We’re very excited to promote the latest edition of the Italianist academic journal which features a number of materials from the conference. Included are excellent articles from many of our participants, in addition to adaptations of the round table interventions of Dr. Guido Bonsaver, ‘Themes and challenges for Italian film studies’, Dr. Catherine O’ Rawe, ‘The Italian spectator and her critics’, and Dr. Fabio Vighi ‘Nonsense that matters: some observations on psychoanalysis and Italian cinema’. Pauline Small’s paper has also been published, entitled ‘The New Italian Film History‘, and the organizers have contributed both a review of the conference and an article on the work of Cinemonitor
Futher information can be found here.
Da Sodoma a Gomorra: Framing Crisis and Rebirth in Italian Cinema
University of Warwick, 22-24 January 2010.
Since the 1970s, when Pier Paolo Pasolini released his scandalous Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1975), Italian cinema has alternately been identified, critically and commercially, as paralysed by crisis or on the verge of ‘re-birth’. In 2007-10 alone, local anxiety about the condition of Italian cinema as a key element of national cultural production, expressed in critical debate in the national press, has been counter-balanced by the international success of films such as Gomorra (Matteo Garrone, 2008). Within this contested critical and public arena, this conference sought to bring intellectual precision to the interpretation of Italian cinema in the past four decades, by sharpening the focus on specific theoretical issues and by mapping cinema production and reception within the broader contexts of Italian social and cultural history.
Organized by Jennifer Burns, Mariarita Martino Grisà and Dom Holdaway (Italian), the conference was generously supported by the HRC and the Department of Italian at Warwick, as well as by the AHRC and the Society for Italian Studies. It brought fifty international scholars to the University of Warwick for three days of engaging debate, including keynote lectures from two of the most established specialists of Italian cinema, Professor Vito Zagarrio (Roma Tre), who spoke on digital film-making and contemporary developments, and Emeritus Professor Peter Bondanella (Indiana), who outlined a critical history of Italian film studies. The three days included a wide range of panels, encompassing theoretical approaches informed by issues of gender and sexuality, psychoanalysis, politics and ideology, and including studies of immigration and auteur cinema. The conference closed with a lively panel discussion in which four prominent UK-based researchers in Italian screen studies articulated conclusions from the conference panels in the context of their own areas of expertise. A particularly powerful element in this closing discussion, as well as in individual papers and responses throughout the conference, was an interrogation of the lack of serious critical attention hitherto afforded to popular Italian cinema. This is one example of how the conference achieved its aim of pinpointing key areas for development within Italian screen studies, so responding to a call articulated emphatically by Alan O’Leary and Catherine O’Rawe, in a 2008 special edition on cinema of the journal Italian Studies, for a ‘more robust theoretical debate’ in the area.
Jennifer Burns, Dom Holdaway
Department of Italian
(This review is published in the Humanities Research Centre at Warwick’s newsletter. More info on the HRC at
A quick note, following the conference’s conclusion yesterday afternoon, to thank all of the participants of the conference for helping to stimulate such vibrant and captivating dialogues on the contemporary Italian cinema. My colleague Mariarita & I are very happy with the event, and thankful both for all contributions and the kind words of our colleagues. Special thanks to Filippo Trentin, Gabriella Addivinola, Simone Brioni and Serena Bassi for helping keep the conference running, to Sue Dibben for doing pretty much everything, to Dr.s Jenny Burns and Loredana Polezzi for bringing reassuring words and a calming presence, and to the four panelists, Dr.s Bonsaver, O’Leary, O’Rawe and Vighi for seeing the event through and triggering such an interesting and lively debate.
The next step will hopefully be to form some kind of publication, which we are very excited about, and I’ll post a more detailed review of the event in the near future.
Watch this space!
D & M
We are pleased to announce the participation of Fabio Vighi in the closing roundtable event, to take place on Sunday evening. Dr. Vighi (Cardiff) will join Dr.s O’ Rawe (Bristol), O’Leary (Leeds) and Bonsaver (Oxford) to discuss the key themes of the conference and trigger an open and vibrant discussion with all delegates.
Given his publishing background, and the large number of psychoanalysis- based interventions, we are quite sure that Dr. Vighi will bring an exciting perspective and contribute a great deal.
In the mean time watch this space for the final programme!
M & D
Ernesto Galli della Loggia, the Corriere journalist who has triggered earlier debates in the Italian press, (see ‘Media Responses’) caused some controversy on Christmas eve with this article. The writer is very critical of the latest in the ‘Natale a…’ series (Natale a Beverly Hills), labeling it ‘una serie ininterrotta di volgarità condite di parolacce: una specie di lunga scritta oscena sulla parete del cesso d’una stazione’, a film which seemingly represents contemporary Italian society. More offensive, the critic claims, is that the film is qualified as ‘d’interesse culturale e nazionale’, and therefore has its taxes waved: this is typically awarded to ‘film d’essai’, and should typically be used to create a space for emerging cinemas.
