Monday, December 30, 2013

Major Pasolini film series coming to the Cinematheque

[Press release from the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

     Italy’s late, great writer and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini will be the subject of a near-complete retrospective at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque in January and February. Sixteen of Pasolini’s movies—most in restored new 35mm film prints from Italy—will show in the Cinematheque’s series “Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur,” taking place in the Aitken Auditorium of the Cleveland Institute of Art, 11141 East Boulevard in University Circle. The series stretches from Pasolini’s first feature ACCATTONE (1961) to his scandalous final film SALÒ, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (1975), and includes such masterpieces as THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW (1964) and TEOREMA (1968) and films starring Anna Magnani, Totò, Franco Citti, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Silvana Mangano, Maria Callas, and others. Admission to each program is $12; Cinematheque members $9; age 25 & under $7.
     Susan Sontag once called Pier Paolo Pasolini "indisputably the most remarkable figure to have emerged in Italian arts and letters since the Second World War." Pasolini (1922-1975) was already a successful (if scandalous) poet, novelist, and essayist when he began directing movies. Born in Bologna in 1922, the son of a military officer, Pasolini repudiated his father's fascist leanings in three major ways. He embraced Marxism and championed Italy's underclass. He rejected the Church and became an atheist (though an atheist fascinated by God, and sympathetic with the human need for religious belief). And he lived openly as a homosexual.

