This article outlines the role played by Martin Scorsese in the promotion of Italian cinema and in the construction of a certain idea of its canon. Scorsese has acted as a sort of “ambassador” for a number of films, directors and tendencies in Italian cinema, taking on the roles of documentary filmmaker, promoter of restoration projects of classic titles, executive producer of emerging contemporary directors and cultural animator in the broadest sense. Thanks to his distinctive status as an industry insider, as well as his cult following and storytelling abilities, he has come to occupy a hybrid place, performing the functions of an educator and a “public historian” of cinema. In the first part, we will focus on the promotion of the Italian canon and its ideological implications. His 1998 documentary, My Voyage to Italy, traced the directors and films that most affected him through a mix of autobiography and cinema history. Through other initiatives such as retrospectives and restoration projects, the canon constructed Scorsese largely overlaps with that of the field of Italian film studies. His personal taste is modeled around a specific period and a set of auteurs, which has received overwhelming academic attention: the “golden era” of Italian postwar cinema, from neorealism to the auteur films of the 1960s. We trace the evolution of Scorsese’s involvement in Italian cinema, unpacking the separate threads that converge into his current public image as an expert and “public historian”. We claim that the specificity of Scorsese’s promotion lies in the ability to overcome established cultural oppositions, combining the symbolic capital afforded by his expertise and the affective power of the liberal humanist discourse. In the second part, we investigate his hybrid role as both an institutional and an informal ambassador of Italian films recently released in the U.S. Consistently with his other activities, Scorsese chose to sponsor films closely related to the styles and themes of postwar Italian cinema. We focus on two case studies which, more than others, have been impacted by his direct involvement: A Ciambra (Jonas Carpignano, 2017) and Happy as Lazzaro (Lazzaro felice, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018). In both cases, Scorsese did not limit himself to presenting the films on the occasion of their U.S. premiere, but also intervened in their distribution, figuring as an executive producer. In particular, we look at how Scorsese’s role intersected with the strategies of promotion of these two films, and the respective impact on festivals, awards, public presentations, and their critical reception in the United States.

Martin Scorsese presents. On a certain tendency in the canon of Italian cinema

Valerio Coladonato;Damiano Garofalo
2022

Abstract

This article outlines the role played by Martin Scorsese in the promotion of Italian cinema and in the construction of a certain idea of its canon. Scorsese has acted as a sort of “ambassador” for a number of films, directors and tendencies in Italian cinema, taking on the roles of documentary filmmaker, promoter of restoration projects of classic titles, executive producer of emerging contemporary directors and cultural animator in the broadest sense. Thanks to his distinctive status as an industry insider, as well as his cult following and storytelling abilities, he has come to occupy a hybrid place, performing the functions of an educator and a “public historian” of cinema. In the first part, we will focus on the promotion of the Italian canon and its ideological implications. His 1998 documentary, My Voyage to Italy, traced the directors and films that most affected him through a mix of autobiography and cinema history. Through other initiatives such as retrospectives and restoration projects, the canon constructed Scorsese largely overlaps with that of the field of Italian film studies. His personal taste is modeled around a specific period and a set of auteurs, which has received overwhelming academic attention: the “golden era” of Italian postwar cinema, from neorealism to the auteur films of the 1960s. We trace the evolution of Scorsese’s involvement in Italian cinema, unpacking the separate threads that converge into his current public image as an expert and “public historian”. We claim that the specificity of Scorsese’s promotion lies in the ability to overcome established cultural oppositions, combining the symbolic capital afforded by his expertise and the affective power of the liberal humanist discourse. In the second part, we investigate his hybrid role as both an institutional and an informal ambassador of Italian films recently released in the U.S. Consistently with his other activities, Scorsese chose to sponsor films closely related to the styles and themes of postwar Italian cinema. We focus on two case studies which, more than others, have been impacted by his direct involvement: A Ciambra (Jonas Carpignano, 2017) and Happy as Lazzaro (Lazzaro felice, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018). In both cases, Scorsese did not limit himself to presenting the films on the occasion of their U.S. premiere, but also intervened in their distribution, figuring as an executive producer. In particular, we look at how Scorsese’s role intersected with the strategies of promotion of these two films, and the respective impact on festivals, awards, public presentations, and their critical reception in the United States.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1655794
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