The head of the venerable Il Cinema Ritrovato festival and new president of the Rome Film Fest, Gianluca Farinelli, opened on 10e edition of the Classic Film Market of the Lumière Festival.
Kicking off the keynote, Farinelli was asked how he balances his love of classic cinema with his new role leading the Rome Film Festival, which runs Oct. 13.–23.
“Basically what touches me with heritage films, my passion and my love for this cinema, is that sometimes it can speak to you as if the creator were contemporary,” said Farinelli. “I have never considered contemporary and classic cinema separately, I have always seen them as a whole. I love cinema from all eras,” added the man who co-founded Il Cinema Ritrovato in 1986, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world dedicated to the history and preservation of cinema.
The Cineteca is a foundation made up of two entities: the world-renowned restoration laboratory, Immagine Ritrovata, and the company that manages the three – soon to be four – cinema halls of the cinematheque.
To further distribute its restored classics nationwide, the Bologna Cinematheque took the rare decision a decade ago to create its own dedicated film distribution department, working with a select network of theaters across Italy.
Despite not turning a profit, the distribution company is breaking even, with stable ticket sales over the years – except during the pandemic, when cinemas were closed. “[The distribution side] is important because it is an essential cultural activity to try to educate the public,” said Farinelli.
Asked if Cineteca will develop its own online service, Farinelli declined: “During the pandemic, we created a platform with a limited number of films, which worked well. I seriously thought about developing it, but then I said: we all have our limits. Bringing theater sessions to life already takes a lot of energy. To [develop a platform] takes a lot of time and money, and it’s not our job.
“There is a battle going on and we must not lose the fight for cinemas – if there are no more cinemas, it will be the end of the cinema that we love”, he said. Explain.
Another way Cineteca disseminates heritage cinema is through the continued production of carefully selected DVD gift sets and collectible books.
“It takes a lot of time to put together these catalogs, so we’ve chosen not to edit too many of them,” Farinelli said, citing the example of a recently published book on Charlie Chaplin by Peter Von Bagh, whose translation of the Finnish took eight years.
“We don’t target the mainstream market, but in the long run they find a readership: we publish about 3,000 copies and often print other editions.”
Asked if he sees streaming platforms as a form of competition, Farinelli said: “We saw vinyl disappear…and then they came back! The platforms do not offer an in-depth approach – except Criterion whose work is remarkable. But for people who want to have a beautiful object in hand and more in-depth content, [our catalogues and DVDs] will continue to exist. »
As for the Cinematheque’s future and relationship with Hollywood, Farinelli said there have been a lot of changes in recent years. “Major studios understood the importance of classic films and had clear restoration policies in place. But today it looks like we’re entering a gray period where we may have to speak loud and clear about the importance of heritage films for the future, and it’s important that directors help us out and express that with force.
“I am not a businessman,” he concluded. “But I am a cultural agitator. And I have no doubt that we are only at the beginning: I am sure that in 100 years, what we have done and what others will do after us will have become the norm. The strength of cinema is to be an art form that can exist both in the present and in the past. The audience will grow and the history of cinema will be completely rewritten.
The MIFC takes place in Lyon until October 23.