Italian filmmaker has in fact repeatedly proclaimed her lifelong love affair with popular cinema. “My greatest desire is to make popular cinema,” Wertmüller states in a 1976 interview with Paul McIsaac and Gina Blumenfeld,2 while a year later, in a conversation with Gideon Bachmann, she specifies, “I have made a decision for popular work because I have chosen a form that should reach as far as possible.”3 Simultaneously, her films of the time—Love and Anarchy, Swept Away, and Seven Beauties in particular—deal with issues dear to feminism, such as women’s social roles, and rights and gender power relations.
Claudia Consolati

3. Don’t Bring a Gun to a Fistfight

Deconstructing Hegemonic Masculinity through the Gun in Lina Wertmüller’s Pasqualino Settebellezze
Abstract
When Lina Wertmüller’s satirical comedies made their appearances in American movie theaters in the 1970s, critics and audiences alike were strongly divided (Bullaro 2006; Wertmüller 2006; Masucci 2009).1 The reception of Pasqualino Settebellezze was particularly controversial: on the one hand, it won the hearts of many and even earned the director four Academy Award nominations, one of which was for best director—an impressive recognition making Wertmüller the first woman to ever be nominated for such a prestigious category.2 Yet the film generated a profound disdain among those who were intolerant of the idea that the atrocities of concentration camps should be so seamlessly woven into the fabric of a filmic genre that accommodated elements of slapstick comedy.3 The concern was that in pairing humor with horror, the film deemphasized the tragedy of the Holocaust and diminished the historical significance of the individual’s plight and the all-too-often unsuccessful quest for survival. The extreme response American critics had to Pasqualino Settebellezze can be attributed to a cultural misunderstanding of Italy’s comedic genre. Scholars such as William and Joan Magretta recognized in this controversial coupling a carnivalesque tradition firmly rooted in the Commedia dell’arte (Magretta and Magretta 1979).4
Lidia Hwa Soon Anchisi Hopkins, Luke Cuculis

4. Adventurous Identities

Cavani’s Thematic Imaginary
Abstract
Film is a medium that invites the spectator to imagine altered states: we sit in the dark and see shadows move across a screen, flesh and blood actors altered into phantoms. Sometimes this is thematized, as in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, where Kim Novak first alters herself, then is altered to look like and then become Judy. Cross-dressing comedies like Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot and Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie keep play with altered states of gender. Or we can think more directly of Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980), in which a Harvard scientist researching different states of consciousness conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug that causes him to regress genetically. Altered states of consciousness can be associated with artistic creativity, with the ingestion of psychoactive drugs, or it can be achieved by means of sensory deprivation, meditation, fasting, or prayer (Mantra meditation, Yoga, etc.), all of which can put the individual in contact with a transcendental reality or divine presence. But, the most profound secular experience of altered states occurs in consciousness and it is in this realm that the cinema of Liliana Cavani excels.
Gaetana Marrone

5. Healing the Daughter’s Body in Francesca Archibugi’s Il Grande Cocomero

Abstract
In this essay, I explore the connection between women’s mental health and gender violence within the Italian family through the analysis of a destructive mother-daughter relationship and the resulting transgenerational transmission of psychological problems that allow, from a female perspective, gender discrimination to perpetuate. With this intent, I discuss the story of domestic violence as portrayed by director Francesca Archibugi in her 1993 film Il grande cocomero (The Great Pumpkin), interpreting it as a case of Münchausen Syndrome by proxy (a form of child abuse), whose origins lie in the mother’s conformity to misogynistic sociocultural norms. I therefore perceive the mother’s mental disorder not as the result of a decontextualized individual pathology, but from a feminist perspective, regarding it as a symptom of a collective problem, caused by the unequal way in which relationships between genders are structured in a patriarchal society.
Daniela De Pau

6. Motherhood Revisited in Francesca Comencini’s Lo Spazio Bianco

Abstract
An accomplished director from a well-known family of filmmakers, Francesca Comencini is also an outspoken critic of the misrepresentation of women in the Italian media, and of right-wing legislative interventions regulating women’s sexuality and reproductive rights.1 For example, Comencini is one of the founding members of Se non ora quando (SNOQ), an organization created in 2011 by a diverse group of activists to protest against the attack on women’s dignity and self-determination in Italian society.2 The creation of SNOQ and the spreading of similar protests throughout Italy in the past decade are evidence of the growing societal discontent for the degraded state of gender relations, and for the state’s attempt to control women’s reproductive choices.3 According to the founders of SNOQ, the representation of women as “naked objects of sexual exchange that is offered by newspapers, television, and advertising” (nudo oggetto di scambio sessuale, offerta da giornali, televisioni, pubblicità) erases the many past and present contributions of women to Italian society. Furthermore, they explain: “This mentality and the behaviors that originate from it are polluting our social interactions. The gender relations model flaunted by one of our top government officials deeply affects our lifestyle and national culture, legitimating behaviors that harm the dignity of women and of the institutions” (Questa mentalità e i comportamenti che ne derivano stanno inquinando la convivenza sociale […].
Claudia Karagoz

