Commercial movies to make way for true hardcore art films this month

ABU DHABI — The Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi will steer clear of commercial movies this month, offering the audience some true, hardcore art films in two cinematic festivals — Iranian and Italian.


Silvia Radan

Published: Thu 12 Jun 2008, 8:25 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:28 PM

For four consecutive Sundays, June 15, 22, 29 and July 6, some of the greatest Italian Neorealism masterpieces by director Roberto Rossellini will be rolling here — Paisa (The Country), Roma, Citta Aperta (Rome, The Open City), Viaggio in Italia (Travel in Italy) and Francesco, Giullare di Dio (The Flowers of St. Francis).

Much affected by the Nazi occupation of Italy during the last years of World War II and its devastating aftermath, Italian Neorealism painted the gloom realities of life that went on from 1943 till 1952.

Unlike Realism though, Neorealism switched from the black and white, clear-cut good versus bad to the borderline grey area of not so good versus not so bad.

Roma (1945) and Paisa (1946) are part of a trilogy, to which Rossellini added Germany, Year Zero (1948) that propelled the film-maker to the top of critics' choice in the first stage of his career.

Paisa is a film in six episodes, set at the end of the Second World War, all depicting the tenuous relationship between the recently liberated Italians and their American liberators.

Like most of Rossellini's movies, this one too was produced with non-actors, simply because the film director found professional actors to be too much of a headache.

The war drama Roma, Citta Aperta stars Aldo Fabrizi and Anna Magnani, the only professional actors in the cast, and has Federico Fellini as a script assistant.

The tragic story evolves around a small group of people involved in the Italian resistance, their beliefs, patriotism and relationships with each other.

Viaggio in Italia, starring Rossellini's wife Ingrid Bergman, the famous Swedish actress, had a poor reception at the box office, but it was much praised by film critics, including Francois Truffaut, who proclaimed it "the first modern film".

The plot is about a British couple that had gone on a trip to Italy. Upon their arrival in Naples, they suffer a crisis in their relationship and the feelings between them change even more on a visit to the city of Pompeii, where they witness an ancient statue being discovered.

The Flowers of St. Francis, co-written by Federico Fellini, based on the 14th century book Little Flowers of Saint Francis, is divided into nine chapters each covering an incident in the life of St. Francis, the patron saint of Italy and also of animals, birds and the environment.

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