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It’s difficult to place into words the impact Italian Neorealism has personally had on me. The genre speaks to me on a visceral level. The old Italian films, born out of desperation, still hold up against the blockbusters of today. In an age where authoritarianism is making a comeback, we are witnessing a subconscious reemergence of the formerly communist left-supported Italian Neorealism movement. A genre “reboot,” so-to-speak, passionately defiant of the Donald Trumps, the Boris Johnsons, the Kim Jong-Uns, the Rodrigo Dutertes, paralleling the recent wave of democratic socialism and a greater societal readiness to accept left politics.
In order to contextualize the circumstances surrounding its reemergence, one must revisit the circumstances out of which Italian Neorealism was born. By drawing modern parallels to classics of the genre with recent films such as Roma, The Florida Project, Tangerine, Support the Girls, Cold War, American Honey, and Winter’s Bone, the sociopolitical and stylistic similarities between Italian Neorealism’s “reboot” and its cinematic predecessor succinctly emerge.
In the early 1940s, the emergence of Italian cinema essentially represented the complete opposite of the glamorous dramatizations of American cinema in the form of Italian Neorealism. Italian citizens lived in fear under Benito Mussolini’s oppressive, fascist regime during World War II. Italy was a stomping ground during Hitler’s Third Reich. While American films became more propagated on escapism in the 1940s, Italian cinema carried the tradition of the Lumière Brothers’ actualités. Italian filmmakers that emerged during the war and post-war were not profit-driven, but rather, emerged from a humanist necessity to expose the harsh truths around them. The Italian Neorealism genre lasted until the early 1950s. Since its themes were specifically related to war-torn, poverty stricken Italy and the ill-effects of an authoritarian-leaning government during WWII, the genre dissolved after the war.
Italian Neorealism is regarded as the beginning of the Golden Era of Italian cinema. The film genre was inspired by the Verismo literally translating to “realism” literary movement a generation prior in the late 1800s and early 1900s, legitimatized by Giovanni Verga and Luigi Capuana. Capuana’s manifesto, “Giacinta,” is widely regarded as the fundamental structural integrity of the Neorealist movement. Other prominent voices of the Verismo movement included Federico de Roberto “I Viceré,” a novelistic “docudrama” exploring the blind pursuance of power at the expense of a just and equal society, Salvatore di Giacomo, and Grazia Deledda. Verismo would experience a...
While major studios have the resources to debut their theatrical releases early on digital and streaming platforms amid the nationwide shutdown of movie theaters due to coronavirus COVID-19 concerns, indie filmmakers are being left without an audience for their small films. Typically, film festivals give these indie films the exposure they need to build up an audience or critical acclaim.
But with film festivals cancelling left and right, indie films are the ones that suffer the most. However, Jay and Mark Duplass, who got their start in the indie filmmaking world, want to use their clout to support those indie filmmakers whose small films are left without a home.
Film festivals are more than a fancy place for high-profile filmmakers to debut their next awards contender. They’re an essential home for many indie films that otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to debut to big crowds. But with those crowds dispersed and shut up in their homes for the time being, indie filmmakers are being left with nowhere to show the small films that they worked on for years. They don’t have the resources to just drop their movies on digital platforms and even if they did, they’re more likely to get overlooked in favor of Bloodshot.
However, the Duplass brothers are attempting to lessen the financial blow that indie filmmakers are feeling by using their clout to elevate those small films. In an interview with IndieWire, Mark Duplass put out the call to indie films for a home, offering the resources of Duplass Productions to boost indie filmmakers’ works.
“[The streamers] are all doing their best overtime watching pretty much every movie that’s being submitted to them from the festivals that didn’t have their premieres. We as Duplass Brothers have also come forward to those people and said, ‘If you find a movie where you feel like ‘This is really great but it’s not there yet,’ bring it to us and we will help partner with you to make that movie what you feel like it needs to be for your service.”
While streaming platforms have been a godsend for many stuck inside, or the many people who can’t afford to go to the movie theater every week, Duplass said that not only independent filmmakers, but independent studios have been struggling to cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are so many positives and negatives to where we’re at with the prominence of streamers, what they have done to places like IFC and Magnolia who’ve been around for years and who are an integral part of our ecosystem,” Duplass said. “They were really damaged by some of these acquisition prices at film festivals. We used to … sell our movies to these niche distributors, and we wouldn’t hammer them for too much money because if we did, they wouldn’t be...