Mussolini met his death dangling from a lamppost, an ignominious end for Italy’s pompous modern ‘emperor’. Fascism was meant to herald a new age of vigour, strength and direction instead it bred a moral cancer. This national emptiness and lack of spirit was profoundly felt, amongst others, by a number of filmmakers who, over a decade, developed a movement which became known as Neo-Realism, arguably the most profound change in style and theme that had ever influenced cinema. It was in essence a moral movement, that hoped to rejuvenate Italy, a renaissance which has continued to influence, partly through the Italian diaspora, filmmakers all over the world. There probably isn’t a film course which does not give prominence to its celebration and dramatisation of normal life. The decade of Neo-Realism, which followed fascism’s collapse lasted until the mid/late 1950s and launched the directorial careers of Luchino Visconti, Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica.
The theme of this year's Purbeck Film Festival is Italian Film and with good reason. Italian films have won 14 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, more than any other country, as well as 12 Palme d’Ors, the second most of any country.
In celebration of Italy’s film heritage the festival will be screening Vittorio De Sica’s The Garden of Finzi-Continis, Roberto Rossollini’s Stromboli and Luchino Visconti’s Senso. There will be approximately 13 Italian films, some classics such as The Conformist (Bernado Bertolucci), L’Eclisse (Michelangelo Antonioni) and La Dolce Vita whilst others will display Italy’s continuing presence in world cinema: First Beautiful Thing (Paolo Virzi), Sicilian Girl (Marco Amenta), Golden Door (Emanuella Crialese), Salvo (Fablo Grassadonia, Antonio Piazza) and The Italian Conspiracy (Marco T. Giordana). Hollywood’s Italian connection is represented by William Wyler’s Roman Holiday and Billy Wilder’s Avanti. In addition two Italian Directors will be represented in English speaking films, Sylvio Soldini’s Bread and Tulips and Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Best Offer.
A film festival should of course aim to satisfy a variety of needs and desires. This, we hope to achieve by screening films of differing genres and cinematic styles. For the family we are showing Ernest and Celestine at the Lighthouse Poole and Pinocchio at the Rex. We are particularly pleased to screen Allegro Non Troppo, a wonderful parody of Fantasia. It is an unusually successful mix of different animation styles, great classical music and quirky comedy, so different from the conservativism of Disney’s Fantasia.
The innovative Screen Bites evening is this year filled with The Lunchbox, an Indian love story between two total strangers depicting the encouraging moral that regardless of differences in age and separations in space it is never too late to start again.
For those who wish to connect with film’s archive The Rex will be showing Rudolph Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an irreplaceable gem of cinema history which has lost none of its power to move an audience.
Once again the Festival is proud to use the display facilities of the World Heritage Centre at Durlston to curate an exhibition of Italian cinema and, on loan from Aardman, the characters from Creature Comforts. There will be an opportunity to discover how the characters are made.
We all hope that 2014 will be as successful as previous years and that our chosen films will be as emotionally, intellectually and aesthetically appealing as always.
STOP PRESS: A new venue in Bournemouth
This year we are particularly pleased to announce a new venue at Pavilion Dance, Bournemouth where 4 films will be screened. Pavilion Dance, Bournemouth has a wonderful auditorium with great seating and projection. Purbeck Film Festival is working with the programmer to create an exciting programme of events in the centre of Bournemouth.