7. Women in the Deserted City

Urban Space in Marina Spada’s Cinema
Abstract
During the last two decades in Italy, a new generation of women filmmakers has established its own space in the traditionally male-dominated film industry. This burgeoning group represents and positions female subjectivity in new and complex ways, specifically in urban contexts, which act not merely as background for filmed events but also as “objects of exploration, investigation and interpretation, settings for voyages of discovery.”2 Filmmakers such as Marina Spada, Francesca Comencini, Antonietta De Lillo, Roberta Torre, Nina Di Majo, Wilma Labate, Paola Randi, and Alice Rohrwacher have taken Italian cities like Milan, Rome, Naples, and Reggio Calabria, which are already part of the global cinematic imagination, and transformed them into subjects that serve to generate the narration of their films.
Laura Di Bianco

8. Envisioning Our Mother’s Face

Reading Alina Marazzi’s Un’ora sola ti vorrei and Vogliamo anche le rose
Abstract
Alina Marazzi occupies a very special place in the history of Italian women filmmakers for her experimental style and feminist approach.1 By using found footage and home movies Alina Marazzi questions the Western representation of the “Woman” and re-visions real women’s complex interior landscapes. She pays particular attention to motherhood (either realized or unfulfilled) as a problematic condition of identity and investigates the crucial role of the mother-daughter relationship. Marazzi’s trilogy Un’ora sola ti vorrei (2002), Vogliamo anche le rose (2007), and Tutto parla di te (2012) explores the sense of displacement, failure, and inadequacy women face whether they choose to perform traditional social roles or to reject the socially validated idea of happiness. Marazzi’s work also reflects on the difficulties for women in struggling for freedom and self-fulfillment in an oppressive society.
Cristina Gamberi

9. Alina Marazzi’s Women

A Director in Search of Herself through a Female Genealogy
Abstract
Film scholars discuss the inception of New-New Italian Film in La Meglio Gioventù. Nuovo Cinema Italiano 2000–2006 (Zagarrio 2006: 11), and identify a mixed generation of directors and producers engaged in the creation of a “cinema diverso” (different cinema) for the new millennium (12). Scholars attribute this new generation with introducing innovation into Italian cinema through their experimentation with cinematic techniques, narrative strategies, and intelligent, but less direct social critique, to generate original national cinema. Commenting on the definition New-New Italian Film in his essay entitled “Certi bambini … I nuovi cineasti italiani” (Certain children … the new Italian filmmakers), Vito Zagarrio chose the expression “la meglio gioventù” (the best of youth), borrowing the title of Marco Tullio Giordana’s film to describe this new wave of filmmakers to mark the separation of this group from previous generations and to further emphasize their unconventional creativity.1 There are both famous and unknown names included among the most influential new directors that the scholars consider to be innovators since the originality of their stories and cinematic techniques is what counts: Paolo Sorrentino, Alina Marazzi, Paolo Franchi, Matteo Garrone, Luca Lucini, Alex Infascelli, Andrea and Antonio Frazzi, and Piergiorgio Gay.
Fabiana Cecchini

10. Angela/o and the Gender Disruption of Masculine Society in Purple Sea

Abstract
Purple Sea (2009),1 directed by Donatella Maiorca, is one of only a few Italian films that deal directly with the theme of lesbianism, and Maiorca’s representation of the relationship between the two main characters, Angela (Valeria Solarino) and Sara (Isabella Ragonese), establishes the film as a forerunner in this field.2 Indeed, the struggle to realize this love story is not an incidental or secondary motif of the film, but the central one. Inspired by Giacomo Pilati’s novel Minchia di Re (2004), in the transition from the written word to visual images, the film puts more emphasis on the “irregular” love between the two girls, while the book focuses exclusively on the protagonist and her life as a female husband and cross-dressing woman, independent of the lesbian relationship. The latter, therefore, adopts more the feature of abildungsroman, narrating the life of the protagonist beyond the marriage and ending with her death, where the former is based on the specific struggle of the two girls to realize their relationship in spite of the patriarchal society to which they are subjected. The difference—here only quickly mentioned—between the book and the film underlines the clash and the disruption represented by the story of Angela within the patriarchal society as it is figured in Maiorca’s work. As a matter of fact, the film plot developed alongside the love story discloses specific attention to gender relationships and their connection to the exercise of power, broadening the issue from the historical time in which the narration is set (the end of nineteenth century) to the contemporary age, and spatially from a little village on the island of Favignana, Sicily, to the wider Italian society.
Anita Virga

