Research grant NIAS

•December 17, 2020 • Leave a Comment
La madre (Giuseppe Sterni, 1917). Collection EYE Filmmuseum.

Yesterday, I got the wonderful that my application to become Fellow of the prestigious Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) was honored, and this despite fierce competition (even more so than in previous years). This means I will get a teaching replacement subsidy for the time span between early September 2021 and late January 2022, enabling me to write the manuscript of my upcoming monograph on Italian silent cinema, within a cross-medial and transnational perspective. As my university doesn’t know official sabbaticals, this was the chance of lifetime (o.k., career time) to get leave for research and do something more substantial than an article or a book chapter. Italian silent cinema has been my specialism for decades, as expressed in numerous conference papers, workshops, network organizations, and publications. So after my two monographs Jean Desmet and the Early Dutch Film Trade (2003) and Reframing Luchino Visconti: Film and Art (2018), the publication of many single articles, and the editing of several special issues for the Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis (Journal for Media History), it is now time for my third monograph.

Lúcia Nagib & Ossessione

•December 7, 2020 • Leave a Comment
Massimo Girotti as Gino in Ossessione (Luchino Visconti, 1943)

Lúcia Nagib generously has put on Researchgate her entire new book Realist Cinema as World Cinema: Non-cinema, Intermedial Passages, Total Cinema (2020). This wonderful book includes a very intriguing and innovative chapter on Luchino Visconti’s film Ossessione (1943) in which she also makes extensive references to my book Reframing Luchino Visconti: Film and Art (2018), as well as my article on the film Tosca (Jean Renoir/ Carl Koch, 1939-1941), ‘Unaffectedness and Rare Eurythmics: Carl Koch, Jean Renoir, Luchino Visconti and the Production of Tosca (1939/41)’, in The Italianist, Vol. 37, 2, 2017, 149-175. Much obliged, and seriously recommended reading.

Review of Cinefest 2020

•November 24, 2020 • Leave a Comment
Cover of the catalog

Last Sunday we finished our cinefest Kino, Krieg und Tulpen. Deutsch-niederländische Filmbeziehungen(13-22 November), as well as our three-day (20-22 November) – intense but very gratifying – Zoom conference.

It’s almost a miracle we’ve managed to realize it all, despite corona. A few weeks ago, when Germany closed down all cinemas including the Hamburg Metropolis Kino, and international travel basically became impossible, we had to change overnight to an alternative version. As digitization at the EYE Filmmuseum is ahead of the German archives, and a group of 1930s Dutch films mostly made with collaboration of German migrant directors and crew members was available to be put online without rights problems, we were saved by the bell – apart from all the extra labor on speedy translations in English or German added to the films. See e.g. films with English subtitles such as Pygmalion (1937) by Ludwig Berger, Boefje (1939) by Douglas Sirk, or Dood Water (1934) by Gerard Rutten, or with German subtitles, De Kribbebijter (1935) by Henry Koster. We also filmed ourselves for short introductions, now available on the Cinefest website. And the good news is that most of these films will remain online, on EYE’s playlist on YouTube. In addition, EYE has also put online a nice selection of rare early German fiction and nonfiction films from EYE’s Desmet Collection, including exiting pursuits by Joseph Delmont for the company Eiko: either at the wastelands of Berlin [my guess], or through the streets, alleys, and canals of Rotterdam [which before the war was a canal town like Amsterdam]. Also memorable is Delmont’s trip to the archaic, picturesque village of Marken for his film Auf einsamer Insel (1913), for which even a local boat was bought and burned.

