Florence, 14th- 21th November 2008

International documentary film festival


The act of documenting is as old as the hills. In the beginning the desire to know oneself and others produced oral reports and rock painting. This developed into written accounts and finally with the coming of mechanical reproduction of real life, billions of fixed and moving images. While the act of challenging man’s fallible memory sinks back into the recesses of time, the word “documentary” referring to a cinematographic account, is comparatively recent, dating back in fact to the early decades of the last century. As many people know, Grierson used it to define Flaherty’s Nanook of the North despite the fact that at that time he was already aware that such a definition was insufficient: “To define a film as a documentary is a clumsy description, but it continues to thrust itself upon us. The French, who were the first to use it, meant by it a travel film. (...) Starting off from this exotic vision the term has ended up including dramatic films like Moana or Zemlya (Earth). And at the same time it will embrace other genres, different in form and in aims (...)”.

The validity of such foresight is to be found not only in the string of examples which have followed one after the other through time but above all in the vast range of present-day productions which are today defined as documentaries, and are thus recognized as being part of a homogenous category when in actual fact they differ considerably “in form and aims”.

In Grierson’s day a variety of widely different types of film all lived together under the roof of the “genre” in a kind of promiscuous dialectic: ingenious edited films like Dziga Vertov's The Man With a Movie Camera, socially committed works like Drifters by Grierson himself, rythmic-visual experiments such as Walter Ruttman's Berlin: the Symphony of a Great City poetical-humanistic explorations such as Manoel de Oliveira’s Douro, Faina fluvial, documentations of a personal point of view such as Jean Vigo’s A propos de Nice and documentary dramas such as Robert Siodmak and Edgar Ulmer’s Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sunday). Now that the cinema has passed through the experience of free cinema, direct cinema, cinéma vérité, and fictional reality the panorama has gradually opened out going from films which push the concept expressed by André Bazin in his essay Montage interdit to the limits («When the essentials of an event depend on the simultaneous presence of two factors of the action, montage is prohibited») to reporting, from independent news films to filmed essays, from the cinema as an extension of the hand to that which aims to be an extension of thought, from autobiography to documentary fiction, from found footage to art installations, and finally arriving at the so-called animated documentary.

Saturday 15th November 2008
Sala Convegni - Ente Cassa di Risparmio
Via Folco Portinari, 5 - Firenze


9,30 am WELCOME: Luciano Barisone
INTRODUCTION: Cristina Piccino

10 am CINEMA HISTORIANS AND THEORISTS : Marco Bertozzi, Erik Bullot
FESTIVALS DIRECTORS: Carlos Moguiro , Jean Pierre Rhem

11 am coffee break

11,30 am DEBATE moderated by Cristina Piccino

1 pm lunch

3 pm CINEASTES: Josè Luis Guerin, Nicolas Philibert
PRODUCERS: Carlo Cresto-Dina, Serge Lalou

4 pm coffee break

4,30 pm DEBATE

6pm WIND UP: Cristina Piccino, Luciano Barisone

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