Cinema

Historically, Friulian cinema makes its appearance at the start of the ‘80s, with Maria Zef by Vittorio Cottafavi, a film inspired by the novel written by Paola Drigo in 1936 bearing the same title. The film tells a story that Vittorio Cottafavi had intended to bring to life for many years.<0} Set in Carnia, Maria Zef shows the tragedy of a young woman who lives in the mountains with her uncle and her younger sister and who ends up killing him to defend herself and her sister from his clutches. Writer Siro Angeli played a key role in the production of the film as not only was he the scriptwriter but also skilfully interpreted the protagonist.
The film was broadcast many times by the regional RAI and presented at several international festivals and events. Shot in 16 mm, then blown up to 35 mm, today the film is unable to be screened. In fact, the copies left are discoloured and also most of the sound is ruined. To make sure that this heritage of our cinematography, a group of cultural entities - the Cineteca of Friuli in Gemona, il C.E.C. (Centro Espressioni Cinematografiche) in Udine and Cinemazero in Pordenone – have been pursuing for years the idea of restoring old films involving other entities and obviously RAI that owns the related rights. The project also envisages the distribution of film in DVD along with a book that will be edited by the critic Sergio Grmek Germani.

 In the same years of Maria Zef other works were produced, both amateurial and professional, such as I varès volût vivi by Pittini or the Friulian versions of 1986, of the trilogy Cuitrileture part prime, seconde e tierce (versions enriched with new introductory shootings) by Marcello De Stefano, one of the directors that are most sensitive to reality, who reproposed the Friulian issue in all its facets through the essay-film.
Before then, the few films produced in Friuli were all in Italian. These include La sentinella della patria by Chino Ermacora and, above all, Gli ultimi by Vito Pandolfi and David Maria Turoldo. A fundamental boost to our film production surely came from the Mostre dal Cine Furlan, a biennial festival created in 1988 by the Centro Espressioni Cinematografiche of Udine with the objective of stimulating and spreading our cinema. Thanks to this event, in the ‘90s there was a qualitative and quantitative growth in products: from feature films to documentaries, from experimental films to cartoons.
The seventh art is involving an increasing number of professionals and enthusiasts. Among these we can mention Lauro Pittini, Lorenzo Bianchini e Massimo Garlatti-Costa as regards fiction; Benedetto Parisi, Giancarlo Zannier as regards fairy tales and folk stories; Dorino Minigutti and Renato Calligaro as regards teaching and artistic films; Remigio Romano, Carlo Della Vedova and still Parisi as regards documentaries.
In conclusion, high professionalism is developing in the field of cinematography in Friuli, though there are still too many structural and organizational drawbacks that slow down its growth.

The cinema by Marcello De Stefano

Marcello De Stefano – also author of a script in which the characters speak in Friulian, written in 1954-55, when he still attended the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome – immediately understands the importance of the language as the bedrock of the identity of a people and not just as a purely expressive and exterior aspect. Therefore in the years from 1981 to 1984 he shot Grafiz tun orizont on the figure of blessed Luigi Scrosoppi, the first religious work of our cinema. Later, in 1986 he decided to produce the Friulian version of the trilogy Controlettura – Una linfa che scorre – Uomo, macchina, uomo, that will become Cuintrileture part prime, seconde e tierce his most important work on the meaning and values of an ethnic group, on the positive things that it can give to today’s world.
The cinema by De Stefano is peculiar and is half way between the documentary genre and the feature film, that genre he calls “essay-film”. A film that represents an aesthetic research for new languages, that does not stop to the contents, pure documentation of reality but tries to transmit to the public an original vision of the world and stimulate discussion and reflection.
Cuintrileture part prime portrays three young female tourists that visit Friuli. Through monuments, works of art and the documents that the three protagonists discover, the director proposes a sort of reinterpretation of the history and art of Friuli. Thus he suggests a new way of seeing the reality, highlighting the specificity of the Friulian people and its language.
In part seconde, he documents the reconstruction and extension of the water pipelines in the areas affected by the earthquake and in the valleys of the Natisone River. Through those images, De Stefano relates the past and the present, tradition and technology, and emphasizes the history of a people that does not surrender to misfortunes.
In part tierce the director deals with craft activity, their relationship with the farming world and of the continuity they have preserved, also in modern society. A continuity that can represent a value also for the Friuli of the future.
Besides the films mentioned above, Marcello De Stefano, since 1971 to date has produced other 9 feature films.

