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School of Modern Languages and Cultures: Italian Studies

Week Eight: Imaginary Worlds

Week Eight: Imaginary Worlds

Our penultimate week is a celebration of the imaginary worlds that were created by the Italian film industry, and includes some wonderful animations, which have been recently restored by the Italian National Cinema Museum.

Our programme starts with Raggio Di Sole, in which the prince of the dark ice kingdom undertakes a journey through other fantastic worlds to seek the cure for his illness-sunshine. This film is a surreal comic adventure clearly inspired by fairy tales. Lulù is our first Segundo de Chomón film of the evening and is a delightful stop-motion animation about a chimpanzee. Lulù was made by Chomón and his family in their Turin home, was never commercially distributed and languished in a garage until its recent discovery. André Deed's surreal Christmas comedy Come fu che l'ingordigia rovinò il Natale a Cretinetti (1910) ends our programme of short films.

Our first feature film of the evening is Nino Oxilia's Rapsodia Satanica. In a variation on the Faust myth, the elderly Dame Alba D'Oltrevita (Lyda Borelli) makes a pact with the devil and is granted eternal youth-as long as she does not fall in love. Complications arise as Dame Alba's beauty attracts two young brothers.The film has been recently restored and its beautiful stencil colours are a tribute to the power of colour in silent cinema. It was the final film directed by Nino Oxilia before his death in the First World War.

Our second feature film is Segundo de Chomón's La Guerra e il Sogno di Momi. This enchanting part-animated feature tells the story of Momi, a young boy whose father is an army officer away at the front. After hearing of his father's daring exploits, Momi drifts off to sleep and his toy soldiers, Trick and Track, stage their own fantastic, futuristic version of the First World War in Momi's dream. The film showcases Chomón's advanced knowledge of stop-motion animation and realigns our ideas of the history of animation. Made in 1917, this film has been recently restored by the Italian National Cinema Museum.

For the young and young-at-heart, tonight promises to be a fantastic conclusion to our film series. This programme will be accompanied by our pianist George Hetherington and will be shown from 7:30pm until 9:30pm on the 29th November 2011 at Durham Clayport Library, Millenium Place, Durham.