Essential Cinema: "Roberto Rossellini: Restored & Revisited" Series Begins May 3

Ingrid Bergman on the set of STROMBOLI (1950), screening May 12

Roberto Rossellini was a force. His production achievements are legendary—he made one of the greatest films about World War II, ROME, OPEN CITY during World War II, hustling the prohibitively scant resources available in newly liberated Rome in order to get his production going; or shooting Hollywood’s biggest star, Ingrid Bergman, tromping around barefoot on an erupting volcano. While his exploits behind the camera are often heroic/insane, his films are the opposite of bombastic. What makes Rossellini so special, and so relevant today, is that he was a facilitator of miracles.

Eschewing screenplays, sometimes entirely (the shooting script for JOURNEY TO ITALY was three scribbles on a piece of paper and an expletive for his producer), Rossellini brilliantly assembled just the right elements to create powerful, unique narratives. Today, as acclaimed television shows are made with an industrial “shoot it out” approach that favor script over performance, Rossellini is a reminder of how observation and a deep understanding of film grammar are the ingredients of a transcendent film.  Consider Anna Magnani in the final sequence of ROME, OPEN CITY, a scene so emotional that it set off the brilliant actress to partially improvise one of the all time greatest moments of cinema. In JOURNEY TO ITALY, the film’s poetic climax was an unscripted accident, a moment created by the connectedness of the performances, an excellent cinematographer, and Rossellini’s ability to trust his heart, and his nose, which often found the action so he could lead his production there.

In May, AFS presents five post-war period Rossellini films, four of them digital restorations from the Cineteca di Bologna’s “Rossellini Project”, which bring the films to life in a completely new light, as all previous copies had a myriad of technical issues. Each of the films in the series points to Rossellini’s ability to seek and find wonders. (AFS Associate Artistic Director Holly Herrick)

Dates, times and ticket links follow.

rome open city
Tue, May 3, 2016, 7:30 PM 
During the last gasps of WWII in newly liberated Rome, young and still green director Roberto Rossellini begged, borrowed and cheated to create this masterpiece that told the story of the heroism of everyday Romans in wartime. Presented here in a beautiful DCP restoration by the Cinneteca di Bologna.

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Tue, May 10, 2016, 7:30 PM

One of the most moving and precise cinematic renderings of the personal experience of war can be found in PAISAN, the film that defined Rossellini as a humanist, and drew criticism from all sides, particularly his Communist and Catholic supporters. Digital restoration.

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Thu, May 12, 2016, 7:30 PM

Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman became lovers on this first collaboration, which features the actress as a war refugee whose marriage of convenience makes her a stranger in a strange land on the desolate volcanic island of Stromboli. Digital restoration.

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Thu, May 19, 2016, 7:30 PM
Fri, May 20, 2016, 8 PM

Inspired by Saint Francis' love and empathy and his own interest in spirituality, Rossellini tells the stories of Francis and his followers through a series of short episodes.

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Thu, May 26, 2016, 7:30 PM
Sun, May 29, 2016, 1 PM
Ingrid Bergman's third collaboration with Rossellini (appropriately about a couple's failing marriage), draws on the magic of Italy as its subject and inspiration. Rossellini's love of observing and discovering local culture made love letters to Italy of all his films, and JOURNEY TO ITALY draws that wonderful aspect of Rossellini's work into focus.
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