In collaboration with
Associazione Giuseppe De Santis
Giuseppe De Santis’ Centennial
"A New Way to Entertainment, to Political and Militant Cinema"
Organized by Antonio C. Vitti - Editor and Founder of Luci e Ombre
Dean Anthony Tamburri
John D. Calandra Italian American Institute
Queens College, CUNY
25 West 43rd Street, 17th Floor, New York NY 10036
Giuseppe De Santis sul set di Italiani brava gente
This symposium celebrates Giuseppe De Santis’ contributions to cinema, film studies and political intellectual engagement, which have left an indelible mark on international cinema. His creative writings as a young critic have stimulated discussions about the birth of a new concept of cinema, namely its role not only as an instrument to promote cinematic and cultural innovations, but also as a means to promote democracy, equality and social justice. His essays have enlightened filmmakers about themes that lie at the base of Neorealism, the much-discussed enduring movement, with regard to interpretation and inspiration for renewal. For that reason, we want to remember De Santis’ unique new cinematic style and militant career.
March 30-31 & April 1, 2017
THURSDAY, MARCH 30
Bitter Rice (1949). This film launched the stardom of Silvana Mangano and was a landmark of the new cinematic style. It also earned De Santis an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Story.
Presented by Francesco Samarini
*All films are in Italian with English subtitles.
Screenings are free
FRIDAY, MARCH 31
9:00 – 9:40
Coffee, bagels & donuts at the Calandra Institute
Welcoming Remarks by
Antonio C. Vitti
Luci e Ombre
PRESENTATIONS ARE LIMITED TO 20 MINUTES
10:00 – 11:15
Chair: Antonio C. Vitti
Leonardo Cabrini, Indiana University, “Modernità nel cinema neoralista. Alcune idee su Riso amaro (1949), Un marito per Anna Zaccheo (1953) e Giorni d’amore (1954) di Giuseppe De Santis”
Maria Rosaria, Vitti- Alexander, Nazareth College, “Dalle chiome di Minerva: le donne di De Santis e la narrazione corale di Riso amaro”
Maria Alexandra Catrickes, Yale University, “Gendered Body Politics: Ideological Warfare through Female Bodies in Riso amaro.”
12:00 - 13:30
Sandwiches served at the Calandra Institute
13:40 – 15:15
Chair: Sebastiano Lucci
Caroline Travalia, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, "The Peasant World in De Santis' 1950's Fairy Tale"
Carlotta Vacchelli, Indiana University, “Dalla coralità all’individualismo. Le protagoniste del cinema di Giuseppe De Santis”
Alicia Vitti, Indiana University, “Giuseppe De Santis: the Itinerary of a Man and an Artist“
Marco Grossi, Associazione De Santis, “La rivoluzione neorealista di Giuseppe De Santis."
15:40 – 16:30
Chair: Maria Rosaria Vitti-Alexander
Gloria Pastorino, “Roma: ore 11: a Choral Fresco of 1950s Italy between Theatre and Neorealism”
Daniela Privitera, Istituto d'istruzione superiore “Mario Rapisardi”, “Dalle mondariso... ai call-center. Il lavoro e la libertà della donna nel cinema di Giuseppe De Santis.”
17:00 – 18:00
Incontro con Gordana Militic-De Santis
Colloquio con Antonio Vitti e il pubblico
De Santis Cinema – neorealism – populism and demagogy
Roma ore 11 (Rome 11 o'clock), 1952
Presented by Carlotta Vacchelli
SATURDAY, APRIL 1
9:00 – 9:45
Coffee, bagels & donuts at The Calandra Institute
10:00 – 11:15
Chair: Anthony Tamburri
Rémi Lanzoni, Wake Forest University, “Re-visiting the De Santis Archive at Wake Forest University”
Francesco Samarini, Indiana University, “Due esiliati: Giuseppe De Santis racconta Ovidio”
Antonio Carlo Vitti, Luci e Ombre, “Il lungo silenzio di un indiscreto regista di campagna”
11:20 – 13:00
Daniela Privitera, Istituto d'istruzione superiore “Mario Rapisardi” presenta il progetto sul cinema di De Santis sviluppato dagli studenti del 'Mario Rapisardi.
13:15 – 14:30
14:40 – 15:30
Chair: Antonio C. Vitti
Sebastiano Lucci, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, “La musica diegetica nell'opera di De Santis”
Andrea D’Ambrosio, Regista, “Peppe De Santis un Maestro oltre il cinema.”