The article has already triggered a couple of responses: Fini’s FareFuturo foundation has attempted a boycott of the film (though it is currently at the top of the box office, having made some €3.4 million), and, in an interview in the Corriere, one of the lead stars, Christian De Sica, defends the film: building on the words of the Ministro dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali (Sandro Bondi) has pointed out that the funding of the film has functioned as more of an investment. The profits will (somehow) be returned to the state for further application to emergent film
Once again the theme of the conference seems to be right at the middle of this debate: the Cinepanettone is, by now, a fairly fundamental player within the field of Italian cinema, yet one which is extremely criticized. Yet when it is repeatedly successful, making some €20 million each year, it seems difficult to simply ignore it, an elephant in the room, as a major section of the new face of the national cinema. I think the Guardian website, who have reported this story here, put it in the most relevant/interesting terms: ‘this lowbrow yuletide tale has sparked an unholy row in the nation of Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini’. Once again, the maestri/fathers of Italian film are casting a long shadow which is difficult to escape.
The lovely folks over at Cinemonitor, in Rome, in collaboration with Mariarita have published an article about the conference, which can be accessed here.
Check it out!
Mariarita & Dom
Registration for the conference is now open, and the relevant file can be accessed on the main conference website, here.
We are also excited to announce a provisional programme for the event, which is as follows:
Da Sodoma a Gomorra: Framing Crisis and Rebirth in Italian Cinema (from the 1970s to the 2000s)
Friday 22nd January
10-11 Registration and coffee (graduate space)
Introduction and Welcome: (graduate space) Head of Department Dr. Jennifer Burns, with Mariarita Martino Grisa’ & Dom Holdaway
11-12.30 Parallel Session
1a. Modes of Rebirth: Genre and popular cinema (graduate space) (Chair: tbc)
Uva, Christian – Italia Calibro 38
Delon, Nicoletta – Nostalgia & the 1970s Poliziesco: The Anatomy of the Myth and its Nation
Marklund, Anders – Reassuring Relationships? Romance and Family according to Popular Italian Cinema since the Millennium
1.b Nostalgia and Ambiguity: Between History & Memory (H403) (Chair:tbc)
Marchetti, Silvia – Italian (and “Other”) Cinema and the Shoah: Rebirth or Identity Crisis?
Caoduro, Elena – Nostalgia Canaglia: The Role of the Melancholic dimension in in Recent Italian Historical Films
Zamboni, Camilla – From Man to Musselman: Disruption Through Liminality in Lina Wertmuller’s Seven Beauties
12.30-1.30 lunch (graduate space)
1.30-2.30 Parallel session
2a. Languages of Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Cinema (H545) (Chair: Mariarita Martino Grisa’)
Carroli, Piera – ‘La sconosciuta’: Irena’s Vengeance and Reclaim
Marini, Alessandro – Ossessione e modernità in ‘Primo amore’ di Matteo Garrone
2b. Per ridere sul serio: Comedy and denuncia (H403) (Chair: Dom Holdaway)
Watters, Clare – ‘Fascisti su Marte’: Parodying the Past and Present
D’Amelio, Maria Elena – Virzì e la favola nera.
3. Prof. Vito Zagarrio (H058)
3.30-4.00 Break – tea/coffee
4.00-5.30 Plenary session
4. Italian cinema: New Directions & Applications (H058) (Chair tbc)
The Mission of Cinemonitor – Electronic Link with ‘La Sapienza’.
Ceraolo, Francesco – Vittorio Storaro e l’Univisium. Una possibile nuova frontiera italiana per il cinema digitale
Serio, Adalgisa – “ Camera! Action: the tutor as facilitator”
5.30-6.30 drinks (Humanities Concourse)
6.30. film screening (tbc)
9.30-11.00 Parallel session
5a. Adjusting the Focus: Pan-European Perceptions of Italy (H 545) (Chair: TBC)
Douglas, James – Configuring Alterity Migrations: A Third Cinema Approach in Gianni Amelio’s ‘Lamerica’
Keating, Abigail – Italian Film in the Light of Transnationalism: Aesthetics, Representation, Space
Nastri, Manuela – Dalla lotta di classe all’autocrazia di una classe suprema. Il concetto di italianità all’estero, analisi di alcuni film presentati nell’ultimo decennio al festival di Cannes.
5b. The Real, Reality, Realisms (H052) (Chair: TBC)
Leonardo, Laura – ‘Crisis and re-birth or re-birth and crisis: Italian neo-neorealism.’
