Emanuela Martini tells us about her Cineforum
Curtains of cinemas and theaters continue to remain lowered, but the sector still has a lot to say and can do so also thanks to the pages of independent and non-independent magazines.
Founded in 1962, Cineforum in 2020 changes its skin: format, graphics and periodicity are revisited, remaining faithful to the original in the contents. Among its pages presentations and reviews alternate with controversy and discussions on dozens of films, analysis of film trends and authorial trends in this sector.
On the occasion of the release of the first issue we interviewed Emanuela Martini, editor of the magazine.
Hi Emanuela and thank you for giving us this interview! In 2019 your experience as director of the Torino Film Festival ended, but you immediately embarked on a new adventure, perhaps even more difficult: to relaunch a historical magazine such as Cineforum in printed form.
I am a print freak, I live in a very small house and will probably be kicked out of the house by books. I happen to read on electronic devices too, but in this digital age I don't want to abuse them. I have an almost physical love with the book and the paper, it is a form of fetishism and I realize it! And although I live in cinema and have been passionate about it since I was 2 and a half years old, I can also bear to see movies at home on TV, but I can't imagine being able to replace paper with digital format.
Cineforum will never be a mass magazine, because cinema itself is no longer a mass phenomenon, so ours might seem like a crazy bet, especially in these times of profound general crisis. But I am convinced that all this will not disappear and that there is a sufficiently large niche already loyal with which to pursue this challenge.
You partially anticipated a question I wanted to ask you: what kind of audience would you like to reach with the new Cineforum? Niche cinephiles or even simple fans?
I obviously appeal to the widest possible audience. As I said before, the public who frequented cinemas on average is a niche audience, I think it is the same one who consumes publications of film criticism. The real challenge will be to reach the very young audience. For me it is essential that the magazine is well written and should avoid the strictly academic slant, precisely to be usable by as many people as possible.
Do you want to tell us how this collaboration with the Italian Cineforum Foundation has developed over the years?
I have been working with Cineforum since 1980, in recent years I wrote less for other work commitments, but I have always been a collaborator on the editorial board. Ironically, the arrival of the pandemic gave us a push to change: together with the former director of Cineforum Adriano Piccardi and the people who deal with site, we started thinking about what to do to give new life to the magazine. For mainly economic reasons we were no longer able to publish 10 issues a year, we decided to become a quarterly of in-depth analysis and reflection, but which was not completely disconnected from current events.
I congratulate you on number 0 and ask you how the magazine is structured and what is new.
What I call the "burned reviews" go to the site, while the quarterly will include more reasoned pieces, but without excluding single long reviews of the films.
In number 0 there are in fact the reviews of Mank and One Night In Miami that were available on the streaming platforms at that time. In the next issue there will be even four. Next week I'll start jotting down a list of releases between April and the end of June. With covid, programming content has become quite a complex job. For example, when I started making these lists last fall they kept moving Spielberg's new James Bond and West Side Story. It is a disaster for our work.
The rest of the magazine collects columns that will grow over time. In number 0 there were two: Beautiful and Damned edited by Gianni Amelio, in which we treat films undervalued by critics or the public, e The Long Goodbye which takes care of remembering the greats of cinema who have just passed away.
Then there are the thematic insights such as Italian landscapes that will accompany us throughout the year. We decided to discover how the landscape is configured, not only geographic but also human, and how contemporary Italian cinema reflects the changes in various areas of Italy. In issue 0 we explored the Triveneto, because it is one of the areas where this transformation is most evident and it is the one that has had a very substantial and interesting film production in the last 10 years, both numerically and qualitatively.
Another thematic section dedicated to the history of cinema is Stardust Memories and Gli Anni della Fenice on the relationship between cinema and literature. Then of course there is First floor which deals with the theme of the issue.
In issue 0 there is an article on We Are Who We Are by Luca Guadagnino. For years we have seen an exponential growth, both in terms of quality and numbers, of serial products. As Cineforum will you always give space to quality TV series?
In this specific case we have inserted it because, having been filmed in Chioggia, it fell back inside Italian landscapes. In the next issue, however, there will be no talk of any television series. If a product comes out that can be linked to one of the topics covered, that's fine, but it won't be a regular appointment of the magazine, while you will find more reviews of this type on the site. The problem with TV series is that if you want to review them you should see them all, but if a work of great authorial value comes out, we will obviously talk about it.
And do you like TV series? Do you ever go binge-watching in your spare time?
I used to watch a lot more series once, now I can't keep up. I only have Netflix and I always have little time: in this period I am giving a series of lessons on science fiction cinema for TV movies and to prepare myself about a lot of DVDs. But I like the series and I am passionate about it. I find that American series have reached levels of language that cinema often no longer has. I never liked seeing them waiting a week for the next episode. When I saw The Sopranos I did binge watching in a month in August. For me it is the most beautiful series that has ever been made: it is pure Shakespeare in serial format, formidable!
