The Film Society of Lincoln Center Pays Homage to Ermanno Olmi Following Open Roads
Following the 2019 edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, which will run June 6 -12, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Istituto Luce Cinecittà will present a retrospective dedicated to the work of director Ermanno Olmi. The lineup will include films from his career that spanned more than six decades.
"Updating the stylistic hallmarks of Italian neorealism to craft fiction films full of light and dignity, Olmi time and again captured the experience of work and family and expressed the churn of history with humor and grace. Known for his commitment to working with nonprofessional actors and to capturing the specific textures of the locations in which he filmed, Olmi, who started out as a self-taught documentarian, drew inspiration from his Catholic faith and from the social and cultural preoccupations of his native Lombardy region—personified by peasants in rural farming communities or by white-collar workers in the provincial capital of Milan. But Olmi, who passed away last year at age 86, was also always concerned with the political and economic systems underlying the social and physical environments in which his characters lived and dreamed. Join the Film Society and the Istituto Luce Cinecittà in paying homage to this singular and sophisticated voice in Italian cinema, whose influence can be seen today in the work of such major directors as Alice Rohrwacher and Pietro Marcello." -www.filmlinc.org
Below are the complete lineup of the Olmi retrospective and the 2019 edition of Open Roads.
Piranhas / La paranza dei bambini Claudio Giovannesi, Italy, 2019, 112m Italian with English subtitles Claudio Giovannesi (Fiore) returns to Open Roads with this singular coming-of-age story that won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the Berlin Film Festival. Newcomer Francesco Di Napoli stars as 15-year-old Nicola, who leads a pack of cocksure hellions captivated by the lifestyle of the local Camorra as they descend into the violent, paranoid world of Naples¹s dominant crime group. Based on the novel by Roberto Saviano, who co-wrote the screenplay and mined similar territory in his devastating Gomorrah, Piranhas is a haunting reflection on doomed adolescence. A Music Box Films release. Thursday, June 6, 6:00pm (Q&A with Claudio Giovannesi) Wednesday, June 12, 9:15pm Capri-Revolution Mario Martone, France/Italy, 2018, 122m English and Italian, Neapolitan, French, German, and Russian with English subtitles The stirring period drama from veteran director Mario Martone centers on Lucia (Marianna Fontana), a young goatherd living on Capri in 1914, when Europe is on the precipice of World War I. Also on the island is a commune of free-spirited, politically radical Northern European artists and intellectuals who have retreated to the lush Mediterranean idyll to put their fledgling ideologies into practice. Chafing at the traditions of her native community, Lucia finds herself drawn to the commune and its idealistic leader‹but soon she must reckon with the vast tides of cultural and political change. Sunday, June 9, 6:00pm (Q&A with Mario Martone and screenwriter Ippolita Di Majo) La Commare Secca Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy, 1962, 35mm, 88m Italian with English subtitles Bernardo Bertolucci made an auspicious filmmaking debut at 21 with this savvy, meticulous murder mystery adapted from a short story by Pier Paolo Pasolini. When the corpse of a prostitute is discovered near a public park, the police attempt to reconstruct the story of the woman¹s death from the recollections of standersby brought in for questioning, presented in flashback sequences. This formally audacious meditation on memory, contingency, and the elusive implications of ³realism² marks a fitting introduction to the Italian master, who passed away in November at the age of 77. 35mm print courtesy of Istituto Luce Cinecitta Tuesday, June 11, 6:00pm Dafne Federico Bondi, Italy, 2019, 94m Italian with English subtitles North American Premiere Dafne (Carolina Raspanti), a young woman with Down syndrome, leads a quiet family life that is upended by the sudden death of her mother. Both Dafne and her father, Luigi (Antonio Piovanelli), struggle to support each other as they differently process this loss: Luigi withdraws into depression, while Dafne gravitates toward greater responsibility at work and at home. Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize in this year¹s Berlin Film Festival Panorama, Federico Bondi¹s understated sophomore feature gently reorients their mourning into a tender story of perseverance, awash in rich everyday detail and anchored by a magnetic breakout performance by Raspanti. Friday, June 7, 3:30pm (Q&A with Federico Bondi) The Disappearance of My Mother / Storia di B. - La scomparsa di mia madre Beniamino Barrese, Italy, 2019, 94m English and Italian with English subtitles In his directorial debut, cinematographer Beniamino Barrese weaves together new and archival footage spanning decades and continents to craft an intimate, vignette-like documentary portrait of his mother, the renowned Italian model, activist, and feminist educator Benedetta Barzini. Taking this formidable woman as its protagonist, the film adopts an inquisitive stance, delving into her personal and professional history and probing her present-day reality with a son¹s affectionate persistence, and ultimately opens up into an exploration of such vast and timeless themes as beauty, womanhood, aging, and image-making, while simultaneously engaging in deeply personal contemplation of the relationship between a mother and her son, and between an artist and his subject. A Kino Lorber release in association with Breaker. Monday, June 10, 6:00pm (Q&A with Beniamino Barrese and Benedetta Barzini) Euphoria / Euforia Valeria Golino, Italy, 2018, 120m Italian with English subtitles Acclaimed leading men Riccardo Scamarcio and Valerio Mastandrea play Matteo and Ettore, two adult brothers living drastically different lives, in actor-director Valeria Golino¹s quietly wrenching new drama. When Ettore, a public-school teacher and father of modest means, is diagnosed with an illness, he goes to stay with cosmopolitan Matteo in his sprawling Roman bachelor pad, and Matteo takes charge of overseeing his brother¹s medical care. Between appointments with doctors and visits from Ettore¹s wife (Isabella Ferrari) and his mistress (Jasmine Trinca), the brothers reckon with long-unresolved tensions and unspoken resentments, and face the implications of Ettore¹s failing health, against the thrumming backdrop of the sunny Roman cityscape. Premiered in the 2018 Cannes Un Certain Regard. Saturday, June 8, 6:00pm (Q&A with Valerio Mastandrea) Wednesday, June 12, 2:00pm If Life Gives You Lemons / Un giorno all¹improvviso Ciro D¹Emilio, Italy, 2018, 88m Italian with English subtitles Abandoned by his father and left alone to care for his mentally ill mother, 17-year-old high-school dropout Antonio (Giampiero De Concilio) has had to grow up fast, navigating the complexities of the adult world while trying to hold onto what¹s left of a normal teenage life. When he¹s scouted by a professional soccer team, it seems like the break he¹s been waiting for‹but a series of calamitous personal crises threaten to derail his dreams. Anchored by a compelling lead performance from its up-and-coming star, this achingly naturalistic coming-of-age drama vividly evokes the world of a young man striving to succeed in the face of overwhelming odds. Saturday, June 8, 3:30pm (Q&A with Ciro D¹Emilio) Laughing / Ride Valerio Mastandrea, Italy, 2018, 90m Italian with English subtitles North American premiere After a young man dies in a controversial workplace accident, those who loved him grapple with what it means to go on living: his widow, seemingly unable to cry, questions why she feels so numb; his son sublimates the trauma by rigorously preparing for the media frenzy that will accompany the funeral; his father, haunted by his inability to prevent the tragedy, wrestles with survivor¹s guilt. Punctuated by disarming humor and flashes of poetic realism, the feature debut from acclaimed actor Valerio Mastandrea is a powerfully cathartic exploration of the myriad ways we grieve, cope, and find hope in the face of loss. Saturday, June 8, 1:00pm (Q&A with Valerio Mastandrea and Chiara Martegiani) Loro Paolo Sorrentino, Italy/France, 2018, 150m Italian with English subtitles The Oscar-winning director of The Great Beauty returns with a satirical reimagining of the fall of Silvio Berlusconi (Toni Servillo). Loro offers ample sex and drugs as it follows Sergio Morra (Riccardo Scamarcio), a power-hungry talent scout who installs himself in a villa next door to Berlusconi with a troupe of young escorts. But the debauchery stands in pointed contrast to the prime minister¹s slow decline. Despite Morra¹s determination to coax his neighbor to one of his ragers, Berlusconi is dealing with a quieter range of chamber dramas: a long-suffering wife who doesn¹t believe in his limp vows of fidelity, a son with whom he¹s trying to bond, and a mounting sense of helplessness and apathy as he feels power slipping through his fingers. Somewhere at the intersection of Fellini and Scarface, Sorrentino locates the weakening pulse of a political era. An IFC Films release. Saturday, June 8, 9:00pm Tuesday, June 11, 8:00pm Lucia¹s Grace / Troppa Grazia Gianni Zanasi, Italy/Greece/Spain, 2018, 110m Italian with English subtitles North American Premiere Alba Rohrwacher (Happy as Lazzaro, I Am Love) stars as a land surveyor and single mother whose compassion is tested when she learns that her new building project threatens the environmental