La mostre dal Cine Furlan

1998 undoubtedly represents an important moment for the development of our cinema, a breakthrough that will give new possibilities to local production.
In fact, in that year the CEC of Udine conceived and organised the Mostre dal Cine Furlan, a biennial festival, a competition for Friulian films. It as a space open to filmmakers that have, in this way, the possibility of disseminating their work and an appointment that intends to be (and will be) a way of stimulating the creation and development of a new cinematography.

The first edition was a sort of “experiment” with the aim of exploring the availability of cinema professionals and enthusiasts to produce films in Friulian and evaluate the response of the public. The attendance rate was such a surprise that there was great hope for the future and, edition after edition, we witnessed higher quality in the works presented, greater interest by the public and film lovers. Thus, the Mostre will slowly become a breeding ground of new authors among whom worthy of notice are: Lauro Pittini, Benedetto Parisi, Giancarlo Zannier, Dorino Minigutti, Paolo Cantarutti, Massimo Garlatti-Costa, Remigio Romano, Carlo Della Vedova and many more.

The second edition of the festival (1991) was won by a short film by Lauro Pittini entitled I varès volût vivi. The film, shot in Super8 in 1981 then transferred onto electronic means, narrates a true story, the drama of an emigrant who returns to his homeland after having worked in a mine for many years. Now old and suffering from silicosis, the protagonist questions himself on the meaning of life and on the reason for so much suffering. The film draws its originality and strength from the ability of the director to communicate the dramatic tension of the story and especially because the character interpret himself and what he recounts is the life he truly lived.
Another interesting film presented in the same edition is worthy of notice: Cjossul by Michele De Mattio, a short film that, through an extraordinary black and white, mixing fiction, documentary and formal research, outlines the story of a peculiar character. Her we must say that experimentation started soon to appear on Friulian screens. In fact, still in 1991, two works of pure stylistic and formal research will be seen such as Rivoluzion planetarie by Paolo Cantarutti and L’omp by Daniela Toneatto.

In 1993 Lauro Pittini produces a feature film entitled Prime di sere, a film inspired by the novel bearing the same name by Carlo Sgorlon. Shot in Betacam, without any particular subsidies, Prime di sere represents the summary of Pittini’s entire film production: films that dig into the characters to explore their psychologies, films that question themselves on human dramas and the meaning of life. The film tells the story of Liseo, a man convicted of manslaughter is released for good behaviour after years spent in prison. Morally and socially devastated, Lisea will try to reintegrate into society in every possible way. However, he will have to face people’s prejudices, the difficulties of finding a job, the mistrust and sometimes the wickedness of man. Abandoned by his parents, Liseo will find abode in a room rented to him by a widow with a child. To him, that woman and her son represent what he has never had: family and understanding. Unlike the novel, the film does not actually end, leaving the door ajar for hope.

Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, in 1961, Lauro Pittini started shooting films at 15 in Super8. In 1984 he collaborated with the shooting and the script for the production of the film entitled Pinsîrs par dôs Istâts by Rino Gubiani (winner of the 1st edition of the Mostre). In addition to the aforesaid films, in 1983 he produced Colôrs di vite, in 1996 he was co-director of L’ereditât and in 1999 he shot Pieri Menis, ricuarts di frut (reported at the VI edition of the Mostre and seen by hundreds of students in schools). His works have been presented and obtained awards also in other European countries. Furthermore, he collaborated with RAI and wrote two works that were awarded prizes at the Concors par senegjaturis.

In 1994, Benedetto Parisi produced Dopli funerâl, a folk tale, where the drawings by Laura Feruglio accompany the narrating voice of an old lady from Preone, recorded by anthropologist Enza Sina. Parisi has started to transpose legends and fairy tales into films since 1988, when he presented Cui isal content in chist mont? on the screens of the Udine festival, a film produced using videographics.. The short film won the first prize then. In 1991 he directed two films: Une gnot in paradîs in collaboration with Gianfranco Casula, using the same technique, and No è cussiença in chist mont, with actors and original masks, and, in 1992, La grape d’aur where he used the reprocessed shapes of the actors.
His trip in the world of fairy tales and traditions continued in the following years with the production of La rusignole di Cretelungje (1995) (a Ladin fairy tale translated in Friulian) and three cartoon films - Cua, cua cua tachiti là; Il frut tal sac and Il princip bambin – which he produced in 2001 in collaboration with the students of IPSIA based in Gemona.
But Parisi is stimulated by another interest: documentaries. The author has also produced the shortest film in the history of cinema: Integrazion (1997) which only lasts one minute.
Giancarlo Zannier in 1995 directed Benandants, one of the few feature films of our cinema. This films which deals with good-natured sorcerers that fought evil forces in a dream, Giancarlo Zannier uses different styles and reading levels: The realistic one to stage the witch trials according to historical documents and the fantasy one to represent the spiritual “trips” made by the Benandanti to fight the evil sorcerers.
Giancarlo Zannier had started in 1988 by directing Il copari de muart, a tale interpreted by Renata Chiappino, the protagonist of Maria Zef. He will also direct other films such as Il timp dal venc (reported at the 1991 Mostre) and Meni Fari, 40e... Buine!!!, a modern reinterpretation of Meni Fari, shot in 2001.

