Even cinephiles far and away from Sydney, Australia, have good reason to celebrate the return of Cinema Reborn to the Ritz Cinemas Randwick. The festival’s dedicated collective of volunteer programmers, filmmakers, historians, and critics has not only selected new and recent restorations of sixteen features and three shorts, it’s also made its program, with notes on each feature, its director, and the restoration, freely available worldwide.
The fifth edition of Cinema Reborn opens on Wednesday with Vittorio De Sica’s Shoeshine (1946). “While it may utilize Roman streets, slums, and outlying locations with more grit than a Warner Bros. juvenile-delinquent vehicle of the 1930s,” wrote Bill Weber for Slant in 2011, “the travails of postwar shoeshine boys and buddies Pasquale (sensitive Franco Interlenghi) and Giuseppe (feisty Rinaldo Smordoni) jibe pretty well with the troubles of the Dead End Kids.” In the Cinema Reborn program, Dan Harper writes about De Sica’s oddly uneven oeuvre and the late Peter von Bagh suggests that Shoeshine is a “new version” of “the two worlds of Jean Vigo,” one of “grownups and their war, fascism, and corruption” and the other of children, “largely invisible, hidden, a dream.”
Rod Bishop notes that Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1987), the centerpiece presentation, has “aged majestically,” and Darcy Paquet calls Kim Ki-young’s Ieoh Island (1977), the closing night film, “one of Korean cinema’s most compelling, unnerving depictions of the primal forces that drive humankind.” The program also features director Claudia von Alemann’s notes on her 1981 feature, Blind Spot; critic Lukas Foerster on German musical comedies from the early 1930s; Adrian Martin on Kira Muratova and The Long Farewell (1971); Hamish Ford on Ousmane Sembène and Black Girl (1966); and Adrian Danks on Orson Welles and The Trial (1962). Cinema Reborn 2023 will wrap up on May 2, but the program is a keeper.
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