15:40 – 16:00
16:10 - 17:30
I fratelli Rocca
Suoneranno brani tratti dai film di De Santis
I fratelli Antonio e Benedetto Rocca sono entrambi nati in Italia a Sora in provincia di Frosinone, Antonio il 5 aprile del 1973 e Benedetto Il 26 luglio del 1975. Artisticamente si sono sempre chiamati con lo pseudonimo 'fratelli Rocca'. Hanno iniziato a studiare musica da bambini e da subito la loro passione è stata la fisarmonica. Stranamente questa passione nacque in loro agli inizi degli anni ottanta, proprio quando la fisarmonica sembrava essere definitivamente tramontata o rimasta limitata ad un repertorio folk e popolare italiano. Gli studi musicali li hanno condotti privatamente sotto la guida del Maestro Carlesimo, autodidatta per quanto riguarda la tecnica fisarmonicistica, ma studente di armonia e teoria del compositore Samuele Pagano. Il repertorio formativo dei 'fratelli Rocca' è stato scelto tra quello classico per fisarmonica con studi e pezzi che vanno dal repertorio popolare e folk alle elaborazioni delle sinfonie e delle arie del repertorio rossiniano e anche moderno, come i pezzi del compositore Riverberi suonato da 'Rondò Veneziano'. Gli studi musicali hanno anche riguardato l'armonia, la composizione e la tecnica per la fisarmonica a bassi sciolti.
I fratelli Rocca, hanno iniziato gli spettacoli all'età rispettivamente di 14 e 12 anni, con il duo di fisarmoniche, portando all'attenzione del pubblico in varie manifestazioni in Italia centrale e in zone prevalentemente turistiche il repertorio classico della fisarmonica, eseguito con l'elaborazione e gli arrangiamenti dei brani improntati con uno stile proprio così da non confondersi mai con gli esecutori con uno stile ‘classico’ della fisarmonica.
La fine degli anni ottanta e gli inizi degli anni novanta hanno riportato alla ribalta, in molte zone d'Italia, la canzone popolare, il repertorio napoletano, il ballo e quindi il liscio. Il duo non si è lasciato sorprendere da questa 'novità' dei generi musicali richiesti e ha cominciato a eseguire negli spettacoli anche questo repertorio. Ben presto si è intuito che era necessario, per completare le performances, introdurre la voce e il canto. Dopo centinaia e centinaia di spettacoli, finalmente nel 1997 si è aperta la possibilità di potersi esibire negli States e suonare per le numerose comunità italiane residenti. Quindi il 1998 anche in Canada, nel 2000 Francia e Irlanda e nel 2008 in Portogallo. Da allora con cadenza periodica non si fanno mancare questi appuntamenti all'estero. Sin dall'inizio della loro esperienza musicale hanno collaborato con vari artisti, chitarristi, sassofonisti, fisarmonicisti, cantanti e presentatori per la realizzazione di ogni genere di spettacolo e intrattenimento. Hanno registrato e prodotto alcune cassette ('98 e '99) e cd's con esibizioni live soprattutto del repertorio napoletano e folk; molto richiesto dagli italoamericani. Attualmente in Italia suonano in trio con il cantante percussionista Tony Cardone. Oltre a varie altre attività 'the Rocca Bros' (così chiamati negli Stati Uniti e in Irlanda) insegnano musica e la fisarmonica a ragazzi e ragazze.
17:30 – 18:45
SATURDAY, APRIL 1
Giuseppe De Santis,
A documentary by Carlo Lizzani
Presented by Leonardo Cabrini
Giuseppe De Santis (Fondi 1917 – Rome 1997)
Unlike many new directors of his time De Santis’s cinematic career began when his name was already well known and under the auspices of the Italian Left, one of the most influential cultural forces in post-war Italy. He conceived of cinema as a means of giving voice to the lower classes, workers, peasants and the humble; people at the margins of society, victims of exploitation. With his debut as director of Caccia tragica (1947; Tragic Pursuit), a story about the struggle of peasants to regain control of land devastated by the war, he became a significant force in the neorealist movement, distinguishing himself as a staunch filmmaker who would create a populist version of cinema with the scope of changing and shaping society. With his second film; Riso amaro (1949, Bitter Rice) he achieved world recognition with a nomination for an Oscar for best original story in 1950. The film was also the fifth most profitable film released in Italy and was distributed internationally, including the former Socialist block. The film’s melodramatic aspects and the physical charm of the young actress, Silvana Mangano, overshadowed the political messages of the film which were dismissed by dogmatic critics and by the moralistic judgments of the Vatican. Mangano’s sensuality and her rise to stardom have contributed to the erroneous association between her role in De Santis’ film and that performed by the so-called “maggiorate fisiche,” naturally endowed actresses, which marked the return to the star system of Italian cinema in the fifties.
