Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni is the focus of a one-day conference—“1912-2013: 101 Years of Michelangelo Antonioni”—set for Saturday, Sept. 28, at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the campus’ Karl Anatol Center.
Antonioni (1912-2007) was known for his trilogy on modernity and its discontents—“L’Avventura” (1960), “La Notte” (1961) and “Eclipse” (1962). He received numerous awards and nominations throughout his career, including the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize (1960 and 1962), Palme d’Or (1966), the Venice Film Festival Silver Lion (1955), Golden Lion (1964), the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Silver Ribbon eight times, and an honorary Academy Award in 1995.
The conference is co-sponsored by CSULB’s George L. Graziadio Center for Italian Studies, Romance, German Russian Languages and Literatures Department and Film and Electronic Arts Department. Enrico Vettore, associate professor of Italian Studies and organizer of the event, has assembled a lineup of scholars to reflect upon Antonioni’s unique cinematographic legacy.
“Antonioni was a humanist with a great interest in both humanity and science,” Vettore said. “The goal of this conference is to understand Antonioni’s search for meaning in human beings and how they adapt to new worlds and to new times. These are themes that do not get old,” Vettore said. “It also will remind us of Antonioni’s ongoing importance as a director who approached film from both a metaphysical and philosophical perspective.”
The conference will feature Italian film scholars Murray Pomerance, Thomas Harrison, Mary Ann Carolan, Fulvio Orsitto and Fletcher Beasley. Their papers will explore the many facets of the creative output of a multi-talented artist who redefined the concept of narrative cinema and challenged traditional approaches to storytelling.
Harrison, a professor and chair of UCLA’s Department of Italian, will open the conference and set the tone with his lecture titled “Framing the Story: The Beginnings and Endings of Antonioni’s Films.” He will be followed by Carolan, who serves as associate professor of modern languages and literatures at Fairfield University in Connecticut. She recently authored “The Transatlantic Gaze: Italian Cinema, American Film” and will discuss Antonioni’s 1972 documentary of China’s Cultural Revolution titled “Chung Kuo – Cina.”
Up next will be Orsitto, director of CSU Chico’s Italian and Italian-American Studies program. He is working on Italian-American and post-national Italian cinema. Pomerance, a Canadian film scholar from Ryerson University, will discuss Antonioni’s reportorial gaze. The program also will include CSULB Film and Electronic Arts Professor Beasley, who will discuss Antonioni’s use of music.
The conference will conclude with a 3 p.m. screening of the recently restored version of Antonioni’s “La Notte,” starring Marcello Mastroianni and Monica Vitti. Shot in Milan, the film is about a day in the life of an unfaithful married couple and their deteriorating relationship.
“Of all three films in Antonioni’s famous trilogy, ‘La Notte’ is the most approachable,” Vettore explained. “The more you watch it, the more you like it. It was our goal that this program would appeal not only to scholars but to the community as well. It was never our plan to make it too abstract.”
Vettore also praised the student organization Club Italia for its participation in the conference and encouraged the campus and community to attend.
“Those interested in Antonioni’s films, even if they have never seen them before, ought to attend to hear scholars from all over the world offer new insights into his work,” he said. “The audience will certainly be instilled with the desire to go back and watch these great films again. This is no dry academic environment. We worked hard to make this conference as accessible as possible.”
The event is free and open to the public, although there is a $5 parking fee for the lots on campus. For more information about the one-day conference, contact Vettore at Enrico.Vettore@csulb.edu.