The number 1 will have a special dedicated to communism. Can you give us some anticipation on what we will find in the magazine?
The main theme will be Soviet and Russian cinema from the 1950s to today and its echo in contemporary cinema. We will also have the reviews of Promising Young Woman, Judas and the Black Messiah, Collective, Extraliscio, the film by Elisabetta Sgarbi that had been presented in Venice and which will be released in the summer both in theaters and in streaming. For the address book The Long Goodbye there will be a tribute to the great Christopher Plummer. We will have a third column by our historic collaborator Gualtiero De Marinis who returns to Cineforum after almost 20 years.
Italian landscapes it will be dedicated to Puglia and a new thematic section called Big screen.
I couldn't help but notice that almost all of the articles are written by men. Will there be more space in the future for female voices within the editorial team?
It depends on how they write! Unfortunately, the speech is always the same: how many women do film criticism? During the last festival I directed in 2019, pressure began to include in the programs as many films directed by women as by men. No way! If I get 100 films, 10 of which by directors and 90 by directors, does it seem possible that I can find 5 good ones for men and 5 good ones for women? How many people are there who do that job? Why aren't women being directors and critics?
The problem is always upstream. Four years ago I participated in a debate on a research concerning women enrolled in film schools in Italy that started with an analysis of how many women and men were enrolled in the Experimental Center to study directing: when they got to graduation it was the same number. A few years later, the number of people who had asked for the good quality of the Ministry for the debut film was checked and the women were almost all gone. Almost all of you go to work as television directors. Same goes for the critics: if there are women who write well and are not competitive, I am happy to include them in the editorial office, but there are many fewer. That is the question.
Historically, even in the newspapers there have been only 3 criticisms: Bignardi, Tornabuoni and Aspesi, of which only one that really came from the cinema. Today there are only Maria Rosa Mancuso from Il Foglio and very few others.
Connecting to the previous question, I would like to ask you what do you think of the evolution of certain criticism in a feminist key that very often uses parameters such as the representation of minorities or gender and class profiling (straight male, wealthy white woman) as a yardstick for television or cinematographic works.
That's right and it's okay that there is. But for example, I find that the Oscars inclusivity rules that will come into force in 2022 are absurd. (the Academy has drawn up a regulation for the admissibility of the works to ensure greater plurality and inclusion, Ed.)
There are texts from 1970s American feminism on the image of women and men, stereotypes, socio-economic and cultural conditions that have determined the current situation and are all fundamental and important. In those years I was friends with two militant feminist film critics, but they never wrote a film review based on these parameters. To liquidate or appreciate too much a film because it is directed by a woman is not good. For example, I loved Regina King's One night in Miami very much, but it is not true that you can see that it is directed by a woman. If there is a macho in contemporary American cinema, it is Kathryn Bigelow!
Now we have reached other levels of hysteria and a new level of McCarthyism which I find dangerous. It's like when after the Nazis they wanted to burn Leni Riefenstahl's films: ideologically I couldn't be further from that woman, but she made great films. In the present I think it is inadmissible to want to censor or cancel the works of great artists such as Roman Polanski or Woody Allen.
And now the $ 1 million question: the Lumière brothers said that cinema was an invention with no future and we cinephiles have always made fun of them. In 2021, one year after the pandemic began, can we say that they were right? Or rather, cinema as a language will certainly survive, but what will be the future of cinemas and cinema viewing?
In my opinion, the pandemic has dramatically accelerated a process that was already underway: the crisis of cinemas, their disappearance from city centers. For example Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Milan was the street of the cinemas, now they have all disappeared. And this is a point on which the state should have considered for some time. In France this happens much less, because they are more protectionist than us: until recently they had a law that provided that they could not change the intended use of closed theaters or cinemas. With us instead they become clothing stores or Apple Stores. In addition, they have economic aid for restructuring and technological adaptation. It is no coincidence that the French film industry is the most powerful in Europe.
I am convinced that once we have recovered from the pandemic and after an initial period of inevitable adjustment and with sufficient government aid, the room will continue to exist in a different way than before.
In big cities a very interesting trend is emerging which is that of multiprogramming, that is, a different programming day by day or even hour by hour. This, together with small events such as first-run films in the original language, meetings, screenings of classics and other events, could be the future because the audience for the cinema is there, but exhibitors must understand that it is necessary to win back the public and create new ones. The role of distributors will be important, as they often do not facilitate the work of exhibitors. They should be aware that with digital their category is less and less useful and their role is at risk of extinction.
It is necessary to take care of the product in all its aspects. In recent years, many exhibitors have also become too relaxed: there are rooms that have a very bad sound, almost worse than the home system. We hope that when / if cinemas reopen in June, not only poor products will come out, otherwise it is clear that people will not return to the theater. However, it is undeniable that the view in the living room is different from that on the sofa at home. As for the criticism, I assure you that the experience of online festivals leaves incredible frustration: there is no exchange of ideas, discussion with colleagues and above all the atmosphere.