The Dutch 17th century according to the DEFA: Zar und Zimmermann (Hans Müller, 1956)

At the conference I gave a keynote on a panoramic overview of our conference program on the one hand, and a historiographic overview of research and publications on German-Dutch film relationships since the 1980s, with the 1982 manifestation and volume Berlin-Amsterdam 1920-1940 as key reference point. I was therefore most obliged the thriving force behind manifestation and book, Kathinka Dittrich, was present herself. All in all, we were in good company with avant-garde experts such as Thomas Tode and Anke Steinborn, film music expert Timur Sijaric, resistance films expert Tobias Temming, scholars bridging (aesthetic and gender) theory and history when researching Dutch documentary, we had socio-economic approaches of Dutch UFA-cinemas and German newsreels depicting the Netherlands, biographical portraits of actors, directors and producers, and so on. Among our attendees were respected scholars such as Tim Bergfelder, Jan-Christopher Horak, and Christian Rogowski, while panel leaders were e.g. Hans-Michael Bock, Andreas Thein, and last but not least Jan Distelmeyer, whose students had made the wonderful teaser and trailer for the festival and who were present too.

The wonderful, lavishly illustrated and well informed catalog can still be obtained for little money (see Cinefest website). It gives a hint about the original program we hope to show next Spring onsite at the Metropolis Kino in Hamburg.

Cover of the – voluminous – volume accompanying the manifestation
Berlin-Amsterdam 1920-1940 (1982).

Magnum opus on the history of German documentary now online

•September 10, 2020 • Leave a Comment
Poster for Die Nibelungen, Part I. Siegfried (Fritz Lang, 1924). Collection EYE Filmmuseum.

The three-part volume Geschichte des dokumentarischen Films in Deutschland 1895-1945 (Reclam Verlag, 2005), edited by Kay Hoffmann a.o., can now be consulted online on the site of the University of Marburg. It will also be available on the digital platforms http://www.dokumentarfilmgeschichte.de and http://www.dokumentarfilmforschung.de. Part 1 of the volume, edited by Martin Loiperdinger and Uli Jung, includes my article on espionage and propaganda in the Netherlands during the First World War: Exkurs: Spionage und Propaganda im Ersten Weltkrieg. Das Beispiel Niederlande. For the research for this article I owe a big thank you to Martin Loiperdinger. If you want to know what dragon slayer Siegfried has to do with a volume on documentary, please read my text. During WWI, German Intelligence predicted that Dutch audiences were rather susceptible to this kind of German imagery than to blunt nonfiction. Lang’s film would indeed be a huge Dutch success.

L’Innocente on Blu-ray

•July 14, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Innocente 01

L’innocente. The confrontation of the rivals, scene shot at Palazzo Colonna, Rome.                          Photo by Mario Tursi. Print from my own collection.

Film Movement Classics has recently released the first American Blu-ray of Luchino Visconti’s film L’innocente/ The Innocent (1976), starring Giancarlo Giannini, Laura Antonelli, and Jennifer O’Neill. One of the bonuses is a video essay with my voice over, based on my book Reframing Luchino Visconti: Film and Art (2018). If you want to know more about my book, see the book trailer, the publisher’s site, my earlier post on the Open Access version of the book, a blogpost I wrote for my department, and the general page on my Visconti research on this site.

Call for Papers: Conference on German-Dutch Film Relations (Nov. 2020)

•April 17, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Call for papers for our conference in November on Dutch-German film relationships: Cinema, War, and Tulips: German-Dutch Film Relations. 33rd International Film Historical Conference, 18 – 21 November 2020, Hamburg

https://www.cinefest.de/dat…/2020/CFP_cf20-Kongress_engl.pdf

See also https://www.cinefest.de/d/festival.php

Truus van Aalten als Volendamer Frau

Now online: Early Italian Comedy in International Perspective, and Where Can I Find Italian Silent Cinema?

