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Monday, 11 July 2016

Bologna Diary (17) - Clyde Jeavons explains the spirit of the world's great venue for the art of of film history and restoration

Clyde Jeavons is a former director of the British National Film Archive and was for many years the London Film Festival's programmer of restorations and revivals. Following an earlier post on Film Alert 101 which you can find at http://filmalert101.blogspot.com.au/2016/07/bologna-diary-12-restorations.htm Clyde sent in the comments below in response to the question how has Bologna happened.

The big sea-change at Bologna, I believe, was when the Cineteca (in the 1990s?) abandoned the old Lumière fleapit and the eccentric L-shaped public cinema on Montegrappa and built their extended, bespoke archival centre with its spacious library, lecture theatre and two new auditoria (designed, perversely, to imitate the original Lumière), and began to make use of the glorious, plushly comfortable Arlecchino for its major screenings, as well as - more recently - the less than glorious Jolly with its hopeless sightlines.  Bologna was suddenly no longer a niche-nerd festival competing with Pordenone, but an attractive venue for more eclectic archival work and for presenting restorations of mainstream and classic movies as well as specialist rediscoveries. At the same time, the Cineteca went public with its al fresco night-time screenings by taking them out of the exclusive little courtyard where they used to be and putting them into the Piazza Maggiore: a very shrewd parochial move. All this coincided with the Hollywood studios, such as Columbia and Warner, embarking on their own belated restoration programmes on the one hand, and the Cineteca enhancing its own laboratory facilities - 'L'Immagine' - to meet the new demand for restoration work on the other. For a number of reasons - not least the traditional attractions of Italy, both cultural and culinary - the big players started to see Bologna as a prime showcase for their latest back-catalogue restorations. 

And then there was the Cineteca's major coup of getting Martin Scorsese on board as its high-profile patron through his World Cinema Project, based at the 'L'Immagine' laboratory. 

Now, of course, the price is being paid: too many delegates and an overcrowded programme - there was a lot of grumbling this year from programmers who couldn't get into the screenings of their choice, and there was far too much standing-room only. The Festival organisers also seemed more than a little stressed. Perhaps Gian Luca, Guy, etc., should address this problem (of being victims of their own success) before it's too late - one would hate to see a backlash. 

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