     These aspects of his character are clearly visible in his films. Pasolini's early movies, which are populated by non-professional actors, are pitiless portraits of pimps, prostitutes, thieves, hustlers, and other outcasts living on the margins of society. Later films tackle faith, the Church, and religion—both Christianity and the paganism of the ancient world.  His final films are wildly libidinous (teeming with sexual couplings of various persuasions) and often sacrilegious and scatological. Yet throughout his checkered filmmaking career, Pasolini remained a poet—one whose searing slices of life and sardonic satires never failed to ruffle the feathers of officialdom. Though attacked by some as a blasphemer, he always celebrated the sacredness of ordinary people and the everyday world; "religion" had nothing to add to his reverential outlook.
     Regrettably, Pasolini's sensational death in 1975—he was murdered by a 17-year-old hustler whom he had allegedly propositioned—overshadowed much of his life. His enemies saw his shocking demise as the logical end to a depraved and degenerate existence. But his friends doubted the "facts" surrounding his sudden death. Three decades after the crime, Pasolini's convicted killer recanted his confession, saying he was merely the fall guy for a gang of right-wing thugs who really did the deed. To many, the case remains unsolved to this day. And somehow it seems fitting that someone as brilliant, mercurial, contradictory, and polarizing as Pasolini could  still spark controversy almost 40 years after his burial.
     Free parking for filmgoers is available in the adjacent Cleveland Institute of Art lot, located off of East Boulevard. For further information, call John Ewing or Tim Harry at (216) 421-7450, email, or visit
     “Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur” is co-produced by Luce Cinecittà, Rome, and Fondo Pier Paolo Pasolini/Cineteca di Bologna. The exhibition is organized by Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero, Luce Cinecittà, with Roberto Chiesi, Fondo Pier Paolo Pasolini/Cineteca di Bologna. It is presented in association with the Ministry of Culture of Italy. Special thanks to The Italian Cultural Institute. This series is part of the celebrations of the Year of the Italian Culture in the U.S.  All copies are 35mm, in Italian with English subtitles, and realized by Luce Cinecittà, unless otherwise noted. The series is presented in Cleveland with the support of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Ohio Arts Council.
“Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur”
SAT        1/11       5:00 PM                ACCATTONE
SUN       1/12       3:30 PM                MAMMA ROMA
SAT        1/18       5:00 PM                THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW
SUN       1/19       3:45 PM                THE HAWKS AND THE SPARROWS
SAT        1/25       5:00 PM                TEOREMA (THEOREM)
SUN       1/26       4:00 PM                OEDIPUS REX
SAT        2/1         5:00 PM                PIGSTY
SUN       2/2         4:00 PM                MEDEA
SAT        2/8         5:15 PM                NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTES
SUN       2/9         4:00 PM                THE DECAMERON
SAT        2/15       5:15 PM                LA RICOTTA & WHAT ARE THE CLOUDS?
SAT        2/15       9:05 PM                THE WITCHES
SUN       2/16       3:45 PM                THE CANTERBURY TALES
SUN       2/16       6:30 PM                THE WITCHES
SAT        2/22       9:45 PM                SALÒ, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM
SUN       2/23       3:45 PM                ARABIAN NIGHTS
Saturday, January 11, at 5:00 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Print!
Italy, 1961, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pasolini’s sympathy for Italy’s underclass and his preference for non-professional actors can be seen in this, his first film. Set in a squalid section of Rome, the movie focuses on an impoverished young ne’er-do-well (“accattone” or “scrounger’) who scrapes together a paltry living as a pimp and petty thief. Film debut of Franco Citti (The Godfather). Subtitles. 120 min.
Sunday, January 12, at 3:30 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Print!
Italy, 1962, Pier Paolo Pasolini
A middle-aged prostitute (the great Anna Magnani) tries to distance herself from her sordid past for the sake of her teenage son in this moving drama that was originally banned in Italy. Subtitles. 110 min.
Saturday, January 18, at 5:00 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Print!
Italy/France, 1964, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Probably the greatest life of Christ ever filmed! Pasolini turned exclusively to Matthew’s Gospel for this direct, unvarnished life of a radical, activist Jesus. It was shot in Italy in b&w with non-professional actors (including Pasolini’s mother). The magnificent music ranges from Bach to Billie Holiday. “Pasolini’s most satisfying movie.” –Time Out Film Guide. Subtitles. 137 min.
Sunday, January 19, at 3:45 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Print!
Italy, 1966, Pier Paolo Pasolini
In Pasolini’s delightful comic fable, a father (Totò), his son (Ninetto Davoli), and a talking crow embark on a picaresque journey to emulate St. Francis of Assisi and bring the Gospel to the birds. Like The Gospel According to St. Matthew (see 1/18 at 5:00), this is a singular mix of Christianity and Marxism, with a terrific Ennio Morricone score. Subtitles. 91 min.
Saturday, January 25, at 5:00 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Color Print!
Italy, 1968, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Terence Stamp stars in one of Pasolini’s greatest and most enigmatic films. Stamp plays a mysterious man who moves in with a wealthy Italian family and proceeds to seduce everyone in the household—from the maid to family members of both sexes and different generations. With Silvana Mangano, Laura Betti, Ninetto Davoli, and Anne Wiazemsky. Music by Ennio Morricone. “[Pasolini’s] most perfect fusion of Marxism and religion…A film that is both political allegory and mystical fable.” –Time Out Film Guide. Subtitles. 105 min.
Sunday, January 26, at 4:00 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Color Print!
Italy/Morocco, 1967, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pasolini’s rendition of Sophocles’ tragedy (about a man who unknowingly marries his mother) straddles both 20th-century Italy and the ancient world. Franco Citti (Accattone), Silvana Mangano, Alida Valli, and Julian Beck star in this color rarity, which boasts stunning cinematography of the Moroccan desert. Subtitles. 104 min.
