Traumatografo: Magnificent and Mysterious 1975 Film by Paolo Gioli

I did not know this filmmaker, Paolo Gioli, existed until yesterday. And that really bothers me because I feel a very strong kinship with this filmmaker just on the basis of having seen two of his pieces. What can a filmmaker do with his own backyard? That is the question that comes to my mind as I watch his films. Can a filmmaker take his camera out back and make something astounding? Of course. In fact, that skill is central to being a creative filmmaker. It is the feeling I get from Gioli. He makes films that have a guiding concern but he is not afraid to slip a little off of the main track and let you see him experimenting. One can observe his enthusiasm for a new mechanical technique and he allows his film to wander into the territory of the new machine or splicing method for a while. And then he comes back to the main thing. He never lets this get out of control and it is a miracle to watch. One can learn how to experiment by watching a brilliant experimentalist. It’s that simple.

There are many filmmakers I wish I could meet and perhaps work with. Gioli is one of them. In fact, this brings to mind again my thought that things like YouTube are the greatest cinematic development of the past half century. The reason has nothing to do with screen format or size or image quality. It has to do with intimacy. The feeling of connection one can get by watching a filmmaker’s work on the computer is far more intimate than could be achieved in a theater. It is this quality that is the most important contribution of online film to world cinema. Intimate connection to the artist. It has a powerful effect on artists and communicates ideas and inspiration from generation to generation far more effectively than any prior cinematic display technology.

Here is a nice long article by Bart Testa about this wonderful Italian filmmaker.

Here is an article by David Bordwell on how Gioli’s hand-made cameras influence his ‘vertical cinema’ technique.

Those Dreams That On the Silent Night Intrude; The Secret Cinema of Jerzy Treblinka: A Film by Luca Gennari

This is a Super 8 film made on a single cartridge without post-production effects by Italian filmmaker Luca Gennari for the Straight Eight Festival at Cannes 2010. There’s a great reference to the brilliant Super 8 filmmaker Derek Jarman buried in here. This film glories in the history of abstract, surreal and neorealist cinema. But it fuses those things with a documentary realism. It ties the artistic workings and ramblings of a mysterious filmmaker to the darkness, horror and murder of the Twentieth Century.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again… Italy is involved in a cinema movement that is just as profound as the movements there in the 1940s, 50s, and sixties. The filmmakers in Italy who are today using the Web for their expression are the equals of Fellini and Rossellini.

Propaganda Mussolini: A Film by Massimo Balloi

Italian filmmaker Massimo Balloi has made an abstract film that attempts to explain the descent of Italy into modern fascism. The rapid turn of Western democracies toward a virulent corporate fascism does in fact resemble the ideas put forth by Mussolini in the 1930s and 40s. But his effort was to mimic the efficiencies of the corporation in government. The new effort currently underway is to replace government control with corporate control. The danger is real and it is extreme. Even in the United States we see a Supreme Court allying itself with corporations. In Italy, you have a very basic corporate buffoon running the country as if it were a criminal enterprise. In the U.S. you have completely false liberals maneuvering a corporate front man into the Presidency so that every decision is made with a seemingly logical inclination toward the interests of the large corporations. We are now fighting entire wars based solely on decisions by corporations.

The twenty first century will not be the century of war against terrorists. It will be a century of war against corporations. They will gain an upper hand initially, but this will be short-lived. I say this because once you get inside these corporate structures you can observe how shockingly weak they are. BP is your perfect example. A single broken valve can weaken the entire stack of cards. These corporate entities can only flourish while people are asleep.

So? Adventure in the Univerphone

This is an Italian animated TV series about an inventor who gets sucked into the virtual world inside his cell phone. You know… like most Americans do… while they are driving at 75 mph on the freeway and they smash into a concrete pylon, spattering their dull brains across five lanes of traffic. And most deservedly so. But this little animated preview looks inviting. I like it. The series is made by Marco Bigliazzi and Fabrizio Bondi of Toposodo Episodic Productions.  The series has its own web site.

It’s Gonna Rain: A Short Film by Luca Gennari

Italian filmmaker, Luca Gennari made this beautiful and gently moving piece about her grandmother. The rural setting is a classic part of Italy. The slaughter and skinning of the rabbit is something that I have seen several times in the northern villages of Italy. Italian filmmakers seem to me to be developing a magnificent new cinema of memory with the new accessible tools of film and video making. But it is the Italian filmmakers that I see most delicately capturing the operations of memory today.