3rd Cinecittà Italian Doc Season at Bertha DocHouse: part of 100th anniversary of Istituto Luce

This year is the 100th anniversary of Istituto Luce, one of the most important cultural and historical institutions in Italy, whose film and photographic heritage, an immense archival heritage among the richest on the continent, is today preserved and curated by Cinecittà.

The birth of Istituto Luce dates back to 1924 when Italy, like other countries, started exploring a powerful communication medium: film. Since then, Luce has documented all the country’s historical and social stages, becoming a unique shelter for the preservation of Italy’s audiovisual imagery. As well as a cause for celebration, this special 100th anniversary year is also a tribute to Istituto Luce’s unique film archive.

The Luce film archive safeguards a century of collective memory, fixed in moving images calculated in millions of film metres. This precious and vast film heritage includes newsreels and documentaries dating from 1924, as well as current affairs magazines, documentary collections, and footage purchased gradually over the years. This film and photographic archive has been registered by UNESCO in their “Memory of the World Programme”.

It is therefore appropriate that the 3rd bi-annual CINECITTÀ ITALIAN DOC SEASON comprises three important and acclaimed documentaries that look to the future whilst retaining echoes of the past. One is a compelling investigative documentary, one is an intimate and very personal self-exploration, one honours the value of storytelling and remembrance though archive. These three films will screen at London’s Bertha DocHouse 20 – 21 July.

The 2024 summer edition of CINECITTÀ ITALIAN DOC SEASON comprises:

UK Premiere: FOOD FOR PROFIT (dir: Pablo D’Ambrosi, Giulia Innocenzi, Italy)
This feature documentary denounces how intensive farms mistreat animals, pollute the environment and pose a potential danger for future pandemics. Taking a cinematic approach for an investigative documentary, the filmmakers take us on an enlightening but shocking journey, where they confront farmers, corporations and politicians, exposing the truth behind the perceived excellence of the dairy and meat that’s produced and consumed across the continent – a compelling narrative that spotlights the abuse of animals and the environmental risks that can occur when the priority is profit.

UK Premiere: FRAGMENTS OF A LIFE LOVED (dir: Chloé Barreau, Italy)
Filmmaker Chloé Barreau exhaustively documented her love affairs since the age of 16, as she lived between Paris and Rome. In this documentary, she retraces her personal history and reconstructs her love life through interviews with 12 of her exes, ranging from one-night stands to longer-lasting relationships with both men and women, discovering the disparate points of view between her archival recordings and her interviewees’ memories. Nominated for Best International Documentary at Hot Docs and the Queer Lion at the Venice Film Festival, it’s a fascinating testament to what it is to love and be loved.

UK Premiere: THE SECRET DRAWER (dir: Costanza Quatriglio, Italy/Switzerland)
In 2010, award-winning filmmaker Costanza Quatriglio began chronicling her aging father, a noted Sicilian journalist, author and globetrotter. In 2022, following his death, and after having chosen to donate his vast collection of books and archival materials to the central Library of Sicily, she begins a sentimental journey in the house where she was born and raised. Through photographs, 8mm film and audio recordings from the 1940s onwards, along with footage the director shot of her father 12 years prior, both a collective and personal memory come together – each remembrance tied not only to a life lived, but to a history of the 20th century. This absorbing documentary premiered in February at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The Italian documentary, in all its different creative and productive forms, has become one of the most emerging original genres in our country, conquering festivals worldwide with a new generation of authors,” says Enrico Bufalini, director of Archivo Luce-Cinecittà. “Cinecittà, the leading producer and distributor of Italian documentaries, has the mission of promoting them internationally. The collaboration with the prestigious Bertha DocHouse is a significant documentary review, bringing to the British audience a selection of documentaries focused on the diversity and vibrancy of Italian reality cinema. A new generation of filmmakers has reinterpreted the legacy of great Italian realism, leading it into a more contemporary and visionary dimension. The 3rd Italian Doc Season will bring to the British audience a new wave of outstanding independent cinema“.

Jenny Horwell, Bertha DocHouse director and programmer, adds: “We’re excited to collaborate with Cinecittà, celebrating the centenary of the Istituto Luce archive and bringing the UK premieres of three such contrasting works of Italian nonfiction to London.