Repertory Picks

Gente del Po and More Antonioni Docs

On Film / In Theaters — Apr 5, 2012

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.