Bologna is a city for film buffs, as you’ll notice if you visit the city during late June / Early July when the Sotto Le Stelle Del Cinema festival runs annuallyin Piazza Maggiore. Each year a massive screen is erected in the square, and for the length of the festival there are free public screenings nighly of film classics (usually in the original language with subtitles – which is a rarity in Italy where most films are dubbed).
How many cities can you imagine where the main square is filled with people to watch one of Ken Loach‘s minor films The Navigators (2001), but that’s exactly the sort of thing to expect – along with bigger features. There are guests of honour and introductions before most of the films. World famous directors, like Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso), Roberto Benigni (La Vita é Bella) and Peter Weir (Picnic at Hanging Rock).
Included in the summer long Sotto le Stelle del Cinema is the Cinema Ritrovato festival which highlights classic and restored films from archives in Bologna and worldwide – showing Hollywood movies alongside documentary archives. The festival is a real cinema buff’s paradise. For example, for the 2015 festival (the 29th annual Cinema Ritrovato festival) 427 films, dating from 1895 to today, will be shown in the various cinemas around the city, including the big screen in Piazza Maggiore.
The Cineteca di Bologna is a globally recognised centre of excellence in terms of film studies and archives. It’s home to the important Chaplin Project – an ambitious project, with the approval of the Chaplin Family, to bring back to the big screen restored versions of all Chaplin’s films. The Cineteca hosts a huge archive of over 40,000 films ranging from the Chaplin project through to restored Italian classics like Fellini’s Il Bidone and La Rabia by Pasolini, and much more (for example, The Emilia-Romagna Gramsci Institute Collection).
The Cineteca is a participating member of Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, a project which Scorsese described as “being created to help developing countries preserve their cinematic treasures. We want to help strengthen and support the work of international archives, and provide a resource for those countries lacking the archival and technical facilities to do the work themselves.”
In early summer each year there is another increasingly important film festival in Bologna – the BiograFilm festival, dedicated to Biography as a film genre. The Festival takes place in and around the Cineteca in Via Riva di Reno, and in the Parco del Cavaticcio (between the Cineteca and Bologna’s Mambo (Modern Art Museum), where a vibrant Bio park is setup with food stands, music and film projections. It’s a highlight of Bologna’s Summer.
Bologna also plays host to a very special annual film festival, dedicated to the promotion of Human Rights, organised by the Cineteca Bologna, Comune di Bologna and Università di Bologna. The festival brings important documentaries, film makers and discussions to Bologna annually.
Oscar winning directore Gabriele Salvatores adapted popular crime novel Quo Vadis Baby, set in Bologna, for film back in 2005. It’s a wonderfully dark, moody detective story set amidst Bologna’s porticos. Hollywood, though, has yet to stumble upon Bologna as a location – strangely – but one of Italy’s most famous directors, Pupi Avati, is a local, and many of his films are set in the city or in the surrounding countryside..