TV Times

Italy to promote alternative cinema here
By Susitha R. Fernando
Prof. Paolo Minuto is Professor of Cinema at the University of Reggio Cala-briya, Italy and the Vice President of the International Federation of Film Societies. He is also the Director of the International Film Festival, Reggio Calabriya, Italy.

Recently Prof. Minuto came to Sri Lanka to participate in a film festival of award winning Italian Filmmaker Gianni Amelio who is considered to be one of the most clever and socially involved film directors in Europe.

The films were introduced by Prof. Minutho before each screening and the festival was organised by Asian Film Centre at the auditorium of the Public Trustee.

TV Times : What are your roles as a Professor of Cinema, the Vice President of the International Federation of Film Societies and the Director of the International Film Festival, Reggio Calabriya, Italy?

Answer: Actually the three roles are quite different in practice. As a professor I teach the history of Italian cinema and Italian language to foreign students. I also teach to do research and write.

But as the vice President of the International Federation of Film Societies my job is very tight as I have to fulfil the task of gathering film societies all over the world together. As the Director of the International Film Festival, Reggio Calabriya I have got to promote and encourage the filmmakers who are seeking for alternative cinema.

TVT: Can you give a brief introduction to the university of Reggio Calabriya, Italy?

A: It was started with the objective of initiating and exposing foreign students through Italian cinema and to make them competent filmmakers. There are number of students from Japan, Nepal, Korea and Singapore and there are also students who have come in scholarships to study at the University of Reggio Calabriya. And Reggio Calabriya University is an institution especially dedicated for foreigners who are interested in cinema.

Here the students are exposed to Italian culture and at the same time we are enriched by their individual cultures. Here there is an integration of cultures worldwide. TVT: What are the objectives of the International Federation of Film Societies?

A: The main objective of IFFS is to coordinate the movements so that there will be a strong empathy between film societies and it seeks to find and alternate cinema to the existing Hollywood mainstream cinemas. We make it conducive to directors of films whose objectives are different from the mainstream cinema. They get an opportunity to screen their films to an appreciative audience where as they may not get that opportunity in the commercial world of films. This make available for an alternative cinema for the people. Film societies are very important as they educate people and even to be free in cultural war.

TVT: What are the benefits that the International Film Festival, Reggio Calabriya, Italy offers?

A: Europe having the power that wealth can give has to understand its limitation in the world as a whole. The period of colonisation is gone and its influence-whatever the influence that remain should be eradicated. This can be done only in sharing experience and accepting all traditions cultures and languages as equal forms of communication and interpersonal relations. At the moment English is given preference so with this objective the film festival encourages filmmakers internationally to submit their films and gain recognition.

TVT: What is cinema?
A: It is an artistic form of communication in visual and for us cinema is a part of life style. In this medium of communication there is no barriers.
So that we don’t approve of censorship we think that it is the prerogative of the audience to do so and they have the right to view the film. Cinema is really a way for peace.

TVT: What kind of reaction do you expect from the Sri Lankan film going audience?

A: There was a good response. There were many filmmakers and it was really encouraging.
I realise that the Sri Lankan audience is very receptive and open to other cultures for example Sri Lanka having a majority of Buddhists, celebrate Christmas enthusiastically where as we in Italy are conservative and don’t celebrate other religious festivals. This is really an encouraging sign where a filmmaker is concerned.

I am very happy about the response I got from the Sri Lankan film going audience. We like to bring more Italian films to Sri Lanka and we discussed about this with the embassy too. We want to promote Italian cinema here specifically.

The International Federation of Film Societies will be able to make contacts to screen many of our films.

In addition I would say that Italy has a lot to learn from Sri Lankan culture. Through comparatively financially low I witnessed that people here have a smile to share with others which you don’t see in Europe.

TVT: How can the cinema appeal to the mass audience respecting their intelligence and susceptibility?

A: In cinema it is important to respect the intelligence of the audience.
And we also cannot categorise the cinema to suit the audience and actually there is no real categorisation in cinema.

At the beginning the film critics had to put the cinema in different categories. But this is a difficult task because films labelled as popular cinema had fallen into the category of art cinema and vice versa and there is actually a mixture.

In that case we have to respect the audience way of thinking. But to respect people’s thinking we have to give the people the opportunity to choose. If they see only Hollywood or Bollywood films we would not know if they like other kinds of cinema.

We should give them the opportunity to see all kinds of films and that may we may respect their intelligence. For another example Bollywood cinema doesn’t expose its audience to authentic Indian culture and tradition. And you don’t see real Indian life in Bollywood cinema.

It caters only to the Indian unrealistic dreams not reality. But we have to respect the popular cinema of Hollywood and even Bollywood as sometimes good films are produced. We have to respect all the audience.


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