De Santis’ condemnation of injustices is clearer with Non c’ è pace tra gli ulivi (1950; No Peace among the Olive-Trees) and Roma ore 11 (1952; Rome, 11 O’clock). When the two films were released right wing critics carried out a defamatory campaign against De Santis and for the latter film, the Parliament proposed investigating possible illegal funds from enemy communist countries. De Santis’ position would worsen during the apogee of the Cold War when the Italian film industry created an unofficial blacklist, following the model of the House Committee for Un-American Activities for Hollywood artists suspected of communist association. The newly reconstructed Italian film industry depended on state funding that demanded a more optimistic type of film with milder socio-political criticisms. In this hostile milieu De Santis opted for Giorni d’amore (1954; Days of Love) and Un marito per Anna Zaccheo (1953; A Husband for Anna Zaccheo), two love stories instead of his projects on the peasants’ land occupation in Southern Italy and on the killing of unarmed peasants by Salvatore Giuliano’s gang in Portella delle Ginetre in Sicily. In 1955 he made Uomini e lupi (Men and Wolves) a cinematic fable on mythological figures of a vanishing rural world but in order to continue his films on Southern Italian underdevelopment and unemployment he went to the former Yugoslavia to film; Cesta Duga Godinu Dana/La strada lunga un anno (1958; The One-Year Long Road) , which ironically received an Oscar nomination as a Yugoslavian film and the Gold Globe award by American Critics for best foreign film. His return to filmmaking in Italy produced La garconnière (1960; The Love-Nest) and Un apprezzato professionista di sicuro avvenire (1972; A Respected Professional with a Bright Future) which marked De Santis’s retirement from cinema. The new international collaboration between the ex-USSR and the USA allowed De Santis to film in the Ukraine, Italiani brava gente (1964; March On or Die), on the army sent by Mussolini to invade Russia as Hitler’s ally.
De Santis’ films fall within the two main categories of postwar Italian cinema. In one the attempt to document everyday life or past events dominates, in the other, adept showmanship seeks to dramatize reality. Although closer to the second category, De Santis’ films never give up the ideal of cinema as a vehicle for and an expression of social and political loyalty. His final goal was to create cinematic spectacles which would prompt or propose forms of social behavior based on human and class solidarity by denouncing injustices. His artistic and socio-political concerns were integral to his effort to heighten the artistic awareness of the uneducated masses. In his films he tried to develop simple passions using uncomplicated metaphors to stimulate the spectators’ reaction and to force them out of passive contemplation. His dream was to create a national cinema that could introduce elements of higher culture in a popular media to fill the cultural vacuum left by elitist Italian traditional culture and also to reduce the American cultural hegemony.
He did not compromise his principles and political agenda even during the sixties when it became hard for him to find producers willing to finance his populist stories. The audience, once accustomed to realist stories on hunger or on how to secure temporary jobs, wanted films on the new problems of a modern nation with rising living standards. He tried to make films in the new Spaghetti Western Style under the pseudonym Joe Santos but refused the producers’ demand that he use his real name. He wanted his name to remain associated with a genuine popular narrative style that had at one time attracted a mass audience with moving plots, epic breadth, and popular themes.
In spite of this contribution he is often remembered as one of the first Italian postwar filmmaker to have restored the star system in the Italian film industry.
His films are plagued by criticisms of his heterodoxical approach to Neorealism which juxtaposed committed political subject-matter, flamboyant eroticism and a baroque decadent style combined with a Hollywood inspired mise-en-scène. Nonetheless they show an outstanding technical ability and a passion for formalized beauty and sensuality.
For De Santis, Neorealism was the result of a specific historical moment, the Resistance, in which the working class entered as protagonist of its own destiny to win freedom and to demand the right to its own aspirations. These historical events captured by various directors changed cinema, making it no longer a medium for the middleclass but a medium of the people. He also focused on the role of the medium itself as a mean of mass communication and as repository of collective imagination. De Santis’ project was to continue this type of cinema and to create a national cinema in which the transfiguration of reality was more than the simple reproduction of facts and events His films feature common people in conflict with the power structure and the storylines are embellished with continual inter-textual references to pop culture and literary sources, features that make his films the most-self conscious works of neorealism.
