Cinematic Naples

Since its origins at the beginning of the last century, Italian cinema has developed a strong link between the representation of its national territory and the definition of its national identity. From the end of World War II onwards, Italy has witnessed a major urban development that has considerably modified the social and cultural life of its citizens — cinema has been able to capture and represent this transformation through a fascinating and complex combination of the real and the imagined.

During these presentations, we will look at some films set in three major Italian cities — Milan, Venice and Naples — to examine how the vision of the urban spaces offered to the viewer represents a reflection of Italy and of its evolving cultural, social and political fabric. Each presentation will be dedicated to an individual city and will explore the related imagery through films beginning with the Fascist period through present times.

Cinematic Naples

Saturday, October 28, 2023

11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (CDT)

Presented in English  •  Live from Rome Via Zoom 

Naples is a city of contradictions, of ornate Baroque palazzos alongside derelict housing, of unrelenting and unruly traffic and an official unemployment rate of 21.5 percent, twice the national average. But it is also a city of culture, both highbrow and popular, and the birthplace of songs like “O sole mio” and “Santa Lucia.”

These days, the Neapolitan area is not only traversed by tourism reinforced by the international brand of Naples, but also has grown as a center of movie-making, being chosen as a set by many essential authors of Italian cinema and TV productions. In the 1950s and 1960s, Napoli, together with Roma, was the most filmed city for both art-house and popular genre films.

Our journey through the history of Neapolitan cinema begins with Elvira Coda Notari, the nation’s first film director and producer. Her work pointed to a representation of reality that would be constant in Italian cinema.

Italy emerged from World War II completely devastated and Naples was one of the most bombed cities in Europe. The need to tell about the rampant impoverishment was expressed by neorealist directors like Vittorio De Sica.

In the 1950s and 60s, the films that followed the long tradition of Neapolitan comedy brought to the screen funny stories basically concerned with the attempt to survive in a life of poverty.

Later in the 1990s, Neapolitan cinema resumed its preeminence, with the city generating a flood of images, stories, shapes and atmospheres interwoven into the cinematic frame by the work of the best contemporary Italian filmmakers.

Presented by Carolina Ciampaglia

Film scholar Carolina Ciampaglia teaches film studies and is the director of ItaliaIdea in Rome. She received her degree in modern languages and literature from the Università La Sapienza Roma, Laurea in 1984. She has also taught Italian cinema at both Cornell in Rome and DePaul University in Rome.

Register online with PayPal/credit card. The registration deadline for this presentation is October 26, 2023.


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