Notari, Elvira

(1875-1946)
   Director, producer, scriptwriter, editor. Born in Salerno in 1875, Elvira Coda moved to Naples in 1902, where she married painter and freelance photographer Nicola Notari. Both were passionately interested in the new medium of moving pictures and by 1906 were making short actualities and newsreels together, which they were able to screen in the growing number of Neapolitan movie houses. In 1910 they founded the Film Dora production company (changed in 1915 to Dora Film) and began making fictional feature films. Many of these were violent and passionate melodramas with a very distinctive Neapolitan inflection, often adapted from popular novels, such as those of Carolina Invernizio, or from folk songs and local stories. Hugely popular in Naples, these films were less appreciated in other parts of Italy, but Dora Film soon opened an office in New York, where the films found greatest favor among the expatriate Neapolitan community. Having remained an artisanal and family business, the company survived the general crisis that affected the Italian film industry in the early 1920s, but political pressure against manifestations of regional culture from the Fascist authorities and the coming of sound eventually led to its closure in 1930. Still devoted to cinema, Notari continued to run a film acting school in Naples, where she championed the naturalistic style.
   Most of Notari's films have been lost but it is estimated that, along with many shorts and actualities, she directed close to 60 features, among them Il nano rosso (The Red Dwarf, 1917, based on a novel by Invernizio) and Piange Pierrot (Pierrot Cries, 1924, based on a song by Cesare Andrea Bixio). In 1987, to recognize Notari's often overlooked contribution to Italian cinema, the Casa Internazionale delle Donne established the Elvira Notari Prize, awarded each year as part of the Venice Festival to the film that best exemplifies women's achievements.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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