safety of the city. While she is torn between her decision to speak up or keep her job, a mysterious woman enters Lucia's already chaotic life and proposes she build a church on the site. Lucia¹s Grace, which was the Closing Night selection of the 2018 Cannes Directors' Fortnight, is a pleasantly original comedy about faith and acceptance in the modern world, and a showcase of Rohrwacher¹s emotional range and flair for physical comedy. Monday, June 10, 3:30pm Wednesday, June 12, 7:00pm Magical Nights / Notti magiche Paolo Virzì, Italy, 2018, 125m Italian with English subtitles North American Premiere The latest from maestro Paolo Virzì (Human Capital) is a sparkling murder mystery and film industry satire set in the early 1990s, the tail end of Italian cinema¹s golden age, when neorealism and commedia all¹italiana gave way to a culture of excess, greed, and artistic stagnation. When a famous film producer is found dead in the Tiber River, suspicion falls on three young screenwriters who, when they are hauled in for questioning, recount their wild adventures navigating Rome¹s declining film industry. Studded with winking references to Italian cinema legends, Magical Nights is Virzì¹s loving yet irreverent glance back to the not-so-good old days. Sunday, June 9, 12:45pm Wednesday, June 12, 4:30pm Normal Adele Tulli, Italy, 2019, 67m Italian with English subtitles North American Premiere Atmospheric vignettes in such striking settings as a doctor¹s office, a toy factory, and a dirt bike rally build off of one another in Adele Tulli¹s stylized documentary, which reckons with the ever-changing norms around gender identity. Through a diverse cross-section of Italian society‹including tween pop idols, stage parents, socialites, gamers, and soon-to-be-newlyweds‹Tulli finds a humanistic pathos, whether it be in the solitary gaze of a young child, or in the mass groupthink of an exercise class. A standout from the Berlin Film Festival¹s Panorama section, Normal is a sweeping work of anthropology that looks at the ways that conventional gender expression is instilled and reinforced. Monday, June 10, 8:30pm (Q&A with Adele Tulli) Ricordi? Valerio Mieli, Italy/France, 2018, 106m Italian with English subtitles North American Premiere Nine years after his debut feature, Ten Winters, played in Open Roads, Valerio Mieli returns with an evocative romance about an unnamed, archetypal couple (Luca Marinelli and Isabella Ragonese) wrestling with the passage of time. When they move into the house where Marinelli¹s character spent his childhood summers, the past resurfaces in sensory bursts and exerts a profound hold on him; meanwhile, she struggles to overcome his anxieties about the inevitability of change. Ricordi? is an earthy meditation on love that¹s pushed and pulled by the tidal waves of memory. Friday, June 7, 8:30pm (Q&A with Valerio Mieli) Selfie Agostino Ferrente, France/Italy, 2019, 78m Italian with English subtitles North American Premiere Several years after an unarmed teenager was shot by police in the Traiano region of Naples, filmmaker Agostino Ferrente traveled to the gang-ravaged neighborhood to make a documentary about the lives of its young people‹for whom the prospect of being swept up in Camorra activity perpetually looms. The film¹s central subjects are Alessandro and Pietro, 16-year-old best friends whom Ferrente recruited to film themselves using smartphones in ³selfie² mode as they go about their daily lives. The result is at once lyrical and raw, a deceptively offhand, richly moving chronicle of adolescent friendship in a social microcosm shaped by economic precarity, conflicting moralities, and the improbable persistence of hope. Sunday, June 9, 9:00pm (Q&A with Agostino Ferrente) Tuesday, June 11, 4:15pm Sono Gassman! Vittorio re della commedia Fabrizio Corallo, Italy, 2018, 94m Italian with English subtitles North American Premiere This brisk, engaging documentary surveys the life, work, and legacy of Vittorio Gassman, the Italian screen icon who began his illustrious career as a serious dramatic stage actor before going on to subvert that image in classic works of commedia all¹italiana by Mario Monicelli (Big Deal on Madonna Street), Dino Risi (Il Sorpasso), and Ettore Scola (We All Loved Each Other So Much). Through a wealth of interviews, film clips, and archival footage, Sono Gassman! reveals how Gassman¹s comedic screen persona cannily reflected and critiqued mid-20th-century Italian society, while shedding light on the complex inner life of the man himself. Sunday, June 9, 3:30pm (Q&A with Fabrizio Corallo) Twin Flower / Fiore Gemello Laura Luchetti, Italy, 2018, 96m Italian and French with English subtitles In writer-director Laura Luchetti¹s strikingly photographed second feature, two teenage runaways forge a relationship haunted by their respective pasts. Anna (Anastasiya Bogach) is eluding a human