New italian cinema

   New Italian Cinema was a rubric that came to be used ever more frequently from the mid-1990s onward to characterize what was widely seen as a resurgence of creative energies after the period of relative stagnation that had followed the crisis of the film industry in the mid-1970s. Although the expression had been used earlier in a tentative way to indicate the work of a number of younger filmmakers who had made their debut in the early 1980s, it was the overwhelming success of Giuseppe Tornatore's Nuovo cinema Paradiso (Cinema Paradiso, 1988) in winning both the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film that appeared to set the seal on the return of Italian cinema to the world stage. Soon after, the similar international success of Gabriele Salvatores's Mediterraneo (1991) and Gianni Amelio's Il ladro di bambini (The Stolen Children, 1992) confirmed that Italy was indeed producing a new generation of world-class filmmakers who were, in fact, creating a new Italian cinema.
   Although the signs of this renaissance were undeniable, the precise features of the new cinema continued to prove difficult to define. The many directors who came to be grouped under its umbrella—Nanni Moretti, Gianni Amelio, Maurizio Nichetti, Mario Martone, Francesca Archibugi, Silvio Soldini, and others—were of widely varying ages and backgrounds and their films often seemed to have little in common with each other. Nevertheless, even if they displayed no common ethical or political vision or any shared aesthetic project, these films all appeared to be responding in their own particular way to the more complicated and fragmented social reality around them, to an Italy where the old political ideologies had crumbled and with them a great part of all the previous certainties. The early films of Salvatores in particular voiced the profound disillusionment of the now-adult members of a 1968 generation who continued to dream of flight from that intolerable society that they had so fiercely contested but into which they had ultimately become firmly integrated. Other films such as Marco Risi's Mery per sempre (Forever Mary, 1989), Aurelio Grimaldi's La ribelle (The Rebel, 1993), and Vito Capuano's remarkable first film, Vito e gli altri (Vito and the Others, 1991), attempted to report in an honest and almost dispassionate way the institutionalized marginalization and the social degradation of the big cities, especially as they affected the younger generation, without, however, being able to propose any solutions. Amelio's own Il ladro di bambini, one of the high points of this new cinema, successfully renewed the aesthetic paradigm of neorealism while at the same time recording the defeat of its aspirations to social justice and human solidarity. On the other hand, Daniele Luchetti's Il portaborse (The Yes Man, 1991) was able to use caricature to present a fictional portrait of the inbred corruption that had become such a regular feature of Italian political life and which only a year later the Manipulite (Clean Hands) investigations would confirm in detail.
   Although the New Italian Cinema appeared to have no center—indeed, a dislocation away from the traditional center of Rome was a characteristic feature of these films—Nanni Moretti came to be one of its major points of reference, not only for his eccentric and always independent filmmaking but also for his willingness to act in the films of other younger directors. More importantly, his initiative in setting up his independent production company, Sacher Film, allowed him to exercise complete control over his own work as well as to facilitate the entry into the industry of other promising young directors. The founding of other small but solid independent production companies in the late 1980s, such as Salvatores's Colorado Film and Domenico Procacci's Fandango, also helped to construct a firm financial basis for the new cinema, leading to a proliferation of films by both established and new directors in the late 1990s. Although the very existence of a New Italian Cinema had been challenged by some skeptics in the early part of the decade, the three Oscars awarded to Roberto Benigni's La vita e bella (Life Is Beautiful, 1997) and the Palme d'or at Cannes for Moretti's La stanza del figlio (The Son's Room, 2001) dispelled all doubts that Italian cinema had indeed gone through a renaissance and emerged into what is now simply called the cinema of the third millennium.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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