29 May – 12 June

WRITING WITH HER EYES: SUSO CECCHI D’AMICO, SCREENWRITER AS OBSERVER

“I am not a poet. I am an artisan.” This humble self-assessment from legendary Italian scriptwriter Suso Cecchi d’Amico (1914–2010) is better understood when seen in the context of her next statement from a 1999 interview: “Cinema is not an art… it may be that it gives you that impression, but it is reality.” Despite a prolific career, collaborating on some of cinema’s greatest masterpieces with a number of its most revered auteurs, Cecchi d’Amico always maintained a journalistic conception of the medium. Born in Rome to artistic parents – her father Emilio spent time, during the 1930s, in charge of Italy’s largest film studio – Cecchi d’Amico drifted into screenwriting without a sense of vocation: “If we had as many newspapers and magazines… many of us would have become journalists instead of making films… we merely wanted to tell our stories about our experiences of that era.” Such an impetus informed the production of the neorealist classic Bicycle Thieves (1948), with Cecchi d’Amico wandering through Rome’s streets with Vittorio De Sica to gather incidents and characters to form the screenplay. Never comfortable with the “neorealist” label – “it was only a little group of friends who just wanted to make films and went out into the streets to do so” (Cecchi d’Amico) – she went on to collaborate on over 100 films across a range of genres, maintaining decades-long partnerships with Luchino Visconti, Mario Monicelli and Luigi Comencini. Throughout these works, as well as in shorter stints writing with Michelangelo Antonioni, Franco Zeffirelli and Francesco Rosi, she maintained a commitment to creating “the best circumstances for the director”. She always worked with filmmakers she knew well and would tailor scripts to their vision and strengths. It’s in this sense that her view of herself as an artisan, crafting each screenplay to specification – whether antic comedy, spectacular epic, dense political thriller, character-driven drama, commercial vehicle for a legendary star or a film cast with non-actors – is particularly apposite. This season brings together key collaborations with Antonioni, Visconti, Monicelli, Valerio Zurlini and Rosi.

Presented in partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute.

Presented with support from Cinecittà Luce.

Wednesday 29 May

7:00pm L’INNOCENTE

Luchino Visconti (1976) 129 mins – M

Cecchi d’Amico was a key Visconti collaborator working with him many times between Bellissima in 1951 and this, his final film, released only a couple of months after his death. Italy’s high society near the turn of the 19th century serves as a backdrop for a searing critique of aristocratic hypocrisy and self-deluded, fragile masculinity. Gorgeously shot by Pasqualino De Santis, this sumptuous mélange of luxury, class, history and death is a sublime synthesis of the themes that forever interested Visconti, a haunting portrayal of a world clinging to its fading, spectral glory. Starring Giancarlo Giannini and Laura Antonelli.

35mm print courtesy of Cinecittà Luce.


9:25pm LA SIGNORA SENZA CAMELIE

Michelangelo Antonioni (1953) 101 mins – Unclassified 15+

A backstage, film-on-film melodrama partly built around Antonioni’s association with various actresses, Cecchi d’Amico’s first collaboration with the director (on his second feature) was also co-written with Francesco Maselli and Pier Maria Pasinetti. Lucia Bosè plays a newly discovered starlet weighed down by the travails of fame and confronted by fawning, aggressive crowds of her own adoring fans. Featuring a dynamic score composed by Antonioni regular Giovanni Fusco (L’eclisse, Hiroshima mon amour), this is the director’s first fully characteristic and truly modern work. With Gino Cervi and Andrea Checchi.

35mm print courtesy of Cinecittà Luce.

Wednesday 5 June

7:00pm VIOLENT SUMMER

Valerio Zurlini (1959) 98 mins< – Unclassified 15+

Cecchi d’Amico’s only script for Zurlini broke a longstanding taboo in most Italian cinema: the depiction of the events of the summer of 1943. Against the backdrop of Mussolini’s fall and the Allied invasion of Italy, a Fascist party boss’ draft-dodging son (Jean-Louis Trintignant) mounts a passionate love affair with a war widow (Eleonora Rossi Drago). An account of personal desire caught in the crossfires of history, Zurlini’s celebrated breakthrough film also explores the dichotomy between Italy’s repressive societal rules and the promiscuity of its upper-class youth.

35mm print courtesy of Cinecittà Luce.