trafficker for whom her father worked, and Basim (Kallil Kone) is a refugee from the Ivory Coast in search of gainful employment. Together they embark on a dangerous trip across the tough but breathtaking terrain of Sardinia in the hopes of overcoming their personal demons. The remarkable chemistry between Bogach and Kone‹both nonprofessional actors‹carries Luchetti¹s powerful film about coming of age in the throes of the refugee crisis. Received Honorable Mention for the Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) at TIFF 2018. Friday, June 7, 6:00pm (Q&A with Laura Luchetti) The Vice of Hope / Il vizio della speranza Edoardo De Angelis, Italy, 2018, 96m Italian with English subtitles A compassionate woman desperately fights to escape the criminal life she was born into in this breathless tale of resilience and inner strength. Maria (Pina Turco) assists her aunt in the family business of trafficking pregnant women through the shadowy, black market baby underground. When she helps one of the women escape, Maria‹now pregnant herself‹is plunged deeper into the underworld than she is prepared to go. Capturing the grey, rubble-strewn bleakness of its lawless port town setting in immersive, tension-building tracking shots, this stirring survival saga finds unexpected grace in a seemingly hopeless world. Winner of Best Actress (Pina Turco) and Best Director at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2018. Thursday, June 6, 9:00pm (Q&A with Edoardo de Angelis)
Ermanno Olmi Retrospettive
The Cardboard Village / Il villaggio di cartone Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 2011, 87m Italian with English subtitles At the age of 80, Olmi directed his penultimate fiction film, a striking parable about the defense of faith in a world posed to deny it. An old church is scheduled for demolition: the paintings have been taken off the walls, the sacred objects put away, and a giant, mechanical arm starts to take down the life-size crucifix that hangs over the altar. Yet despite seeing the destruction of a place in which he has devoted so much of his life, the old priest (Michael Lonsdale, in a beautiful performance) feels a certain joy, for stripped of all its decorations, the building has returned to its true nature as a meeting place for humanity and the Divine, where the poor and the desperate can find a haven. As so often in his work, Olmi starts with a philosophical or spiritual themes and then fashions a story that gives these themes a powerful, contemporary relevance. Friday, June 21, 8:45pm Wednesday, June 26, 2:00pm The Circumstance / La circostanza Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1973, 35mm, 97m Italian with English subtitles The modernist tendencies that Olmi flirted with throughout the 1960s and ’70s reached their most intense and abstract heights in this fractured family portrait. Told in an elliptical maze of flashbacks and jagged edits, The Circumstance charts the unraveling of a well-heeled Milanese family over the course of a fateful summer when, after witnessing a near-fatal motorcycle accident, the mother becomes obsessed with the young victim. Applying his keenly observant eye for social details to an upper-middle-class milieu, Olmi crafts a trenchant and empathetic look at the search for meaning amid the empty alienation bourgeois existence. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Monday, June 17, 4:00pm Wednesday, June 19, 8:30pm The Fiancés / I Fidanzati Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1963, 35mm, 77m Italian with English subtitles Olmi achieved early acclaim with his third feature, which Kent Jones called “by far his most beautiful foray into modernist territory, simply because it feels so homegrown.” As if to bridge the gap from his prior film, Il Posto, Olmi opens with a dancehall sequence in which our doleful protagonist—factory worker Giovanni (Carlo Cabrini)—faces the weight of his choices. Giovanni has been offered a promotion, but it means relocating from Milan to far-off Sicily for 18 months and leaving behind his longtime fiancée Liliana (Anna Canzi). There he finds loneliness and isolation among the mainland transplants and anxiety over his future with Liliana. Melding Antonioni-esque alienation and essentially neorealist content (using nonprofessional actors), Olmi tenders a work both melancholy and lyrical. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Saturday, June 15, 4:30pm Tuesday, June 18, 8:30pm Sunday, June 23, 7:30pm
