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Days of Glory: Revisiting Italian Neorealism

October 1, 2010 - December 12, 2010

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Bitter Rice, October 22, November 13

We present the second installment of a major series that examines the films from the Italian neorealism movement, including many films that have not been seen for years, due to a lack of quality prints or DVD availability. This series brings many of these classics back to the Bay Area with rare, imported 35mm prints.

Born out of the ruins of World War II, the neorealist movement’s first rallying cry came from screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, who called for a new kind of Italian film, one with no need for plots (which attempted to impose “order” on an already lived-in reality) or professional actors. Instead, it would take to the streets and hills to document the true lives, sorrows, and pleasures of the Italian people. Filmmakers like Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, Alberto Lattuada, Giuseppe de Santis, and others would soon act on his words, that “the cinema . . . should accept, unconditionally, what is contemporary. Today, today, today.”—

Jason Sanders
Associate Film Notes Writer

Friday, October 1, 2010
7:00 p.m. La Terra Trema
Luchino Visconti (Italy, 1948). Following the struggles of impoverished Sicilian fisherfolk, Visconti “makes compositions of the most down-to-earth reality as if they were scenes from an opera or a classical tragedy.”—André Bazin. Repeated on October 30. (155 mins)

Saturday, October 2, 2010
6:30 p.m. Teresa Venerdi
Vittorio De Sica (Italy, 1941). A rare chance to see De Sica as not only director, but star; he plays a Cary Grant-like doctor on the make with nurses, patients, and showgirls, including a radiant Anna Magnani. “A romantic screwball comedy of the first rank.”—New York Times (94 mins)

Sunday, October 3, 2010
4:00 p.m. Paisan
Roberto Rossellini (Italy, 1946). A six-episode, semi-documentary portrait of wartime Italy, stretching from Sicily during the Allied Invasion to the Po Valley near war’s end. “One of the strongest anti-war films ever made.”—New York Times (124 mins)

Friday, October 8, 2010
7:00 p.m. Shoeshine
Vittorio De Sica (Italy, 1946). Two young shoeshine boys become enmeshed in the black market in De Sica’s powerful moral fable. “One of the finest films I have ever seen.”—Alfred Hitchcock (93 mins)

Friday, October 8, 2010
8:50 p.m. Days of Glory
Luchino Visconti, Marcello Pagliero, Giuseppe De Santis, Mario Serandrei (Italy, 1945). Rarely seen outside of Italy, this extremely important work was the first documentary on the German occupation of Rome, and depicts various key episodes in the work of the Italian Resistance from September 1943 until the liberation of the North in the spring of 1945. (70 mins)

Sunday, October 10, 2010
4:00 p.m. Under the Sun of Rome
Renato Castellani (Italy, 1947). Life in Rome’s crowded San Giovanni district, as seen through the daily struggles of a group of adolescents. A highlight of the recent Bologna film festival. (104 mins)

Friday, October 15, 2010
7:00 p.m. Bellissima
Luchino Visconti (Italy, 1953). Visconti is in an unusually comic mode for this satire on urban life and movieland ambition. The incomparable Anna Magnani plays a mother trying to launch her young daughter in show business. (114 mins)

Friday, October 15, 2010
9:10 p.m. Miracle in Milan
Vittorio De Sica (Italy, 1951). An abandoned child helps a group of hobos save their shantytown from crooked landlords in De Sica’s magical fable. “Accents the positive ideal of human brotherhood in a warm, exhilarating, richly comic picture . . . recalls the best of Charlie Chaplin and Rene Clair.”—Time Magazine. Repeated on October 31. (95 mins)

Friday, October 22, 2010
7:00 p.m. The Bicycle Thief
Vittorio De Sica (Italy, 1948). De Sica’s masterpiece of a father and son looking for their stolen bicycle is considered one of the greatest films ever made. “An allegory at once timeless and topical.”—Village Voice. Repeated on October 23. (93 mins)

Friday, October 22, 2010
9:00 p.m. Bitter Rice
Giuseppe De Santis (Italy, 1949). This little-seen postwar gem filters a neorealist call for workers’ rights through the aesthetics of film noir. Vittorio Gassman is a thief whose girlfriend hides out with itinerant rice workers, and becomes awakened to the workers’ plight. Repeated on November 13. (109 mins)

Saturday, October 23, 2010
6:30 p.m. The Bicycle Thief
Please see Friday, October 22.