11. Ilaria Borrelli

Cinema and Postfeminism
Abstract
Ilaria Borrelli was born in Naples, Italy, in 1968. She is a writer, actress, scriptwriter, director, and producer. She has performed in movies, plays, and in French and Italian TV series. Between 1999 and 2007, Borrelli published four novels, Scosse, Luccattmì, Domani si Gira, and Tanto Rumore per Tullia, for which she received critical acclaim and several prestigious literary prizes. After discovering Borrelli’s novels, I became interested in her movies.
Maristella Cantini

Part II

Frontmatter

12. Skype Interview with Alina Marazzi

June 2012
Without Abstract
Cristina Gamberi

13. Interview with Marina Spada

Milan, June 2012
Abstract
Marina Spada was born in Milan, where she still lives. She graduated with a music history degree from the University of Milan and the Dramatic Arts School of Piccolo Teatro. She started her career in filmmaking during the 1970s, collaborating with RAI Television, and in 1984 she worked as an assistant to Roberto Benigni and Massimo Troisi on the film Non ci resta che piangere (Nothing Left to Do but Cry). During the 1980s she directed many commercials and documentary films. Since 1993, she has been teaching film production and direction at the School of Cinema of Milan, while writing and directing many video portraits of Italian artists such as Pietro Lingeri, Fernanda Pivano, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Francesco Leonetti, Gabriele Basilico, and Mimmo Jodice. In 2000, she self-produced her first feature film, Forza cani (Come on Dogs!). In 2006, her second film, Come l’ombra As the Shadow also partially self-produced, was distributed by Kairos Film and presented at the Venice Film Festival and other international festivals, winning numerous awards. In 2009 Spada shot Poesia che mi guardi (Poetry You See Me), a documentary about the Italian poet Antonia Pozzi. Her fourth movie, Il mio domani (My Tomorrow), was released in 2011. It was well received at both the International Film Festival of Rome and Lincoln Center’s Italian Film Festival “Open Roads” in New York City.
Laura Di Bianco

14. Interview with Alice Rohrwacher

Rome, June 2012
Abstract
Of all the young filmmakers to debut in Italy during the first decade of the new millennium, Alice Rohrwacher is one of the most sophisticated and interesting auteurs to come to the attention of film critics and audiences. After earning her degree in philosophy and practicing painting and photography, she began directing documentary films. Thanks to the support of the newly born film production company Tempesta, she wrote and directed her first feature, Corpo celeste (Heavenly Body).
Laura Di Bianco

15. Interview with Paola Randi

Rome, June 2012
Abstract
Paola Randi is an emerging filmmaker; she was born in Milan and lives in Rome. After experimenting with art forms such as painting, theater, and music, she started her career in filmmaking, self-producing numerous short films. In 2011, her first feature, Into Paradiso, was shown in many international film festivals throughout Europe and North and South America, including the Venice Film Festival, where it was presented in the category “Controcampo Italiano.” Into Paradiso has been praised by critics and audiences alike, and its many accolades include being one of Nanni Moretti’s “Bimbi belli” (an honor Moretti created for debut filmmakers), as well as receiving four nominations for the David of Donatello prize.
Laura Di Bianco

16. Interview with Costanza Quatriglio

July 2012
Abstract
Costanza Quatriglio was born in Palermo in 1973. After having graduated in Law at the University of Palermo in 1997, she attended the Centro Sperimentale per la Cinematografia in Rome. Between 1997 and 2000, she directed several social documentaries. Her first documentary ècosaimale?, shot among children in historical Palermo, won several awards (among these the Gran Premio della Giuria at the Festival of Turin 2000). Her second documentary, L’insonnia di Devi, on the theme of international adoptions, was coproduced by Tele+. Her first feature film L’isola, produced by Dream Film and RAI TV network, was shown at the Festival of Cannes 2003 and distributed in Italy, Belgium, Canada, and Latin America. Well received by the public and the critics, L’isola has participated in many international festivals in the United States and Europe, earning the Fipresci Award at the Festival of Bratislava, the Cicae Award in France, the award for best screenplay at the Festival of Cuenca, in Ecuador, the Cultural Grant from Asia-Europe Foundation at the Festival of Pusan in South Korea, and the Silver Ribbon for best music in 2004. In this fiction film Costanza Quatriglio tells the story of the two young protagonists, Teresa and Turi, living the challenges of a closed society like Favignana. The following year, her mini-series Raiz, which follows a family that migrated from Capo Verde to Italy, was broadcasted on RAI Tre.
Giovanna Summerfield

Backmatter

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