Amy Boylan and Nicole Gercke

Amy Boylan, Associate Professor of Italian Studies (COLA) ~ Italy

Nicole Gercke, Lecturer in Italian Studies (COLA) ~ Italy

 

(l. to r.) Nicole Gerck and Amy Boylan in Bologna city center
(l. to r.) Nicole Gerck and Amy Boylan in Bologna city center

Italian Studies faculty members Amy Boylan and Nicole Gercke traveled to Bologna, Italy, in Summer 2018 to explore an institutional relationship with the Cineteca di Bologna with a three-fold purpose: to create and support research opportunities for UNH faculty, to create and support study abroad and internship opportunities for UNH students, and to establish UNH and Seacoast New Hampshire as one of the very few U.S. hosts of the Cineteca’s annual traveling film festival.

The Cineteca di Bologna, one of Europe’s most important centers of film restoration, is home to extensive archives, including collections dedicated to Charlie Chaplin and Pier Paolo Pasolini. In addition to the activities of its conservation and restoration laboratory, which can be credited with restoring hundreds of films—including Chaplin’s The Kid, Murnau’s Nosferatu, Soviet films of the 1920s, and Wenders’ Paris, Texas—and whose restored films have been included in the prestigious Criterion Collection, the Cineteca boasts numerous educational and professional development opportunities for students, scholars and industry professionals. Their workshop and course offerings include technical training in filmmaking, business training for managing arthouse movie theaters, “Film Restoration Summer School,” and courses on cinema history aimed at transforming students (elementary through university) into informed, critical viewers of cinematic texts.

The Cineteca’s annual 10-day film festival, Il Cinema Ritrovato (Rediscovered Cinema), provides access to rare and restored, classic and cult films from the archives, which contain films ranging from the silent to the contemporary eras. The festival, founded in 1986, takes place in Bologna every summer and screens an impressive lineup of close to 500 Italian and international films at venues around the city, including outdoors in the city’s main square, Piazza Maggiore, which is transformed into a 2,000-seat open-air theater throughout the summer.

The underground Cinema Modernissimo, currently under restoration but opened for festival showings of WOLVES OF KULTUR (1918)

The underground Cinema Modernissimo, currently under restoration but opened for festival showings of WOLVES OF KULTUR (1918)

Amy and Nicole attended the Cinema Ritrovato festival and viewed a wide selection of films, ranging from Divorce Italian Style (Germi, 1961) in the open-air theater of Piazza Maggiore to the romantic comedy What a Woman! (Blasetti, 1956), starring Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren, to numerous silent films with live musical accompaniment. Some of our favorites included the World-War-I-era American serial Wolves of Kultur (Golden, 1918) and a children’s program of experimental animated films made between 1908 and 2013. We also discussed the possibility and logistics of bringing the Cinema Ritrovato OnTour to UNH and the Seacoast in the spring of 2019 – as only the fourth location in the US – with Guy Borlée, the festival coordinator, and Prof. Massimo Riva, who co-coordinates the CR OnTour at Brown University.

Amy and Nicole also used their time in Bologna to identify resources, including museums, cultural centers, monuments, and events that could be incorporated into courses offered through a UNH study abroad summer program currently under development. These courses intend to address topics such as the role of the University of Bologna (Europe’s oldest university, founded in 1088) in the city’s history and development; technological and medical research that has taken place at the university and in the city (ground-breaking advances in the early study of electricity and anatomy, for example, and in wireless technologies); the city’s reputation for political engagement (e.g., Partisan Resistance to Nazi/Fascism during WWII and the student movements of the 1970s); and the region’s reputation for having some of the best food in Italy (Parmesan cheese, prosciutto, and balsamic vinegar are just a few local delicacies). While carrying out our research, we visited the Museum of Science, the Anatomical Theater, the Museum of the Resistance, the Medieval Museum, The Museum of Modern Art (MAMBO), numerous churches, Eataly, the bustling city food markets, public gardens, and generally explored the city, famous for its portico-lined streets and architectural variety. We also met with current study abroad program directors at other universities to discuss potential office space and lodging for the students.

The baroque Santuario di San Luca, perched above the city and reachable by a 2-mile-long stairway covered by Bologna’s famous porticoes
The baroque Santuario di San Luca, perched above the city and reachable by a 2-mile-long stairway covered by Bologna’s famous porticoes

There was also a chance for Amy to take stock of some of the Cineteca’s collection of silent films relevant to her project on Italian films about World War I produced in the years surrounding the war, including Il Bacio della Gloria (1913), Febbre di Gloria (Righelli, 1916), and Mariute (Bencivenga, 1918), all held in the Cineteca’s collection. Additionally, and importantly, the festival program allowed her to view the Italian films she is focusing on in an international context through its screenings of The Wolves of Kultur and Vendémiaire (Feuillade, 1918), as well as other fragments of films not widely available to the general public. Hopefully an institutional partnership between UNH and the Cineteca, as well as future faculty-led study abroad opportunities in Bologna, will afford not only Amy, but other UNH faculty who focus on cinema studies, to conduct further research there.

We are very grateful to UNH Global for this grant, and came away from our trip having made significant progress towards all three objectives, all of which was made possible thanks to the opportunity to explore Bologna in-person and meet with representatives of the Cineteca and future collaborators. We look forward to continuing to develop this relationship between UNH and the Cineteca di Bologna!