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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Cinematheque to Screen the Operatic Films of Luchino Visconti Next Year

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2018 at 2:35 PM

click to enlarge A scene from The Innocent. - COURTESY OF THE CIA CINEMATHEQUE
  • Courtesy of the CIA Cinematheque
  • A scene from The Innocent.
During November and December of last year, the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque presented digital restorations or 35mm prints of five films by the late Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti.

Since then, a complete Visconti retrospective put together by Istituto Luce Cinecittà in Rome has come to North America and is traveling to a variety of museums and cinematheques, including the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, where it'll land next year.

“I always wanted to show his films, but I realized that a lot of them are exceedingly long and that it’d be tough to cram them into a two-month calendar and still show other things too,” explains Cinematheque Director John Ewing. “After we showed those films last year, I got the Harvard Film Archives schedule and saw that this series that this outfit from Rome, a quasi-government agency, was bringing it back to the U.S. The Harvard Film Archives were doing the whole thing. I looked at the schedule and saw an opportunity for us to get us in and sent an email to Rome. We’re showing two of his best films, The Leopard and Death in Venice, which we did not show in the previous series. It came together nicely, and the timing was right.”

The Cinematheque will also screen The Stranger, Visconti’s film based upon the famous Albert Camus book.

The Stranger isn’t supposed to be one of his best films, but it’s been on my bucket list,” says Ewing. “It’s been nearly impossible to get. We had to get permission from the Camus estate. I thought that would be a sticking point, but lo and behold, we got it. The Film Archives at Berkeley had a sold-out screening of the movie, and they’re thinking of bringing it back. I don’t know how many places are showing it. To me, that was one of the ones that I was proudest to get.”

The retrospective includes important Visconti rarities that aren’t distributed in the U.S. as well as some of his most famous works. The eight films included in the series, dubbed Encore! The Operatic Films of Luchino Visconti, span the neorealist era, which Visconti helped to launch, and includes the “overstuffed, all-star, international co-productions” that flourished in Italy after WWII. The series kicks off on Jan. 4 with a screening of 1971’s Death in Venice and concludes on Feb. 23 with a screening of The Innocent, which is currently unavailable in the States.

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