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The Past

Film Textbook: Italian Neorealist Cinema

This section will chart the cinematic movement of Italian neorealism. It will present its theoretical framework and describe the processes of searching for a more veracious portrayal of “reality” and refocusing on the beauty of the world, true nature of things, reality. Italian neorealism was born as a reaction against Nazism, (post)war disillusionment, poverty and pre-war cinema. Though it picked up on the prior discussions, it had to reflect the latest war experience and the related social changes. Thus, the faithful reproduction of reality became a burning issue to all neorealist scholars, screenwriters and film directors.
The section aims to explore the diversity of neorealist theory and filmmaking as well as its stylistic and narrative variations in time. To bring this diversity to the fore, our main focus will be on the works of two directors, Vittorio de Sica (and his collaboration with screenwriter Cesare Zavattini) and Roberto Rossellini. This will be complemented with the alternative cinematic approaches of Giuseppe De Santis. The parallel between De Sica and Rossellini will allow us to discern the differences between their portrayals of reality and changes in interpretive perspectives within a short period of time. Whereas De Sica built surprisingly classic storylines using the shifts of emphasis, Rossellini experimented with episodic narrative, fugacity and changes in settings, time and contexts.
We will experience war with Paisan (1946), investigate a crime with Bicycle Thieves (1948), roam around Berlin with a little boy in Germany Year Zero (1948), dream away with Miracle in Milan (1951), feel joy with The Flowers of St. Francis (1950) or sadness with Umberto D (1952) and taste a bit of a compact approach in Bitter Rice (1949). One background, (mostly) two careers, six years and seven neorealisms.



Radomír D. Kokeš is a film historian, analyst and a lecturer whose aim is to understand films rather than judge them. For almost three decades, he’s been in love with classic, especially silent movies, but he also conducted research on narrative structures of modern Hollywood series. His participation in the Summer Film School festival and his focus on Czech silent cinema bring him back to his roots.

Aleš Říman is a middle-school teacher. At the Summer Film School, he returns to his original domain. He loves genre films, braque or everything made in Italy and he has a complicated but very fruitful relationship to Czechoslovak cinema.

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