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The history of cinema is still hiding a lot of secret universes. Among them, one has been forgotten for many years: Italian silent cinema.
Whole generations have been influenced by its directors, actors and stories. But who knows its origin, its first decades, from 1896 to 1930? That flourishing film-industry gave birth to peplum, let the first stars shine, and many film-makers created their own style thanks to the trends of that time in painting, literature, theatre and opera. In its world of splendor, romantic delirium, taste for decadent poems, music and symbolism, this cinema gained international fame, enthralling crowds, intellectuals and artists from all over Europe and abroad.
The main characters of Decadenza will be all those directors, actors, actresses and critics who contributed to the exuberant originality of that cinema. Among them, the great Giovanni Pastrone, author and manager par excellence, father of the most bizarre bourgeois dramas. But also Elvira Notari, one of the first female directors in the world: her remaining films are burnt by the sun of Naples, of illicit affairs and bloody blades. Then the actresses: Lydia Borelli, Itala Almirante, Pina Menichelli and Francesca Bertini made millions of men dream and were considered dangerous by first psychiatrists. And also, Roberto Roberti, Sergio Leone’s father, who met his wife on set during the shooting of the first Italian western in 1913.
They will be our heroes, as their evocative titles: L’Inferno, Tigre Reale, Il Fuoco, La Serpe… Films that open the door to recurring topics: the crowd, the body, the relationship between men and women, the influence of painting… the emotions released by these films will be at the heart of our work.
Through fragments that fulfill the Film Archives from all over Europe, a whole period of time will emerge with its effects, and the so-called decadantism will be the most palpable feeling: a taste for the sublime, for sophistication, for death. In a contemporary and lyrical way, we will discover the roots of Italian cinema – that was born more than a century ago and it still attracts cinephiles from all over the world – letting this forgotten Atlantide come to light again from the waves of the memory.