Day 1 – Arrival
Left the house by taxi at 3am and met the National Express coach to Stansted at Ipswich Rail Station, arriving quite early at the airport for the morning flight to Bologna.
Whilst standing in line to board the flight I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked round to see a smiling, Scott Foundas. It was great to see Scott, who this time last year had not yet taken up his new post at Amazon as Film Acquisitions and Development Executive. It was really interesting to hear how he’s getting on in his new role.
We shared a taxi from the airport in Bologna to our designated hotels and parted company. After checking in I headed for the Cineteca to collect my badge and programme. In the space of a few short minutes I had already bumped into Geoff Gardner, Tony Rayns, Kevin Brownlow, Antti Alanen, Lee Tsiantis, Dennis Doros, Peter Hourigan, Mark Cosgrove (Bristol Watershed) and Anthony Nield (Arrow Films).
My first and only film of the day was Bertrand Tavernier’s 195mins documentary, JOURNEY THROUGH FRENCH CINEMA, introduced by the director. The film was a personal remembrance and account of the films he encountered while growing up in France along with segments on certain actors, soundtrack composers etc. Tavernier’s weaved an enchanting tale without feeling the need to lecture us on the history of French Cinema, but guides us the viewer through films that meant something to him throughout his life. I am told the version screened is somewhat shorter than the 5 X 50mins episodes broadcast on French television and that he has plans to make a second part.
Breakfast was shared with Aussies Peter Hourigan, Michael Campi, Ken Wallin and then later joined by Geoff and Tony. Whilst eating breakfast it was nice to briefly chat with Anna Von Bagh and her partner, Miguel.
First film of the day was William Wyler’s, A HOUSE DIVIDED, made in 1931. The film starred Walter Huston, Helen Chandler and Kent Douglass (later to be known as Douglass Montgomery). Whilst the screenplay is a little “clunky” at times, the film is actually very stylish and a lot of tropes from the recently ended silent-era are still visible. The framing at times is quite exquisite and the scene with Huston paralysed from the waist down, crawling on his hands across the floor of his house, very disturbing and would not look out of place in a horror film of the time. But it is the film’s stormy, windswept climax that leaves you on the edge of your seat and brings the film to a dramatic conclusion.
Next up was another Wyler film in Dave Kehr’s programme, UNIVERSAL PICTURES: THE LAEMMLE JR YEARS. The film was THE GOOD FAIRY made in 1935 and starring Margaret Sullavan, Herbert Marshall and Frank Morgan. The film was a real discovery for me, a hoot and with an incredibly witty and punchy screenplay from Preston Sturges.
After a short break for lunch, I went along to see Hitchcock’s, MARNIE. Screening here in the TECHNICOLOR & CO strand. It was a vintage print but in fine shape and the colours all looking as fresh as when the film was made back in 1964. It was my first experience of seeing this on the big screen and for that reason alone, I think it highlighted to me just how ridiculously silly the story is with all its cod psychology. However, that said, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it again and still found it very entertaining. Surely Herrmann’s second most beautifully romantic score after, VERTIGO.
Final film of the day for me was Jacques Becker’s little-seen 1945 film, FALBALAS. A very well directed tale of romance in the fashion industry shot during the German occupation under extreme circumstances. I was clearly in the minority as I found the film rather too intense and difficult to engage with any of the characters, whereas my dinner companions later that evening were clearly very much in awe of the film.