8:50pm I MAGLIARI

Francesco Rosi (1959) 116 mins – Unclassified 15+

Co-written by Cecchi d’Amico, Rosi’s gritty and atmospheric second feature is a tale mired in the increasingly borderless, itinerant and opportunistic world of post-war Europe. Alberto Sordi stars as an Italian travelling salesman attempting to “swindle” his German customers by fraudulently selling them inferior cloth. Meeting up with a naïve fellow Italian he proceeds to teach him the ropes. Mostly shot on location in Hanover and Hamburg, Rosi’s richly detailed drama is a fascinating portrait of class, nationality, the “economic miracle” of post-war Germany and the less certain fate of its wartime ally.

35mm print courtesy of Cinecittà Luce.

Wednesday 12 June

7:00pm LE AMICHE

Michelangelo Antonioni (1955) 104 mins – Unclassified 15+

Antonioni’s second last film prior to his bold advance with 1960’s L’avventura concerns a group of high-society career women in Turin and the questions they begin to ask of their lives and relationships after one of them attempts suicide. Expertly adapted from a novella by Cesare Pavese by Cecchi d’Amico and Antonioni, this tightly scripted, performance-driven film makes potent use of expressive camera movement and masterly crafted mise en scène to highlight the existential tensions enveloping the characters’ sense of modern female experience. Starring Eleonora Rossi Drago, Gabriele Ferzetti and Valentina Cortese.

35mm print courtesy of Cinecittà Luce.


9:00pm THE PASSIONATE THIEF

Mario Monicelli (1960) 106 mins – Unclassified 15+

Cecchi d’Amico collaborated with comedy legends Age & Scarpelli to adapt stories by Alberto Moravia in this tale of a washed-up actress (Anna Magnani) encountering her similarly down-and-out colleague (Totò). Taking place during a single New Year’s Eve, Cecchi d’Amico’s talent for structure comes to the fore, helping ensure the whirlwind farce doesn’t dissipate through its own centrifugal momentum. Magnani, who began her cabaret career alongside Totò, makes a triumphant return to her comedic roots without sacrificing her legendary intensity – notably when sizing up the erotic possibilities of a young-enough-to-be-her-son Ben Gazzara.

35mm print courtesy of Cinecittà Luce.

7 February
OPENING NIGHT 2024

7 February – 21 February
FROM THE BOULEVARDS OF PARIS TO THE DOCKS OF CHERBOURG: LANDMARKS OF THE FRENCH FILM MUSICAL

28 February – 13 March
"LIVING MAY BE TRAGIC, BUT LIFE ISN'T": THE FILMS OF THE TAVIANI BROTHERS

20 March – 3 April
IN THE AFTERGLOW: THE MERCURIAL STARDOM OF GLORIA GRAHAME

Wednesday 10 April
MAN OF THE CINEMA: A TRIBUTE TO JOHN FLAUS AT 90

17 April – 1 May
KEEP ROLLING: ANN HUI'S COUNTER-CINEMA

8 May – 22 May
"ALL ART IS ONE": THE VISIONARY CINEMA OF MICHAEL POWELL AND EMERIC PRESSBURGER

29 May – 12 June
WRITING WITH HER EYES: SUSO CECCHI D'AMICO, SCREENWRITER AS OBSERVER

19 June – 3 July
THE HOUSE THAT MOHSEN BUILT: THE FILMS OF SAMIRA MAKHMALBAF, MARZIEH MESHKINI AND MOHSEN MAKHMALBAF

10 July – 24 July
THE PAIN OF LIVING: JEAN EUSTACHE, BEING CINEMA

Wednesday 31 July
BETWEEN THE WAVE AND REVOLUTION: THE RETURN OF RIVETTE’S LEGENDARY L’AMOUR FOU

4–18 September
BLIND BEASTS, RED ANGELS AND HOODLUM SOLDIERS: THE IRRESISTIBLE CINEMA OF YASUZO MASUMURA

25 September – 9 October
JIŘÍ MENZEL: MAKING COMEDIES IS NO FUN

16–23 October
OF MEN AND MONSTERS: THE CINEMA OF NIKOS KOUNDOUROS

Wednesday 30 October
CONTESTED HISTORIES: THE DOCUMENTARIES OF JENI THORNLEY

6–20 November
THE FIRST AND LAST OF ENGLAND: THE QUEER LEGACIES OF DEREK JARMAN

Wednesday 27 November
PARADING THE PAST: RECENT ERNST LUBITSCH RESTORATIONS

4–11 December
THE SEEDS OF CHANGE: THE DOCUMENTARIES OF TOM ZUBRYCKI

Wednesday 18 December
CARLTON AND BEYOND: THE MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY FILM SOCIETY IN THE 1960s