Educational videos and documentaries

The first experiment of educational video is Videoscais, a production dating back to 1991 promoted by the Chair of the Faculty of Modern Languages of the University of Udine and consisting of a collection of episodes featuring the members of a family. The video that is directed by Giancarlo Velliscig, was created as part of a bilingual Italian-Friulian educational project. Two years later, in the same framework, Renato Calligaro produced Lis striis di Gjermanie, a video taken from the story by Caterina Percoto with the same title, in which the artist creatively combines his drawings with actors in the flesh. In 1995 Dorino Minigutti produced Bielscrivint, the story of Miute, a little girl that gets lost in the “world of writing” and escapes thanks to the help of an Agane (an ondine, a mythological figure). Dorino Minigutti is a producer of documentaries and feature films, especially those dealing with social issues ( disability, drug addiction, Aids) and is also a scriptwriter. In 1999 he produced Intrics, a fantasy story of wizards, elves, pixies and children, all captivated by a machine that generates proverbs and nursery rhymes , whilst the ogre Mastiefumate does everything in his power to stop it. For the same project, in 1997 Giuseppe Bevilacqua and Mara Udine had produced Linea dreta, linias dretas taken from a story by poet Leonardo Zanier who played himself in this “fantasy plot around a brief story set in Carnia”.
If we also consider La sentinella della patria (1927) we could probably state the very first form of Friulian cinema is represented by documentaries. And documentary production played an important part also later on. In 1996 Marco Rossitti (lecturer of history of cinema) produced Il liutâr (The lute-maker) a sort of poetic tribute to this noble profession that is still practised in our territory. In any case, already back in 1988, Antonio Magliocchetti had produced Jo o soi stade dome une volte al cine, an interview-film that won the second prize at the Mostre. Carlo Della Vedova and Luca Peresson, in 1999, explored the reality of the Friulian community of Colonia Caroya (Argentina) through Farcadice (also broadcast by Ladin television) and, in the same year Benedetto Parisi – who, in its production in Italian had canvassed the reality of Roms and the new immigration – depicted in Tony the humanity of an unusual, a road artist called Tony Zavatta. In 2001, the same author produced Gnovis dal Brasîl based on the figure and life choices of a Friulian missionary who lives in one of Brazil’s poorest areas.

For the sake of completeness, worthy of notice is La fontana di Bosplans (1997) by Michele Marcolini and Vuere dome di ricuarts by Gianni Fachin (award-winning at the 7th edition of the Mostre).
The works by Remigio Romano that, through filmed image, reconstructs a bygone world, should deserve special mention. In Une zornade a seselâ (1993), he reproduces field labour as it was performed back in the ‘30s and ‘40s and, in Il purcit (pig) (1997) through the words of Mauro Corona, he recalled the meaning and importance of this animal for rural families.

In 1997 Massimo Garlatti-Costa produced Il piligrin, a piece of work half way through experimentation, provocation and fun. In previous years, the director who now lives in and works in Great Britain, had produced with the “Slapagnots” group (Roberto Copetti, Massimiliano Lancerotto and Fabio Venuti) a screwball comedy film entitled Tele Frico (1993) and later, two other research works entitled La sielte (1994) and Precarie Armonie (1995). But Garlatti produced his most complete work in 2001, Buris, libars di scugnî vignî , a film that was extremely successful in a commercial cinema theatre. It is a 38-minute comedy that depicts an imaginary village of Friuli where, to overcome the economic crisis, an unemployed person sets up a pornographic film production company that quickly becomes one of the leaders of the film industry worldwide.
Buris opens the doors to a new season of the Friulian cinema, a cinema that starts feeling ready to overcome a merely local vision and capable of representing the most diverse situations and genres. But, as we will see later on, this leap in quality is not always totally free from ambiguities.