•January 10, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Two of my articles can now be found online at my website: ‘All the Same or Strategies of Difference: Early Italian Comedy in International Perspective’, in: Giorgio Bertellini ed., Italian Silent Cinema. A Reader (New Barnet: John Libbey, 2013), pp. 171-184, and ‘Where Can I Find Italian Silent Cinema?’, in: Giorgio Bertellini ed., Italian Silent Cinema. A Reader (New Barnet: John Libbey, 2013), pp. 317-323. The first article, a reworked version of an earlier article, goes into the characterizations of and differences between a few typical comedians of early Italian cinema (Cretinetti, Polidor, Kri-Kri and Robinet), but also delves into the differences between slapstick and situational comedy (such as the Morano-Rodolfi comedies by Ambrosio), into (self-)reflexivity in Italian silent comedy, and into cross-national convergences and divergences, comparing Italian silent comedy with French and American counterparts (e.g. at Pathé, Gaumont and Vitagraph.  The second article gives a state of the art of the availability of Italian silent cinema either online, on disk (DVD etc.), or within the various film archives in and outside of Italy. It marks the growing international access online, even if much is still out of reach or can only be consulted ‘in situ’. The article well matches Luca Mazzei’s article in the same volume on the availability of paper sources. My online articles can also be found on academia.edu.

The online offer of my two articles perfectly matches EYE’s generous recent upload to its YouTube channel, From the Collection of EYE, of a large share of Italian silent comedy, mostly but note exclusively from the Desmet Collection. Such as Robinet, chauffeur miope (Ambrosio 1914), starring Marcel Fabre/ Marcel Pérez/Dandy:

‘Dal vero’ in Cluj. New presentation & research coming up

•October 21, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Santa Lucia

On Saturday 26 October, I will give a paper on the picturesque in Italian early travel films or ‘dal vero’ and their pedigree and historiography, within a panel on the Italian non-fiction film and the picturesque together with Luca Mazzei and Sila Berruti, and this again within the framework of the conference THE PICTURESQUE: Visual Pleasure and Intermediality in-between Contemporary Cinema, Art and Digital Culture, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 25-25 October. Last Summer I was fortunate to finally find the time to watch most of the 61 films on the very rich and thorough DVD Grand Tour Italiano by Andrea Meneghelli for the Cineteca di Bologna as well as early travel films online on various archival and public sites, plus some additional DVDs. I was also able to read Jennifer Peterson’s article in the volume Uncharted Territory (1997) and parts of her monograph Education in the School of Dreams (2013), as well as articles from the special issue (2014) on Italian early nonfiction of the journal Immagine. All this helped, me to get a better grip on Italian early nonfiction, after my own earlier – at times also cited – articles in the 1990s, such as one in the volume A Nuova Luce. The presentation in Cluj builds on a duo presentation I did with Luca Mazzei last December at the workshop A Dive into the Collections of the EYE Filmmuseum, co-organised by myself with Elif Rongen and Céline Gailleurd, and undertaken within the framework of the Franco-Dutch-Italian research project Le cinéma muet italien à la croisée des arts, I am looking forward to the debate with my panel and attendants to the panel in Cluj. Eventually, my research on Italian early travel film will turn into an article, as part of my future monograph on Italian early cinema and its transmedial relationships with the arts and popular culture.

Visconti in Open Access

•August 30, 2019 • 2 Comments

As of today, 30 August 2019, I offer the digital version of my book Reframing Luchino Visconti: Film and Art (Sidestone Press, 2018) in Open Access. You can download the pdf of the book here or order the paper version on the editor’s website.

As this is my birthday, this is my birthday present to the world. Enjoy!

cover Reframing jpg

 

Piero Tosi (1927-2019)