Saturday, February 1, at 5:00 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Color Print!
Italy/France, 1969, Pier Paolo Pasolini
According to The Time Out Film Guide, Pigsty “is not only an exquisitely revolting satire, it is also Pasolini’s most fascinating piece of cinema.” A kind of warm-up for his even more unsavory Salò, Pigsty tells two outré stories about consumption. One, set during the Middle Ages, follows a cannibalistic bandit; the other, set during Germany’s post-WWII “economic miracle,” focuses on the affluent son of an ex-Nazi industrialist who grows unnaturally enamored of pigs. The all-star Euro-counterculture cast includes Jean-Pierre Léaud, filmmaker Marco Ferreri, Ugo Tognazzi, Pierre Clémenti, Franco Citti, Anne Wiazemsky, and Ninetto Davoli. No one under 18 admitted! Subtitles. 99 min.
Sunday, February 2, at 4:00 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Color Print!
Italy/France/W. Germany, 1969, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Legendary opera diva Maria Callas makes her only screen appearance in Pasolini's “primitive” version of Euripides' tragedy. Callas proves an imposing, imperious presence as the "barbarian" sorceress who becomes Jason's wife, then wreaks terrible revenge when he betrays her. Subtitles. 110 min.
Saturday, February 8, at 5:15 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Print!
Italy, 1970, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pasolini's documentary captures his preparations for an Africa-set film version of the Ancient Greek play Orestes (about a man who kills his mother). Though the movie was never made, the documentary survives as a fascinating time capsule of 1970 Africa and as a portrait of Pasolini himself. With jazz great Gato Barbieri. "Key to an understanding of the particular Freudian-Marxist-Christian worldview that was Pasolini's." -J. Hoberman. Subtitles. 70 min.
Sunday, February 9, at 4:00 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Color Print!
Italy/France/W. Germany, 1971, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Giovanni Boccaccio's ribald medieval tales of love, lust, sex, deceit, malefaction, and murder are rollickingly, bawdily brought to the screen in the first part of Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Trilogy of Life" (three adults-only films based on three celebrated story cycles). Franco Citti, Ninetto Davoli, and Pasolini himself star. Music by Ennio Morricone. The trilogy continues with The Canterbury Tales and Arabian Nights on the next two Sundays. No one under 18 admitted! Subtitles. 111 min.
Saturday, February 15, at 5:15 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Print!
Italy/France, 1963, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Originally included in the four-part anthology film Ro.Go.Pa.G. (with segments directed by ROssellini, GOdard, PAsolini, and Gregoretti), this 35-min. movie is one of Pasolini’s key works. A funny but scabrous attack on institutional Christianity, the film was seized by authorities for “insulting the religion of the state” and Pasolini spent four months in prison for making it. Orson Welles stars in the movie (the title refers to ricotta cheese), playing a pompous film director shooting a biblical epic about the death of Jesus. But he is callously oblivious to the plight of the poor, starving extras who are acting in his Passion play. La Ricotta will be preceded at 5:15 by What Are the Clouds? (Che cosa sono le nuvole?), Pasolini’s segment from the 1968 omnibus film Capriccio All' Italiana, in which Totò and Ninetto Davoli play puppets who comes to life. 35mm color & scope print! Subtitles. Total 57 min.
Saturday, February 15, at 9:05 pm &
Sunday, February 16, at 6:30 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Italy/France, 1966, Mauro Bolognini, Vittorio De Sica, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Franco Rossi, Luchino Visconti
Five major Italian filmmakers—including Pasolini, De Sica, and Visconti—contribute segments to this five-part rarity that does not deal with witches of the supernatural variety. Silvana Mangano stars in all five episodes, playing everything from a famous movie star to an unhelpful good Samaritan. She is supported in individual stories by other famous actors: Alberto Sordi, Totò, and even a very young Clint Eastwood! Pasolini’s amusing 30-min. segment, The Earth as Seen from the Moon (La Terra Vista Dalla Luna) with Totò, Ninetto Davoli, and Laura Betti, follows a widowed father and his son as they search for a new wife and mother. Music by Ennio Morricone. Subtitles. 35mm. 105 min.
Sunday, February 16, at 3:45 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Color Print!
Italy/France, 1972, Pier Paolo Pasolini
The second part of Pasolini's sexy, scatological, slapstick-laden "Trilogy of Life" (see 2/9 at 4 pm) finds an all-star cast (Pasolini, Franco Citti, Laua Betti, Hugh Griffith, Tom Baker, et al.) bringing some of Chaucer's randy tales of horny students, willing wives, and clueless old men to exuberant life. The director takes liberties with some stories. Music by Ennio Morricone. No one under 18 admitted! Subtitles. 123 min.
Saturday, February 22, at 9:45 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Color Print!
Italy/France, 1975, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pasolini's notorious final film (made before his brutal 1975 murder) is one of the most controversial, revolting, and disturbing movies ever made. Transposing the Marquis de Sade's 1785 novel to Mussolini's Italy, the film is set at a palatial villa where beautiful young people are humiliated, abused, and tortured by sadistic and powerful members of the upper class. Intended as a parable about fascism, it's an explicit, dispiriting downer and remains banned in several countries even to this day. Michael Haneke regards it as one of the ten best movies ever made. No one under 18 admitted! Subtitles. 114 min.
Sunday, February 23, at 3:45 pm
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poet and Provocateur
Imported New 35mm Color Print!
Italy/France, 1974, Pier Paolo Pasolini
The final part of Pasolini's "Trilogy of Life" (see 2/9 at 4 pm) is the longest and most intricate. Filmed in Yemen, Eritrea, Iran, and Nepal, this opulent work follows a young man as he searches for his beloved slave girl who has been kidnaped. But this main narrative is dissected and amplified by a series of other erotic tales. With Ninetto Davoli and Franco Citti; music by Ennio Morricone. No one under 18 admitted! Subtitles. 130 min.

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