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Cinemari

Nominated for Best Feature Documentary

Directed by Julian Civiero

46' • Italy • 2022

Italian

A documentary that follows the journey of cinema in rural Italy. In the 1940s and 50s in Abruzzo, long before television arrived in small villages, the CINEMARI were the men who brought outdoor cinema, ‘il cinema in piazza’, to the village festival. Back in the 50’s going to the movies was the most popular past-time in Italy. Nearly every small village had its own ‘cinema di paese' run either by a local family or the parish. Italians went to see films more than almost any other nation in Europe. In a time when few other sources of entertainment were available, the cinema was the default choice for young people looking to escape the routine of their daily lives. These communal experiences slowly lost their ground with the advent of television in 1954 and the growth of car ownership. When people could watch films in the comfort of their own homes free of charge, and could leave town for other diversions such as music concerts and sports, cinema admissions began a gradual decline before dropping off dramatically in the 1960s and 70s. Unable to compete with these new forms of entertainment, cinemas nationwide began to close. Especially hard-hit were the family run village cinemas. This reflects the trend that affected the cinema industry worldwide. Abruzzo boasts a mountainous geography with many small, remote and ancient villages scattered in hard-to-reach areas. At this point the 'cinemaro' came into his own becoming a key player who brought the movies to these places and whose arrival in his distinctive van was always keenly anticipated. This figure soon became a well-respected member of the community. Their stories illustrate a time of innocence when the magic and mystery of cinema was a world away from the hard lives of labour in the fields. Every Abruzzese has their own memory of the 'cinema in piazza', it’s part of the traditional life of the village. In this documentary, I seek to show the world how passionate the 'cinemari' were are about their work and the role of cinema in the cultural life of the community. This documentary works to capture a cultural practice unique to the region, and documents the key players who brought the movies to these places. The importance of the cinemari may not be recognised outside of Abruzzo, but their work and dedication had a significant impact locally, as the emotional reactions by those who remember them, can confirm. I hope that the narrative structure of my film will help to reveal and reinforce those processes of social and cultural change effectively, and also witness the valuable perspectives of practitioners of an unusual, and now almost extinct, trade. These really are the last few remaining men still doing it.