Friday, October 29, 2010
7:00 p.m. Chronicle of Poor Lovers
Carlo Lizzani (Italy, 1954). Marcello Mastroianni costars in this moving portrayal of an Italian town torn between Communists and Fascists in 1925. Nearly banned in Italy, it won the Special Jury Award ath the 1954 Cannes Film Festival. (108 mins)

Saturday, October 30, 2010
7:00 p.m. La Terra Trema
Please see Friday, October 1.

Sunday, October 31, 2010
4:00 p.m. Miracle in Milan
Please see Friday, October 15.

Thursday, November 4, 2010
7:00 p.m. Ossessione
Luchino Visconti (Italy, 1943). With a deft mixture of authenticity, narrative suspense, and ambiguous passions, Visconti transposes James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice to a Po Valley trattoria. “An extraordinarily majestic, elegant, and romantic movie.”—Vincent Canby, New York Times (140 mins)

Saturday, November 6, 2010
6:30 p.m. Without Pity
Alberto Lattuada (Italy, 1948). American G.I.’s, mobsters, and civilians tangle in the ruins of Livorno in this energetic, noirish tale of postwar Italy, anchored by a love affair between an Italian woman and an African American soldier. Written by Federico Fellini and starring Giulietta Masina. (95 mins)

Saturday, November 6, 2010
8:30 p.m. The Overcoat
Alberto Lattuada (Italy, 1952). A petty clerk dreams of a fancy new overcoat in Lattuada’s brisk adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s famed short story, reset in the suitably corrupt and hopeless hallways of Italian government bureaucracies. Starring Renato Rascel, one of postwar Italy’s most popular comics. (99 mins)

Saturday, November 13, 2010
6:15 p.m. Bitter Rice
Please see Friday, October 22.

Friday, November 26, 2010
5:30 p.m. Accattone
Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy, 1961). Pasolini’s famous debut film, a hard-edged and lyrical tragedy set in the Dantean slums of Rome. “Incandescent.”—New York Times. Repeated on Friday, December 10. (120 mins)

Sunday, November 28, 2010
3:00 p.m. Sunday in August
Luciano Emmer (Italy, 1950). A day at a Roman beach, where poor and rich, young and old, and loved and lovelorn meet (and avoid) each other. Featuring Marcello Mastroianni in an early role. “Unpretentious, funny, and imbued with passion.”—Guardian (88 mins)

Sunday, December 5, 2010
3:00 p.m. Voyage in Italy
Roberto Rossellini (Italy/France, 1953). George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman are a married couple in crisis in Rossellini’s fascinating, groundbreaking film, long acclaimed as the key link between Italian neorealism and the modernist, subjective cinema to come. “With the appearance of Voyage in Italy, all other films immediately grew ten years older.”—Jacques Rivette (85 mins)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
7:00 p.m. Il grido
Michelangelo Antonioni (Italy/U.S., 1957). “A stripped-down existential drama . . . an angry working man wanders impulsively through a world that has no place for him. Pervasive mist, fluid compositions, and melancholy piano add to the disorientation.”—Village Voice. With short People of the Po Valley. (125 mins)

Friday, December 10, 2010
8:45 p.m. Accattone
Please see Friday, November 26.

Sunday, December 12, 2010
3:00 p.m. Bandits of Orgosolo
Vittorio De Seta (Italy, 1961). In the remote Sardinian countryside, a simple shepherd, wrongly associated with bandits, must flee across the forbidding mountains. “Visual, original, poignant, and intelligent.”—New York Times (98 mins)

Series curated by Susan Oxtoby. PFA wishes to thank the following individuals and institutions for their assistance with this retrospective: Camilla Cormanni and Rosaria Focarelli, Cinecittà Luce S.p.A.; Amelia Carpenito Antonucci, Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco; Laura Argento, Cineteca Nazionale; Richard Peña and Isa Cucinotta, the Film Society of Lincoln Center.