Arse Marathon


Ha! I wrote so many things in Bologna last year at Il Cinema Ritrovato that I lost track of what I had done. Here’s one piece that never saw the light of your screens —

“Nobody’s really captured the quality of a film festival,” observed musician/composer Neil Brand, “You’re doing something that’s pleasurable, but then the fatigue sets in…” It’s true — a celluloid feast like Il Cinema Ritrovato is a particular case, too, since so many of the films are rarities. It’s like being a cake specialist and suddenly somebody offers you fifty magnificent cakes of unique recipe but says “You have to eat them all in an hour or I’ll take them away and you’ll never see them again.” You plunge in, and even when nausea starts to replace pleasure you can’t bring yourself to stop…

Cinephiles like to grumble, and the venues of Bologna attract a certain amount of criticism (one has a bar which runs between the front row and the screen, cutting the subtitles in half; air conditioning is switched on and off at random; and then there’s the “simultaneous translations” which come with heavy sighing free of charge) but fortunately the seats are all fairly comfortable, at least compared to Edinburgh Filmhouse, so I was able to average five shows a day without feeling like a funny balloon animal specialist had been let loose on my spine. The damage was purely mental, a combination of fatigue (screenings begin at 9 and end between midnight and one), overload (films blur together, and then reality blurs in too, and isn’t that the festival director lurking in the background in TOBY DAMMIT?)

Weird coincidence — when I attended Toronto Jewish Film Festival my arrival was greeted with thunderstorms and by the end of a week trudging the city with Serbian dandy Milos Tomin, my shoe exploded with an audible PFFT — the squishy remains afforded insufficient protection cause my right foot to assume the texture of bubble wrap — in Bologna, I got the impression that thunder was following me around, Frankenstein-fashion, as torrential downpours and cloudy rumblings (“God moving his furniture”) again heralded my arrival, and my right shoe, newly purchased, peeled loose its heel. I just got one blister this time, but of the size and contours of a second David Cairns, only even softer and slightly translucent.

Things I shall attempt to write about in some detail — curious and exciting earlies — Italian compendium film extracts — MARRIAGE, ITALIAN STYLE — early Wellmans — movie serials — restored Chaplins — a host of Hitlers — Germain Dulac projected by carbon lamp — the daughters of Blasetti and De Sica. Things I mainly missed — Polish Cinemascope — early Japanese talkies — Colleen Moore’s soundie WHY BE GOOD? — Garbo as THE TEMPTRESS.


It’s really going to be a pain to not be able to afford to go to Bologna, Pordenone, Telluride… here’s hoping a big pay cheque comes in!

5 Responses to “Arse Marathon”

  1. Roger Allen Says:

    “Arse Marathon”
    …and there I was thinking it was about Yoko Ono’s most famous film…

  2. Eventually, one of these festivals will have you doing as Guy Kibbee did in THE DARK HORSE, cutting off your shoes when your feet swell and blister from too much walking and sitting.

  3. Only in my case it’ll be the seat of my pants.

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