As the author and producer of the film, Once upon a time in Italy, I want to present it as a homage to the the great film directors of the middle generation between the ‘50s and the ‘60s who were indeed the protagonists: Bernardo Bertolucci, Marco Bellocchio, Francesco Maselli, Giuseppe Ferrara and Florestano Vancini. Sixteen rare documentary art films by these cineastes as well as by important documentary film directors such as Luigi Di Gianni, Ennio Lorenzini, Giuseppe Taffarel and Piero Nelli constitute the filter through which my film attempts to reconstruct a little socio-historical fresco of Italy in the decade 1957-1967: a crucial decade between the end of the ‘50s - at the beginning of the economic boom, with all its promises and all its illusions – and the end of the ‘60s – with the first signs of crisis and profound social and cultural upheaval. It must be stressed, absolutely, that these sixteen films are almost unknown in Italy, except to a limited audience of experts and scholars.Once upon a time in Italy is a film that presents itself above all as a reflection on the historical and cinematographic memory of Italy at a moment when the latter seems to be seriously threatened and almost evaporating. My documentary does not only speak about the above-mentioned art films and the circumstances in which they were realized, but also about the Italian film industry in the ‘50s and ‘60s and the political influence that was exerted on it. It also describes the particular social and cultural atmosphere that permeated Italy during that decade which was incubating the economic and cultural conflicts of which we are still paying the price; conflicts that have been re-evoked with great effect and synthesis by Paul Ginsborg and by Pier Paolo Pasolini in a series of poems and prose passages recited with heartfelt participation by Gianmarco Tognazzi and Stefania Orsola Garello.To conclude, why did I make this film? Because of my love for the cinema, certainly. For the sake of memory, a precious heritage, which must never be taken for granted. But also, and above all, because I would like the public – and especially young people – to approach history (and the respect and the pleasure of learning about history) also through the cinema and the memory of the cinema; thus relying on a language that is more direct and profound than the kind of superficial speech, often irritatingly manipulated by the media. And this is a problem and a need which here in Italy – today – seem particularly urgent.
DIRECTOR BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:
Stefano GrossiFilm director and scriptwriter. Born in Milan 19-10-1963. He lives in Rome.In 1996 his short film Giaime Pintor al fratello Luigi, 28 novembre 1943 (Giaime Pintor to his brother Luigi, 28th November 1943) (Metafilm and Istituto Luce, 1996, 35 mm, 5’30”) opened the 53rd International Exhibition of Cinematographic Art in Venice .In 1999, he made the feature film, Due come noi, non dei migliori (Two People Like Us, not among the Best) (Metafilm, 1999, 35 mm, 109’), presented at the Festivals of Locarno, Annecy, Europa Cinema, Rome Film Festival, Festival Premier Plans of Angers, Med Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival (San Francisco), Denver Film Festival, Video Monitor Film Festival (Nova Gorica, Slovenia), Sao Paolo, Las Palmas Film Festival (Spain). It first came out in Italian cinemas on 5th May, 2000, distributed by Istituto Luce.In 2001, he made the full-length documentary Radio Rock (D4, Telepiù, Digital Betacam/16 mm, 77’). which was first transmitted on Telepiù on the 14th May, 2002 and received the Special Mention from the Jury at the Festival Libero Bizzarri, 2002.In 2002, he made the short film Il primo giorno (The First Day) (Francesco Torelli Productions, 35 mm, 27’), which received the Special Mention of the Jury at the Fano International Film Festival, 2002. It competed in the International Festival of the Short Film in Siena, 2002.In 2003, he realized the documentary Azione è uscire dalla solitudine, un incontro con Luigi Pintor (To Act is to Come Out of Solitude, a Meeting with Luigi Pintor), (Il manifesto and Manifestolibri, DV CAM/16 mm, 44’), which was distributed in May, 2004. It competed in the Tek Film Festival, 2004, and in the Festival Libero Bizzarri, 2004.In 2009, he realized the documentary Diari del Novecento (XXth-Century Diaries, Vostok Film, Felix Film, Digibeta, 70’), based on 30 diaries written by important witnesses of the last century, from Franz Kafka to Kurt Cobain, from Virginia Woolf to Eva Braun and so on.In 2010, he realized the documentary Quello che resta (What Remains, Vostok Film, Digibeta, 78’), about film restoration and cinematographic memory.In 2011, he realized the documentary C’era una volta in Italia, (Once upon a Time in Italy, Vostok Film/Felix Film, Digibeta, 75’), a review of 16 precious Italian documentary art films of the Fifties and the Sixties, made by Bertolucci, Bellocchio, Maselli, Ferrara, Vancini.He is now preparing a full-length documentary Dall'altra parte (Nour al-Maghreb) (Vostok Film, Felix Film), on the relationship between the West and the Arab world, financed by MEDIA 2004.