In this context, in 1999 Lorenzo Bianchini shot I dincj de lune, the first horror film in Friulian. The film, featuring a style that will become the trademark of its author, combines typical aspects and backgrounds of the territory and elements that characterise the classic horror genre. In 2001, Bianchini produced Lidrîs cuadrade di trê, a full-length film featuring three high-school students . After realising they made too many mistakes in a test and fearing they might fail, the three students decide to break into the school at night to replace their papers before the teacher corrects them. But unexpected events occur that night and the students find out things they weren’t supposed to know.
The film, was screened several times, always reaping a lot of success, and was also reviewed by a French magazine.
Bianchini also completed and presented another of his films, Custodes bestiae, where, however, the dialogues in Friulian only feature in a small part of the film.

In any case, in the new context referred to above, we have the feeling that the use of the language is often linked to an instrumental understanding, i.e. that when the language is used being worried about “being faithful to a specific reality” rather than seeing it as a communication code, with all that that choice could entail. In other words, we are under the impression that the author is before an “object” that does not belong to him” but “only belongs to the reality he is illustrating”. Paradoxically, if on the one hand there is a flourishing of contents, if one considers genres, if one examines new settings, on the other hand the language remains chained to a self-referential dimension, condemned to remain a simple expressive ornament rather than a communication vehicle.

The years from 1999 to 2001 represent a rather exceptional time for our film production in terms of both quantity and quality. In fact, the films mentioned earlier on, such as Pieri Menis, ricuarts du frut; Farcadice; Tony; Lidrîs cuadrade di trê; Gnovis dal Brasîl; Buris, libars di scugnî vignî, are from that period. But also works like La muart cui çucui by Giorgio Milocco and Andrea Nardon (1999), a 22-minute film that, playing on a dark black-and-white, radiates extraordinary expressive power. It tells the story of a youngster’s first day at work. An isolated factory in the middle of uncultivated fields, an unhealthy work environment, a tyrannous employer set the frame of his misadventures, a sort of nightmare, that the young worker must undergo. The film is both fantastic and symbolic (the old lady with the clogs that the young boy meets, the flock of crows, a factory that from the outside looks like an abandoned building) and also realistic (the world of work and its machines, its rules and its furious pace) .
In 2001, director Manlio Roseano directs a film taken from a novel by Sergio Cecotti, Il tierç lion: a detective film containing metaphysical elements, another example of genre films. However, Il tierç lion, a 16 mm film was shot in Italian and only after was it dubbed in Friulian and distributed in Betacam format in that versions.

The last edition of the Mostre (2003) awarded a prize to the feature film by Remigio Romano Âstu mai pensât di sposâti...in Comun? a parody of the “Promessi sposi” (“The Betrothed”) set in today’s time (that will also be broadcast by the regional RAI); it highlights Cuatri cjantons par une “francje” by Carlo Damasco (featuring Giuseppe Battiston; for a story written by Giovanna Zorzenon which won a prize at the Concors par Tescj Cinematografics del 2002); Lûs distudadis by Nicola Fraccalaglio and Thomas Marcuzzi and finally, as regards the section dedicated to children, La roie di Cussignà, the film by Liviana Calabrò.

To conclude this path we cannot but mention the film by di Christiane Rorato Vuerîrs de gnot, su lis olmis dai Benandants, presented at the d’Essai cinema in Udine at the end of 2003. Drawing upon the book by historian Carlo Ginzburg, the documentary is a research on what is left today of the Benandanti, the “good wizards” that in 500 were tried by the Inquisition and, more generally, on the traditions that are still alive in contemporary Friuli.

