The cinematic tradition has always been a voyeuristic one. Whether it’s bodies or architecture, film is wholly concerned with the inquisitive studying of any given thing. Perhaps the most salient of those admirations is of cities. Before narrative film became a mainstay of cinema, travelogues were often the most admired of cinematic experiences. With just a single nickel audiences could experience the humid swamps of the Amazon or the arid deserts of the Wild West. Further still, patrons of the travelogue could travel to another city, take in the sights and explore the culture, all in the safety and comfort of the local nickelodeon.
That fascination with the Other locale has enabled the travelogue to evolve and coalesce with the narrative film, creating beautiful odes to beloved cities. This cultural filmic admiration has existed between many locales–New York and Paris, Buenos Aires and Italy, and Los Angeles and Berlin are just a few. But few other cities showcase this cross-culture homage better than New York and Italy–at least that’s the sentiment expressed by the Italian consulate general on a warm, sunny afternoon on the Upper West Side.
The Open Roads series was just kicking off in conjunction with the Film Society at Lincoln Center, celebrating new Italian Cinema in all its nascent beauty at the classy Leopard at Des Artistes. Whether it is a documentary exploring the rise of exorcisms in rural Italy or a Hitchcockian murder-mystery set at a G8 Summit, the festival offers a wide variety of filmic pleasures that will leave one reeling with cinephilic delight. With so many of the entries having already won acclaim in international festivals like Venice or the Berlinale, the Open Roads cinema offers American viewers the opportunity to sample some of the best that Italian cinema has to offer.
The Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series will be running from June 1 to June 7. Check out the line-up here.