FILMADRID & MUBI: The Video Essay—"Telefoni Neri"

A video essay on Italian cinema from the 1950s and 1970s that tell stories about protagonists incapable of communicating with each other.

The Video Essay is a joint project of MUBI and FILMADRID Festival Internacional de Cine. Film analysis and criticism found a completely new and innovative path with the arrival of the video essay, a relatively recent form that already has its own masters and is becoming increasingly popular. The limits of this discipline are constantly expanding; new essayists are finding innovative ways to study the history of cinema working with images. With this non-competitive section of the festival both MUBI and FILMADRID will offer the platform and visibility the video essay deserves. The seven selected works will be shown during the dates of FILMADRID (June 8 - 17, 2017) on MUBI’s cinema publication, the Notebook. Also there will be a free public screening of the selected works during the festival. The selection was made by the programmers of MUBI and FILMADRID.

Telefoni Neri

A video essay by Hannah Leiß

As a reaction to the popular mainstream films that dominated the Italian film industry in the 1930s and 1940s Italian Neorealism arose, followed by other more realistic film making approaches. The popular White telephone films (Cinema dei telefoni bianchi) produced shortly before WW2 imitated American comedies and melodramas telling stories which were in line with the ideology of the fascist regime. Showing the upper class life in Italy with all its bourgeois wealth and modern decor this film genre received the denomination Telefoni Bianchi referring to the frequent appearance of white telephones as status symbols at a time when common people, if at all, had black telephones.

Telefoni Neri (Black Telephones) is a video essay on Italian cinema between the 1950s and 1970s that features black telephones instead of white ones – a kind of cinema that tells stories about deeply troubled protagonists who are utterly incapable of communicating with each other and appear to be all alone in the haunted house that represents their inner self.

Film clips:

  •  L'eclisse by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962
  • La signora senza camelie (The Lady Without Camelias) by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1953
  •  Cronaca di un amore (Story of a Love Affair) by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1950
  •  L'oro di Napoli (The Gold of Naples) by Vittorio De Sica, 1954
  •  La dolce vita by Federico Fellini, 1960
  •  Una giornata particolare (A Special Day) by Ettore Scola, 1977
  •  Siamo donne (We, the Women / Of Life and Love) Episode by Luigi Zampa, 1953
  •  Prima della rivoluzione (Before the Revolution) by Bernardo Bertolucci, 1964
  •  Boccaccio '70 Episode by Luchino Visconti, 1962
  •  Le amiche by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1955
  •  La notte by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961
  •  C'eravamo tanto amati (We All Loved Each Other So Much) by Ettore Scola, 1974
  •  Stromboli (Terra di Dio), by Roberto Rossellini, 1950
  •  La ragazza con la valigia (Girl with a Suitcase) by Valerio Zurlini, 1961

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