Genesis: The Creation and the Flood / Genesi (La creazione e il diluvio) Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1994, 35mm, 91m Italian with English subtitles In one of his most ravishingly sensuous works, Olmi imagines the biblical book of Genesis as a golden-hued visual tone poem. Shot in Morocco with a cast of local Bedouins, Genesis: The Creation and the Flood begins as an old man answers his curious grandson’s questions by recounting to him the Christian story of creation, from the first day, to the tale of Adam and Eve, to the myth of the great flood. Worlds removed from the high-gloss spectacle of Hollywood’s biblical epics, Olmi’s vision is a meditative, lyrical expression of personal spirituality that finds transcendence in the beauty of the natural world. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Monday, June 17, 2:00pm Tuesday, June 25, 8:30pm Greenery Will Bloom Again / Torneranno i prati Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 2014, 80m Italian with English subtitles At the age of 83, Olmi turned his attention to the First World War. But instead of making a combat film, he chose to capture a single snowy night on the Italian front, as soldiers burrowed in trenches confront their loneliness and find pockets of hope where they can. With measured pacing and sparse dialogue, hypnotizing in its patient alertness and reminiscent of Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line in its ethereality and focus on inner thoughts, this haunting meditation features actual World War I footage and is dedicated to the director’s father, who told Olmi tales of the war when he was a child. DCP from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Thursday, June 20, 4:00pm Saturday, June 22, 2:00pm Il Posto Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1961, 35mm, 93m Italian with English subtitles As with the earlier Italian neorealists, Olmi generally opted to work with nonprofessional actors and frequently shot on location, but such strategies are here used to depict life during the era of rapid economic expansion following the postwar recovery. The film follows wide-eyed Domenico as he journeys to Milan to interview for his first job. There, he becomes smitten with a young woman, Antonietta, applying for a position at the same company, a blush of romantic longing counterposed with the spiritual enervation of his office’s paper-pushing maze. “For me,” Olmi once remarked, “the cinema is a state of mind and a process of analysis from a series of detailed observations,” and this attitude is very much at work in Il Posto, a tender yet unflinching look at the passage into adulthood and capitalist bureaucracy, with all its concomitant disappointments. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Friday, June 14, 4:30pm Wednesday, June 19, 6:30pm Friday, June 21, 4:00pm In the Summertime / Durante l’estate Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1971, 35mm, 105m Italian with English subtitles Olmi took a turn into Chaplin-esque whimsy with this rarely screened tragicomic fable about an eccentric mapmaker with a most unusual hobby: conferring phony aristocratic titles, complete with custom-made coats of arms, upon ordinary people in whom he detects a certain nobility. It’s a curious avocation that leads to both unexpected human connection and serious legal trouble when his lofty fantasies bump up against harsh reality. The closest Olmi came to pure comedy—delicate and bittersweet as it may be—In the Summertime achieves a touching poignancy thanks to the director’s abiding affection for the good-hearted outsiders of the world. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Saturday, June 15, 6:15pm Tuesday, June 18, 2:00pm The Legend of the Holy Drinker / La leggenda del santo bevitore Ermanno Olmi, Italy/France, 1988, 35mm, 128m English, French, and Italian with English subtitles The spiritual humanism that runs through Olmi’s work reaches transcendent heights in this sublime adaptation of a novella by Austrian writer Joseph Roth. When a pious stranger bequeaths him 200 francs—with the caveat that he someday repay the debt in the form of an offering to Saint Therese—a homeless alcoholic (a transfixing Rutger Hauer) living under the bridges of Paris finds himself launched into a subtly surreal journey of the soul that takes him from the height of luxury to the depths of despair. Set to the music of Stravinsky and punctuated by hypnotic passages that unfold with the hushed intensity of a reverie, The Legend of the Holy Drinker confirmed Olmi’s status as cinema’s most sensitive chronicler of the downtrodden and dispossessed. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Sunday, June 16, 8:00pm Saturday, June 22, 7:30pm
