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The neorealist roots of Michelangelo Antonioni’s art are on full display this weekend at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image. The series Antonioni Documentaries is the culmination of a string of events in New York over the past week marking the centenary year of the director’s birth, including a symposium at New York University’s Casa Italiana and a conference at Queens College. In addition to showing a 35 mm print of the Italian director’s rarely screened, four-hour documentary Chung Kuo China (April 7 and 8), a 1972 portrait of Chinese workers and farmers made during the country’s Cultural Revolution, the Museum is offering a wide-ranging program of Antonioni’s nonfiction shorts, from 1943’s Gente del Po (People of the Po Valley), his first film, to 1997’s Sicilia.
Gente del Po—which is available as a supplement on our special edition of Antonioni’s Red Desert, along with N.U. (1948), also showing in the program—is a hushed, evocative, eleven-minute sketch of the daily toils of fishermen on the River Po. Even in this minor-key debut, with its plangent, gorgeous compositions, you can see the seeds of Antonioni’s style. “Everything that I made afterwards, either good or bad, starts from there, from this film on the River Po,” the director once said. Watch the entire film below.