Born in Fondi, a small town in the southern part of the Latium region, De Santis at the age of seventeen is sent to a Catholic boarding-school in Rome. A year later he attends the Liceo Classico Giulio Cesare. After graduation he enrolls at the University of Rome to study humanities and then without finishing his degree, enrolls in the Italian film school, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, where he studies with professors Umberto Barbaro, Luigi Chiarini and German critic Rudolf Arnheim. He graduates in 1942 with a short film La gatta (The Cat) based on a story that he had written. That same year with the help of Gianni Puccini he starts to write film reviews and becomes one of the promoters of the renewal of Italian cinema. In his main writings for Cinema, the most important pre-Second World War Italian film journal, he calls for realism not as a passive obeisance to a static and objective truth but as a creative force. The experience with the journal culminates in the making of Ossessione (1942: Obsession) directed by Luchino Visconti, one of the leaders of the group, as one of his assistant directors. The film is still considered a transgression against the dominant Fascist culture. In 1944 he becomes involved in the resistance movement against Nazi-Fascism and after the liberation of Italy he works as assistant director on the first films on the Italian Resistance with Aldo Vergano, Il sole sorge ancora (1946; The Sun Rises Again) and Scalo merci (1943; Freight Yard), started by Roberto Rossellini and finished by Marcello Pagliero under the new title Desiderio (1943; Desire). In 1944 De Santis works on the creation of two of the first documentaries filmed on the Italian Resistance: Giorni di gloria (1944; Days of Glory) and La nostra guerra (1944; Our War). The former is the product of a collaboration between Marcello Pagliero, Luchino Visconti, Mario Serandei and De Santis with the commentary written by critic Umberto Barbaro. The later consists of three episodes that recount the trial of Pietro Caruso, police chief of Rome during the German occupation and his subsequent trial and execution along with Pietro Roch, his collaborator. It ends with the reconstruction of Italy by the progressive forces. After having made eleven films, in 1972, De Santis’ name vanishes or as he says, he is forced out of film production. In the eighties, he teaches film directing at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome. In 1989 he makes his first tour in the United States of America. In the summer of 1990 he teaches filmmaking at Middlebury College for the summer session of the Italian School, where in 1993 he makes his first video: Ciao, ciao Middlebury. In 1997 he shoots: Oggi è un altro giorno (Today is Another Day) a return to the Italian Resistance, his last work behind a camera. In 1997 he dies of a heart attack in a Roman hospital.
Caccia tragica (Tragic Pursuit), 1947
Riso amaro (Bitter Rice), 1949
Non c'è pace tra gli ulivi (No Peace Among the Olive-Trees), 1950
Roma ore 11 (Rome, 11 O’ Clock), 1952
Un marito per Anna Zaccheo (A Husband for Anna Zaccheo), 1953
Giorni d'amore (Days of Love), 1954
Uomini e lupi (Men and Wolves) 1956
La strada lunga un anno (The One-Year Long Road), 1958
La garçonnière (The Love-Nest),1964
Italiani brava gente (March On or Die), 1964
Un apprezzato professionista di sicuro avvenire (A Respected Professional with a Bright Future),1972.
Ciao, ciao Middlebury (Good-bye Middlebury), 1993
Oggi è un altro giorno (Today is Another Day), 1995.
Marco Grossi, Virginio Palazzo (editor),Caccia tragica. Un inizio strepitoso, collana “Quaderni dell’Associazione Giuseppe De Santis”, Fondi, 2000
Vito Zagarrio (editor), Non c’è pace tra gli ulivi. Un neorealismo postmoderno, Scuola Nazionale di Cinema - Associazione Giuseppe De Santis, Quaderni della Cineteca, Roma, 2002
Marco Grossi, Virginio Palazzo (editor), Riso amaro nel fuoco delle polemiche, collana "Quaderni dell'Associazione Giuseppe De Santis", Fondi, 2003
Giovanni Spagnoletti, Marco Grossi (editor), Giorni d'amore. Un film di Giuseppe De Santis tra impegno e commedia, Torino: Lindau - Associazione Giuseppe De Santis, 2004.
Camerino, Vincenzo, Il cinema di Giuseppe De Santis, Lecce: Elle Edizione, 1987
Farassino, Alberto, Giuseppe De Santis, Milano: Moizzi Editore, 1978
Giampiero Cleopazzo, Il neorealismo di Giuseppe De Santis, Galantina: Editrice Salentina, 1980
Grossi, Marco e Spagnoletti, Giovanni (editors), Dossier: Giuseppe De Santis - l’escluso, in Close-Up, Anno 1 – n. 2 - settembre 1997 cinema di Venezia
Lizzani, Carlo, Riso amaro: un film diretto da Giuseppe De Santis, Roma: Edizioni Officina, 1978
Marcus, Millicent, De Santis' "Bitter Rice": a Neorealist Hybrid, in Italian Film in the Llight of Neorealism, Princeton: University Press, 1986
Masi, Stefano, Giuseppe De Santis, Firenze: La Nuova Italia, 1982
Micciché, Lino, De Santis e la “trilogia della terra”, in La ragione e lo sguardo, Cosenza: Lerici, 1979
Parisi, Antonio, Il cinema di Giuseppe De Santis tra passione e ideologia, Roma: Cadmo Editore, 1983
Vitti, Antonio, Giuseppe De Santis and Postwar Italian Cinema, Toronto: UPT, 1996
Wagner, Jean, Giuseppe De Santis. Dossiers du cinéma, in Cinéastes II, Bruxelles: Casterman, 1971.