Long Live the Lady! / Lunga vita alla signora! Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1987, 35mm, 105m English, French, and Italian with English subtitles Six young men and women are whisked away to a mysterious, heavily surveilled castle in the mountains where they are being employed as the hired help for a swanky soiree, an elaborate dinner party for a coterie of intellectual and cultural elites presided over by an ancient, unsmiling noblewoman. But as the bizarre, oddly funereal night progresses, the young charges being to suspect there is something fishy going on—and it’s not just the enormous, grotesque flounder being served as the centerpiece. A subversive, Buñuelian send-up of one of Olmi’s recurring concerns—the conditioning of young people for the labor force—Long Live the Lady! is a rich and strange feast indeed. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Monday, June 17, 8:15pm Wednesday, June 19, 2:00pm A Man Named John / E venne un uomo Ermanno Olmi, UK/Italy, 1965, 35mm, 90m English and Italian with English subtitles This unique biography of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli—the son of humble Bergamo sharecroppers who would go on to become the much-loved and subsequently sainted Pope John XXIII—casts Rod Steiger as an “intermediary” between the man and the audience, narrating and sometimes reenacting the formative events of his life. Based on the diaries Roncalli kept during his teenage years, A Man Named John is less a conventional biopic than an awe-inspiring, deeply felt spiritual portrait that glows with the Catholic piety and belief in the extraordinary goodness of ordinary people so central to Olmi’s worldview. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Sunday, June 23, 2:00pm Wednesday, June 26, 4:00pm One Fine Day / Un certo giorno Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1968, 35mm, 105m Italian with English subtitles Olmi returned to the soulless corporate environs of Il Posto for this provocatively open-ended portrait of bourgeois moral breakdown. Unfolding in a series of fleeting flashbacks and impressions, the ironically titled One Fine Day takes place in the mind of a philandering, middle-aged advertising executive whose banal existence is upended by two sudden twists of fate—one that works seemingly to his advantage, the other a tragedy that leaves him questioning everything. Steadfastly refusing to pass judgement on his subject, Olmi creates a minutely sketched character study that exemplifies his mantra: “For me, the cinema is a state of mind and a process of analysis from a series of detailed observations.” 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Saturday, June 15, 8:30pm Tuesday, June 18, 4:15pm One Hundred Nails / Centochiodi Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 2007, 35mm, 92m English and Italian with English subtitles Conceived by Olmi as his final film (though he would ultimately go on to direct two more narrative features), this deceptively slight character study neatly summarizes the director’s spiritual and humanist philosophies. Opening with a shocking crime—a twisted individual has driven stakes through 100 precious books at a university library—the film goes on to follow the perpetrator: a disillusioned religion scholar (Raz Degan) who flees the arid world of academia to rediscover himself amid the simple pleasures of the countryside. Awash in images of impressionist beauty, One Hundred Nails is a paean to that which Olmi loved most: the glory of the natural world and the goodness of everyday people. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Thursday, June 20, 2:00pm Wednesday, June 26, 9:00pm World Premiere of New Digital Restoration The Profession of Arms / Il mestiere delle armi Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 2001, 105m Italian with English subtitles The Profession of Arms is Olmi’s quietly shattering requiem for Giovanni de’ Medici, the 16th-century military captain whose death signaled the end of an era in Italian history. Hired by the Pope to command an army of mercenary Italian soldiers against invading German forces, the fearless de’ Medici leads his band of condottieri in a series of increasingly intense battles—until a cannon wound to the leg leaves him on the brink of death. With a painterly visual style and a meticulous attention to period detail, Olmi crafts a hushed and hallucinatory meditation on corporeal suffering, spiritual release, and the inhumanity of industrial warfare. This restoration was completed in 2019 at the Istituto Luce-Cinecittà laboratories, by Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale and Istituto Luce-Cinecittà, from the original 35mm picture and Dolby Master audio. Laboratory work was supervised by director of photography Fabio Olmi. Sound restoration supervision by Federico Savina. Sunday, June 16, 5:30pm Friday, June 21, 6:30pm
