In this film still, the first known photograph (by Nicéphore Niépce, 1826) is seen with the pigeon photographed by Eadweard Muybridge in 1887 and included in one of the famous chronographies (Pigeon Flying, Plate 755) in which the English artist aimed at capturing movement by means of photographic sequences.
In this sense, we can assume that Muybridge’s work anticipates, at least ideally, the birth of cinematography, through which discrete sequences of stills create, through the Maltese Cross mechanism, an apparently continuous depiction of motion, which becomes in its turn a representation – albeit illusory – of time.
In both Niépce’s photograph and in Muybridge’s chronographies we have evidence, through an almost literal separation of Light from Darkness, in the silver halides, of the creation of a new world: that of photographic images and cinema.
Muybridge’s characters, the first inhabitants of this world of images, inaugurate the golden age of the world of cinema – they appear to us as archetypical figurations, almost divine, timeless, eternal and universal – icons of a new universe and of a new sensitivity, described only by their own presence, by the light which illuminates and permeates them.
The Mostra Internazionale del Cinema di Genova (Genoa International Film Festival) is inspired by the purity of this first gaze.
The Grand Prix of the Exhibition will be thus dedicated to Eadweard Muybridge, and precisely to that Pigeon Flying which appeared to us almost as an image of cinema itself, of the soul in flight.
The artist’s soul, flying towards the unknown : we would like the works presented in the Festival, or at least some of them, to be faithful to this native spirit, to its freedom and mystery. To a sincerity where beauty appears immediately as truth, a manifestation of a unique and unrepeatable world, thick with wonder and amazement, harmonic or disruptive, magical or terrifying, the author’s inner world – images that almost seem to generate themselves on the incandescent white of the empty screen, figures of necessity, emanations maybe of that optical subconscious to which Walter Benjamin referred in his essay on photography.
Cinema as oneiric fascination, thus – as also Federico Fellini declared in an interview – where the director is both the creator and a guest of his own dream.
In this regard, photographic and cinematographic images, from Niépce and Muybridge to Man Ray or Josef Sudek, Bergman Vigo or Dreyer, always travel beyond their authors, they originate perhaps from other worlds, subconscious or simply unknown – fragments of eternity that the artist captures almost as a medium, enigmatic icons that live a life of their own, independently from his intentions.
As Andrej Tarkovsky once said : « The image is not a certain meaning, expressed by the director, but the entire world reflected as in a drop of water ».
So here we are; we would like to try to gather, in the Festival, these reflections, ephemeral at times, immediately lost, to rescue them from the general devastation and forgetfulness, humble caretakers of the freedom, lightness, power and fragility of art.
In this sense, it is our intention to inaugurate a Film Festival that might become, over the years, a point of reference to all lovers of cinema as an art form, to all people who, as authors or spectators, as critics or hardcored cinephiles, live for the cinema. We would like the Festival to also become a meeting point, unique and privileged, where the spectator can escape his own role and become, through the act of observation itself, through the emotion of seeing, a part of the event, and in a certain sense one of its co-creators. This was the case in Greece at the origin of classical theatre, during the Dionysean Festivals, in the unrestrainable emotional flow that overwhelmed all the participants ; this was the case in the great Film Festivals of the ‘60’s and the ‘70’s, at the screenings of Tarkovskij, Buñuel, Godard, Bresson or Antonioni; this was also the case in American Underground Film Festivals with the works of Brakhage, Maya Deren, Robert Frank; hence we would like it to occur once again in the cinema of the Festival.
No other place appeared to us more suitable for our purpose than the city of Genoa, with its port and its contrasts, with its dazzling lights and the darkness of the old town, with a thousand languages and its dialect, its innumerable departures and its returns.
The Festival is articulated in various sections and subdivided according to the (albeit questionable) dichotomy between fiction and non-fiction. We will therefore have a competition for features and shorts, both in the fiction and non-fiction sections. A special section of the Festival will be devoted to innovative languages.
In harmony with our ethical and aesthetical approach, the Festival Grand Prix will be awarded to a film independently from genre, duration and origin : the winner may equally well be a feature or a documentary or a so called « experimental film » lasting a mere few minutes.
We will place particular importance on the film screenings of out of competition and to thematic retrospectives.
Aleksandr Balagura / Cesare Bedogne