Latest developments: 2004-2012

From 2004 the documentary, whether classical or creative, has had an extraordinary development. Beside the aforesaid Friûl, viaç te storie by Massimo Garlatti-Costa, in 2004, playing with archive pictures Dorino Minigutti creates Nûfcent, viodesclesis dal Friûl, a collage of ten short stories, each representing a decade of the century that has just ended: news and political events that marked, sometimes tragically, life in Friuli. Minigutti, collected and selected the most significant and unusual archive pictures to insert in them, through an outstanding editing exercise, observations that helped the history of our land emerge in a new way, highlighting both difficult and comical moments, avoiding any kind of rhetoric or nostalgia.
The film was shot in two parts, Nûfcent, videosclesis dal Friûl (part I) containing the first five episodes covering the first half of the century, made in 2004, and the second part shot in 2006. For this work, in 2007 Dorino Minigutti won the Mario Quargnolo award, the prize that is awarded by the Mostre dal Cine Furlan.
In 2005 Stiefin Morat and Giorgio Cantoni introduced a large dose of experimentalism in a documentary whose protagonist is the Tagliamento River and all those that live along its banks. The film is entitled Mugulis, it was awarded the first prize at the Mostre dal Cine Furlan in 2005. Stefano Morandini, with an absolutely classical style, documents through his camera one of the traditions that is still deep-rooted in Carnia but that was present throughout the region at least until the ‘50s, i.e. the use of wooden rattles and clappers (instead of bells) during the days of the Passion. Title: Crasulas a Enemonç, special mention and “Mario Quargnolo” award in the same years.
The other great documentary saga is represented by Farcadice, a saga by Carlo Della Vedova and Luca Peresson. Started in 1999 with Farcadice – Diari di viaç, Colonia Caroya, Argjentine the one that will eventually become a serial project with the objective of documenting the various phases of Friulian emigration in the world, proposes in 2006 the second part of the series, Farcadice, diari di viaç: Charleroi, Belgjiche, relating to one of the most dramatic episodes of our emigration, the one that saw the Friulian people leaving their land to go and work and often, loose their lives, or fall ill with silicosis in Belgian mines.
But in 2006 other quality documentaries were produced such as Sul troi par Lucau by Lauro Pittini who turned the most significant tradition of Carnia into images, that of pilgrimage that besides the sacred value has always tried to closely relate two neighbouring populations, the Friulian and the Carinthian ones.
Other documentaries produced in that particularly fruitful year are L’amôr une volte by Michele Federico, Storiis in cuatri lenghis by Erica Barbiani, Sergio Beltrame and Elena Vera Tomasin (2007 Quargnolo prizes), Furlans di Romania by Gianni Fachin and La Fradaie dai Teracîrs e Mosaicicj Furlans inte Americhe dal Nord by Irene Rubini. This last work, gives us a glimpse of the incredible and centuries-old history, on the talent and works of Friulian mosaic and terrazzo workers, will have a follow-up with La lungje strade dai teracîrse mosaiciscj furlans in Europe by the same director.

In 2007 will be the turn of Farcadice, diari di viaç, Umkomaas, Sud Afriche, of the third part of Farcadice with a foray into the fortunate Friulian diaspora in South Africa that will end with the fourth episode and lead us into a considerable space-time leap in the Friulian community of Toronto through Farcadice, diari di viaç, Toronto, Canada. Dorino Minigutti, for his part, makes a comeback with a sports documentary entitled Il balon tal cjâf a series of 8 interviews to as many athletes and an unexpected Fernando Birri, famous protagonist of world cinema, who with the poetic short film, in many languages, Elegia friulana, wanted to celebrate his origins.

Last but not least Rumore bianco by Alberto Fasulo, a hymn to the Tagliamento River, the lands it laps and the men and women that live in that area. Fasulo, from San Vito al Tagliamento, is an author (today also a producer) who boasts a magnificent career as film maker. Before becoming a director with Cos’È che cambia ?, a documentary that is a tribute to his town of origin, Fasulo had collaborated with several directors as an assistant, camera second assistant, camera operator, floor sound engineer. He is currently producing a second documentary in Friulian entitled Babel blu (the deals with the Friulian flag) directed by Renato Rinaldi.
Worthy of notice is the beautiful documentary by Fredo Valla and Nereo Zeper Cjavelârs e pelassíers on hair collectors that from Occitain valleys (the Elva village is famous for this) crossed the entire Po Valley eventually reaching Friuli. Fredo Valla, an Occitain dcumentary producer and author, inter alia, of the subject and the script of the film entitled E il vento fa il suo giro / E l'aura fai son vir directed by Giorgio Diritti (2007), has had close relationships with Friuli for years presenting his films in various editions of the Mostre dal Cine Furlan and a year also being one of the members of the panel.
The film Visins di cjase directed by Marco Londero and Giulio Venier from Gemona was produced in 2012. The film is inspired by a script by Renzo Brollo, reported at the Concors par Tescj Cinematografics.

The first sitcom in Friulian was produced and broadcast by RAI (regional office of Friuli – Venezia Giulia) in 2008: its title was Autogrill. The sitcom comprises of six episodes produced by Claudia Brugnetta.
The first TV series in Friulian, but has not yet been broadcast, entitled Felici ma Furlans and is conceived and directed by Alessandro Di Pauli and Tommaso Pecile. The first mini-episodes were produced in 2012.

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