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Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: Italian Studies



To celebrate Italy's 150th birthday, we are organising a celebration like no other— an Italian Silent Film Season. Combining Durham University's film collection with that of the Italian National Cinema Museum, we are showing some of the most fascinating Italian films produced before 1930. Many of these rare films have not been seen in the UK for over ninety years, and will probably not be seen again in the UK for another ninety. In keeping with the birthday spirit, all of the films will be free to view; no tickets or money is required!  Each week, a programme of films will transport us to an Italian region and its pasts, art and beauty. We will enjoy the splendour of the Italian Lakes, the mysteries of Venice and Rome in all its glory.  If you are interested in Italy, history or just enjoy being entertained by great films, this is definitely an event for you.

Each week, our programme of films will be introduced by one of our friendly experts. First, we will enjoy a selection of short films produced in the featured Italian city or region. Prepare for some great comedies, beautiful travelogues and enthralling dramas. Then, we will enjoy a feature film made or set in that region. All the features we are showing were blockbusters in their day — and are still great to watch today! Many of the silent films will be accompanied by a live performance from our experienced silent film pianist; all the others have good quality recorded scores. After the film, you are welcome to stay for a quick discussion and ask us any questions you may have.

Starting on the 11th October 2011, the film showings take place every Tuesday night in Durham Clayport Library from 7:30pm until 9:30pm.

We will also be organising a special showing of  magnificent restoration of Cabiria, the most epic of the Italian historical films. With towering sets, thousands of actors and  limitless ambition, Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria was so great that Griffith copied it, Fellini paid it homage and Scorsese is still in awe of it. The Italian National Cinema Museum restoration has beautiful colours and image quality, and has only be shown three times before. It promises to be a breathtaking cinematic experience.