•August 10, 2019 • Leave a Comment

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Today, I read the news that Piero Tosi had died at the high age of 92 years. With his passing, an epoch disappears, I’d say. Others will surely write about Tosi’s paramount importance for film costume design, and I would fully agree. But Tosi also had an important part in my own life. When I started my MA thesis research on Luchino Visconti and visual arts decades ago, in 1983, Caterina D’Amico, daughter of Visconti’s regular screenwriter Suso Cecchi D’Amico but also the organizer of many exhibitions and publications on Visconti, told me I absolutely needed to see Tosi, in addition to Umberto Tirelli, Mario Chiari, Mario Garbuglia, Vera Marzot, Giuseppe Rotunno, Caterina’s mother, and others. So, when in 1984 I came to Rome to do my research, I met him, at the famous Caffé Greco. The interview was very important to me, as it showed how important the talent and expertise of Visconti’s collaborators had been, and how closely knit they contributed to Visconti’s films, of which we can say they were true Gesamtkunstwerke. After I had finished my Ph.D. in 2000 and published the commercial edition in 2003, I went back to my Visconti research, intended to renew, expand and reframe it. So in 2004, I was back in Rome, back at the Royal Dutch Institute (my temporary home for so many years of research). Apart from spitting through the Fondo Visconti at the Istituto Gramsci, I renewed my interviews, including ones with Rotunno, Garbuglia, Vera Marzot (Tosi’s assistant for e.g. Il Gattopardo), and with Tosi himself. This time we met at his elegant little apartment in Via Monte Brianzo, not far from Piazza Navona and filled with painting. Apart from deepening our discussion on Visconti’s films and visual art,  we also talked about the importance of photography, of Visconti’s professional rigor, Tosi’s own training, the Italian divas and Duse, and the preparation of the Proust Project. Afterward, we sometimes had telephone conversations on details. I learned Tosi was a goldmine of recollections, even if I also learned they were not always true.

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In 2006 I had the good fortune of having Piero Tosi and Caterina D’Amico as speakers at my symposium Visconti e le arti visive, held at the ballroom of Palazzo Visconti in Milan and co-organised with Federica Olivares. Tosi, who wasn’t a big traveler and simply refused flying, did a big effort to travel to Milan and attend the symposium, followed by a screening of Senso. He whispered me he was so excited to see Palazzo Visconti, as during the collaborations with Visconti he had never been there. He was also very happy with a booklet on the Italian divas, written by Angela Dalle Vache and produced by Olivares Edizioni. The morning after, in our hotel, we had a relaxing and humorous conversation, about his work, his background in Florence, but also about being a gay man in Rome back in the 1950s-1960s. From 2007, when I lived six months in Rome thanks to an award of the Dutch institute and worked on my book while also teaching a course on Rome in film, I met Tosi at times at the film academy of the Centro Sperimentale. Here he was teaching for decades, enjoying to be surrounded by bright young people and free of the stress of film production. One summer, we had an appointment after his teachings, but it was terribly hot. He still had taken the metro to Subaugusta to teach at the film academy, but he understandably had to shower first before talking. Afterward, we enjoyed the gelati I had brought.

The production of my book took many years, including rewrites, endless waiting for peer reviewers and editors, and finally changing publisher. In the meantime, on September 2017, I had in London a great conversation with costume designer Janty Yates, on occasion of the Alma-Tadema exhibition at the Leighton House in which I was involved and of her involvement in Ridley Scott’s epic Gladiator. Yates and I proved to have the same big admiration for Tosi’s work, so our talk went on for a long time. Also, by 2017 I knew that my book would be dedicated to Garbuglia, Rotunno, and Piero Tosi. On 20 March 2018, I had the first presentation of my book, of course in Rome and at the Royal Dutch Institute. Here Caterina D’Amico was officially handed the book, preceded by a round table with distinguished Roman scholars, and – despite stormy weather – with selected guests such as Mario Garbuglia’s daughter and family, Nicoletta Mannino (Visconti’s niece), Antonella Montesi (coordinator of the bibliovisconti project), Prof. Giovanni Spagnoletti, and others. The next day, I brought my book to Piero Tosi, accompanied by a giant bunch of tulips. Tosi by that time was getting blind and feeble, so we had a nice little chat and caffè. He was really impressed by the book but was sore his eyes were starting to abandon him. Typically Italian, he would call me by my last name: Caro Blom, he said when I left, come up and see me when you’re around in Rome if I am still there then. I haven’t been to Rome sinch March 2018, alas, so it was our last meeting. I also missed the exhibition on Tosi’s years at the Centro Sperimentale, Fall/Winter 2018 at the Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, but thanks to Caterina D’Amico I could enjoy the special issue of Bianco & Nero dedicated to Tosi.

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As an homage, after my last visit to Tosi on 21 March 2018, I went back to Caffé Greco, where it all began that 21 September 1984: “Signor Blom?” The circle was round.