Now’s your chance to help support Abruzzese heritage and give the rest of the world a chance to know a little more about this fascinating and dramatic part of Italy.
10 years ago I met the filmmaker Julian Civiero at a photography event, ‘L’Abruzzo nell’ombra d’inverno’ that he jointly held with the wildlife photographer Bruno Amicis in the beautiful piazza of Fontecchio which his house fronts. He is an Anglo Roman that chose to buy in Abruzzo, the region he spent magical holidays during his childhood, and where lived full-time till recently. It was a magical evening for locals and visitors to the town who had come to sit together on a warm evening and learn and see more, chat afterward, and taste local cheeses and wines. There was the heady smell of roses, and we viewed their ‘shows’ with the backdrop of the remains of a Roman temple. This is the magic of collective entertainment in the piazza, something we have all dreamt about over the last year.
Julian’s new 45-minute documentary will follow the historical journey of cinema in rural Italy. In the 1940s and 50s of Abruzzo, long before television arrived in small villages, the ‘Cinemari were the men who brought outdoor cinema, ‘il cinema in piazza’ (outdoor cinema) to the mountain villages and towns during their summer festivals and sagre.
“Back in the 50’s going to the movies was the most popular past-time in Italy. Nearly every small village had its own ‘country cinema’ run either by a local family or the parish. Italians went to see films more than almost any other nation in Europe. In a time when few other sources of entertainment were available, the cinema was the default choice for young people looking to escape the routine of their daily lives and the hard life of labour in the fields.
Abruzzo boasts mountainous geography with many small, remote, and ancient villages scattered in hard-to-reach areas. At this point, a ‘cinemaro’ came into his own becoming a key player who brought the movies to these places and whose arrival in his distinctive van was always keenly anticipated. This figure soon became a well-respected member of the community. Their stories illustrate a time of innocence when the magic and mystery of cinema.
These communal experiences slowly lost their ground with the advent of television in 1954 and the growth of car ownership. When people could watch films in the comfort of their own homes free of charge and could leave town for other diversions such as music concerts and sports, cinema admissions began a gradual decline before dropping off dramatically in the 1960s and 70s.
Unable to compete with these new forms of entertainment, cinemas nationwide began to close. Especially hard-hit were the family-run village cinemas. This reflected the trend that affected the cinema industry worldwide.
Every Abruzzese has their own memory of the ‘cinema in piazza’, it’s part of the traditional life of the village. In this documentary, Julian seeks to show the world how passionate the ‘cinemari’ were are about their work and the role of cinema in the cultural life of the community.
This documentary works to capture a cultural practice unique to the region and documents the key players who brought the movies to these places. The importance of the cinemari may not be recognized outside of Abruzzo, but their work and dedication had a significant impact locally, as the emotional reactions by those who remember them, can confirm.
I hope that the narrative structure of my film will help to reveal and reinforce those processes of social and cultural change effectively, and you will also witness the valuable perspectives of practitioners of an unusual, and now almost extinct, trade. These really are the last few remaining men still doing it.”
As Julian explained: “We bought our house by the main piazza, that once was the heart of the village and now it’s more empty than it has ever been in its history.. in piazzas across Abruzzo there was the magic of the ‘cinema all Aperto’ that took place all over Abruzzo, central and southern Italy and it would be great if this tradition could be revived, and that’s what I’m hoping this documentary will do.”
SUPPORT & MAKE IT HAPPEN!
We are nearly there, just a little bit more, 8% of funding, and this Kickstarter project will become a reality! If past records are anything to go by of the films Julian has made about Abruzzo, it will receive a few awards and give the region some wonderful promotion!
As Julian said, “I think the most amazing thing about this project is how many people, from all over the world, have come together to support this documentary, not only Abruzzesi but also people that love cinema, dreamers I guess and to connect and share this amazing project with them has made my work even more important!”
Pledge £10 and you will be publically thanked, £20 and you will receive imagery, pledge £30 and you will receive 6 high-quality photography stills from the shoot and be one of the first to see the film! There are many more wonderful support incentives if you would like to pledge more! All or nothing – This project will only happen if it reaches its funding goal of £6000 by Saturday, May 1.
Click here to view how to support this Kickstarter campaign.
Watch Julian’s other award-winning films about Abruzzo on Vimeo
Don’t forget to check film festivals to see his latest film, the wonderful L’Amentario (The Herder)