The Scavengers / I recuperanti Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1970, 35mm, 101m Italian with English subtitles Shot amid the scenic splendor of the Alps, this postwar-set pastoral follows the fortunes of a young soldier who returns from the front lines to his home village faced with no prospects. Desperate to earn a living, he joins forces with a boisterous, free-spirited old man who teaches him the ropes of a most dangerous line of work: salvaging undetonated bombs leftover from the war for scrap metal. A tender, rollicking portrait of intergenerational friendship shot with a documentarian’s eye for naturalism, The Scavengers is an alternately lighthearted and serious variation on Olmi’s key theme: the tension between the demands of labor and personal liberty. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Saturday, June 15, 2:00pm Monday, June 17, 6:00pm The Secret of the Old Woods / Il segreto del bosco vecchio Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1993, 35mm, 134m Italian with English subtitles Following the death of his uncle, a bull-headed army colonel (beloved Italian character actor Paolo Villaggio) inherits a storybook mountain estate with the stipulation that he preserve, at all costs, the ancient woodlands adjoining it. When, despite the warnings of the townspeople, the stubborn military man proceeds with a plan to cut down the trees and sell the lumber, he awakens the spirits that dwell within the forest who fight to save their home. Gorgeously shot on location in the mist-shrouded, moonlight-drenched Dolomite mountains, this wondrous magical-realist fable is graced with a gentle animist spirit and an impassioned message of ecological stewardship. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Wednesday, June 26, 6:15pm Singing Behind Screens / Cantando dietro i paraventi Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 2003, 35mm, 98m English, Italian, and Mandarin with English subtitles Stories within stories and plays within plays feature prominently in Olmi’s late works, perhaps never more dazzlingly than in this rapturous blend of Chinese opera, high-seas adventure, and fairy tale. On a rain-soaked night, a timid young man mistakenly enters a Chinese brothel where he is mesmerized by a most amazing sight: an opulent stage production about the legend of a vengeful female pirate that shifts magically between layers of reality. A sensuous and surreal spectacle, Singing Behind Screens finds the director leaving his neorealist roots behind once and for all in favor of sumptuous, fully transportive fantasy. Wednesday, June 19, 4:30pm Tuesday, June 25, 6:00pm Time Stood Still / Il tempo si è fermato Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1958, 35mm, 83m Italian with English subtitles Tasked by the Edison-Volta electric company with documenting the building of a hydroelectric dam, Olmi turned the project into his first narrative feature: a charmingly inventive human comedy bursting with the fresh exuberance of youth. In a snowbound shack in the Alps, a veteran dam worker—charged with overseeing the construction site while the rest of the crew is away for Christmas—has his solitude interrupted by the arrival of an unexpected roommate: a rock ’n’ roll–mad young man with whom he gradually forms an unexpected bond. Imbuing the simple story with sincere humanity, Olmi finds common ground in the gulf between generations. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Friday, June 14, 2:30pm Tuesday, June 18, 6:30pm The Tree of Wooden Clogs / L’albero degli zoccoli Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1978, 186m Italian with English subtitles Olmi’s Palme d’Or–winning masterpiece is an epic, ennobling portrait of four families living and working on a wealthy landowner’s estate in 19th-century Lombardy. From an accumulation of richly observed details, the director builds a work of monumental majesty that vividly portrays the peasants’ hardships, celebrations, beliefs, relationships to the land and animals, and, above all, the rhythms and rituals of their work, at once backbreaking but honest in its purity. Balancing an almost documentary-like commitment to realism with a poetic feeling for landscape, The Tree of Wooden Clogs overflows with love and concern for its common heroes. Friday, June 14, 6:30pm Sunday, June 16, 2:00pm Saturday, June 22, 4:00pm Walking, Walking / Cammina cammina Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 1983, 35mm, 171m Italian with English subtitles Five years after the international success of The Tree of Wooden Clogs, Olmi returned with another neorealist historical epic, this one a sprawling retelling of the biblical story of the Magi. Opening in contemporary Italy as a village prepares for a celebratory reenactment of the wise men’s journey, the film magically transforms pageant into “reality,” following the three kings and a caravan of believers on their arduous pilgrimage to Bethlehem, their courage and faith tested every step of the way. Forgoing preachy piousness in favor of probing philosophical inquiry and earthy realism, Olmi crafts a provocative, uniquely elemental spiritual odyssey. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Sunday, June 23, 4:00pm Tuesday, June 25, 2:30pm All films screen digitally at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.) unless otherwise noted. Learn more at filmlinc.org.