Calabretta-Sajder, Ryan – (title TBC)
Cori,Emiliano – Greek Tragedy, Screen Adaptation and Contemporary Reality: ‘Luna rossa’ by Antonio Capuano
11.00-11.30 coffee (Humanities Concourse)
11.30 – 1.00 Plenary session
6. Modes and Questions of impegno (H 545) (Chair: Jennifer Burns)
Antonello, Pier Paolo – Reading ‘Impegno’ (and Realism) Against the Grain: From Moretti to Sorrentino
D’Onofrio, Emanuele – Film Composers & Impegno in Contemporary Italian Cinema
Bieberstein, Rada – How to Recover the Real – Italian Cinema since the 1990s
1.00-2.00 lunch (graduate space)
2.00-3.30 Plenary session
7. Constructing Cinematic Masculinities since the 1980s (H052) (Chair: tbc)
O’Healy, Áine – Masculinity, Abjection, and the Melancholic Autore: Portraits of the Filmmaker in Crisis
Pitt, Roger – ‘È difficile diventare grandi in Italia!’: The Traumas of Becoming in Nanni Moretti’s La stanza del figlio (2001)
O’Rawe, Catherine – Masculinity, Otherness and the Cinema of ‘Impegno’
8. BONDANELLA (Pauline Small as respondent) (H052)
5.30-6.30 Drinks (Humanities Concourse)
7.30 dinner (Scarman House)
Sunday 24th January
9.30-11.00 Plenary session
9a. The Gendered Pro-Filmic Space: Possession, Confinement, Domesticity (H545)
Andrews, Eleanor – Whose Place is it Anyway? Gendered Spaces in the work of Nanni Moretti
Ballarotti, Valeria – Tutta casa e casino: Female Confinement in two Italian Fascist-themes Films from the 1970s.
Baschiera, Stefano – Buongiorno notte: a petit bourgeois house in via Gradoli
9b. Re-evaluating Auteurist Art: Psychoanalytic Strains (H403) (Chair: Mariarita Martino Grisa’)
Riccobono, Riccobono, Rossella – Crisi, morte e rinascita di una poetica cinematografica dell’ ’anima’: da 8e1/2 di Federico Fellini a Il caimano di Nanni Moretti.
Benincasa, Fabio – Marco Bellocchio: decadenza e rinascita di un film-maker “ribelle”
Russo, Paolo – “What power does to the human body”: Sadism and pornography in Pasolini’s Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom
11-11.30 coffee (graduate space)
11.30-1.00 Parallel session
10a. Staging the Crisis from the Regional to the Global (H545) (Chair: tbc)
Marrone, Gaetana – Crisis Italian Style: Signs of Loss, Signs of Hope in Rosi’s ‘Diario napoletano’.
St. Ours, Kathryn – The Sacred and the scatological, From Pasolini to Ciprì and Maresco
Winkler, Daniel – Glocalizing Italian Cinema: Vincenzo Marra & Roberta Torre
10b. Investigating the other: Italian Migration Cinema (H403) (Chair: tbc)
Maraschin, Donatella – Il cinema del metissage in Italia
Molinterno, Gino – Dancing for Identity in Andrea Barzini’s Passo a due (2005)
Schrader, Sabine – La fine dei sogni bucolici ovvero “Dicono che vengono gli albanesi”: E l’aura fai son vir (2005)
1.00-2.00 lunch (graduate space)
2.00- 2.30 Plenary session
11. Prof. Small, Pauline – The new Italian film history (H545) (Chair: tbc)
2.30-4.00/5.00 12. Closing panel discussion (grad space)
with Dr. Guido Bonsaver, Dr. Alan O’Leary, Dr. Catherine O’Rawe & Dr. Fabio Vighi (H545) (Chair: tbc)
Please note: this programme is likely to undergo some changes before the final version is published, in January 2010.
The deadline of the Call for Papers and Panels for our conference has been extended to 30th September 2009.
Titles and abstracts (maximum of 300 words) for proposed papers (20 minutes in length) should be sent in either English or Italian to one of the conference organizers, Dominic Holdaway (D.F.G.Holdaway@warwick.ac.uk), or Mariarita Martino (Mariarita.Martino@warwick.ac.uk). We are also welcoming suggestions for panels (90 minutes in length), both topics and contributors.
Dom & Mariarita
We are excited to announce a collaboration with Cinemonitor: Osservatorio Cinema, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’, in the form of a video link-up during one of the days of the conference. Further updates on this will follow shortly.
Dom & Mariarita
Titles and abstracts (maximum of 300 words) for proposed papers (20 minutes in length) should be sent in either English or Italian to one of the conference organizers, Dominic Holdaway (D.F.G.Holdaway@warwick.ac.uk), or Mariarita Martino (Mariarita.Martino@warwick.ac.uk). We are also welcoming suggestions for panels (90 minutes in length), both topics and contributors. The deadline for abstracts is 30th August 2009.
Any further enquiries should be addressed to one of the conference organizers, otherwise please leave a comment below.
We look forward to reading your abstracts!