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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

PostModernissimo's Collection of Arthouse Films & A Bellocchio Adventure

Fabrizio Falco in "Il Lotto"
Recently, I discovered Postmodernissimo, a website dedicated to quality cinema, entertainment and visual arts.

Named after the Modernissimo D'Essai, Perugia’s oldest cinema which had closed its doors for nearly two decades, the website came about following an effort to get the cinema back up and running. After that goal was achieved, organizers broadened the cinema’s international reach by making a rotating selection of films available online. With Italy’s country-wide quarantine, the list of films was recently expanded.

Looking through the titles, I noticed a short film by Marco Bellocchio, “La Lotta” (The Fight). I watched it today. Then I watched it again, and again. I felt that I was missing something because there are so many elements and layers. I enlisted the help of our resident producer, Mauro Ianari, who produced our 2019 short about the pioneer documentarian Luigi Di Gianni. We went through the film together and noticed a name on a monument dedicated to World War II heroes- Giuseppe Bellocchio. That led to an adventurous search on the internet and we both learned so much.

Giuseppe Bellocchio was born in Bobbio, located in the region of Emilia-Romagna, in 1889 and enlisted in the Royal Army in 1908. He took part in WWI, reaching the rank of major and after being in command of some Alpine battalions, was placed in command of the Operations Office of the 7th Czechoslovak Division, a unit consisting of ex-soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was decorated with a silver and a bronze medal for military valor. After the war, he attended the Turin War School (Scuola di Guerra di Torino) for three-years and was subsequently promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1926.

Between 1928 and 1931, he was sent to Albania as an instructor for King Ahmed Zogu, who had just come to power with the support of the Kingdom of Italy. Bellocchio was promoted to colonel in 1936, assuming first command of the 3rd Alpine Regiment and then at the command of the Army Corps of Milan for special assignments. 

During the early years of WWII, he was in the region of Piedmont and helped to carry out a special assignment at the territorial defense of Bolzano. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as commander of the Military Zone of Alessandria. On March 28, 1943 he was promoted to the rank of division general. 

On the night following the armistice of September 8, 1943 between Italy and the Allies, the city of Alessandria was invaded by the Germans. Bellocchio managed to escape capture, and the next day, with the help of a police marshal, took refuge temporarily on a farm in the Alessandria countryside, later joining the partigiani (civilians fighting against the enemy) to help liberate Italy.

After retiring from the military, he returned to Bobbio and passed away there on March 7, 1966. 

It is not completely clear to us if this is the Giuseppe Bellocchio referred to in the film because, in the film, he is listed under "caduti," which means fallen. It could be another Giuseppe Bellocchio in the film or just a fictional scene. I would love to know for sure. In any case, I really enjoyed learning about this general and seeing his enchanting old pictures, which have made me so curious as to if there is a relation to our great, beloved director, Marco Bellocchio.

Giuseppe Bellocchio with his siblings and parents 
So the film, “La Lotta," I feel, is open to interpretation because there is little dialogue and many visual clues and references. It’s the story of Tonino (Fabrizio Falco), a young man who visits the local partigiani in two dreams. In the middle of these dreams, when he is awake, he talks with his mother (Ione Bertola) and girlfriend (Barbara Ronchi), raising concern about his state of mind. The cinematography is beautiful and of course upon seeing Daniele Cipri’s name in the credits, I knew why. The same can be said about the music, which was written by Nicola Piovani. The film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018 and is a project of Marco Bellocchio’s “Fondazione Fare Cinema,” which was established in his hometown of Bobbio in 1995 to encourage young, promising filmmakers.

“La Lotta” is available on PostModernissimo’s website until May 31. Click here to watch it. Click here to learn more about the film through the production company, Kavac Film. Click here to visit PostModernissimo’s homepage. Click on DI/Stanza to see the complete selection of arthouse cinema and documentaries, which include another short by Marco Bellocchio, the 2017 "Per una rosa," which I'll be watching very soon. 

Follow these links to learn more about Giuseppe Bellocchio..

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