Every summer, our students have the amazing opportunity to visit amazing places as part of our travel courses. For the last few years, Dr. Emily Carman has taken a select group of students to Il Cinema Ritrovato, a fantastic, outdoor film festival in Bologna, Italy.

The festival, which is organized every summer by the Cineteca di Bologna, is dedicated to the rediscovery of rare films, with a focus on cinema origins and the silent movie period. It is the biggest festival in the world based around showing films that have gone through an intensive, restoration process. While it was originally founded in 1986 as a three-day event, it has since grown larger, and is now longer than a week.

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Cineteca di Bologna, the film restoration facility that puts on the festival, has gained much prominence in recent years, as the archival company has expanded its offices to include a branch in Hong Kong. It is also an international point of reference for restoration techniques, as they have developed many methodologies about their work, and constantly does research work into the world of restoration.

According to their website, the equipment their lab is at the forefront of technological innovation and is designed for the restoration of film from every cinematic age, from 4K to photochemical. Carmen’s class had the chance to tour the facility to see just how much meticulous work goes into restoring a movie.

“Being able to see how they handle these delicate, hundred-year-old films was an amazing opportunity,” said Kaylin George (BFA/Film Production ’19). “Just watching them take the time to slowly do each step of the restoration process gave me a new appreciation for what they do.”

In addition to a tour of the facility, led by their guides Guilia and Francesa, the students were treated to lectures by industry professionals, who talked about the future of film, discussing the pros and cons of shooting a movie digitally versus on film, and new technological advancements that will be available for future generations of filmmakers.

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Of course, the class also watched many hours of movies, including Modern Times (with the city orchestra accompanying), The Band Wagon (on 35mm film), and Ugestu, a Mizoguchi film that was recently restored by the Film Foundation. They stayed at the Hotel Commercianti, which was conveniently located next to the Piazza Maggiore, the central hub of Bologna and the venue for the 1,000-seat outdoor theater.

“I really enjoyed excavating some of the lost cinematic classics of world film history during this class,” said George. “If you get the chance to go with Professor Carman to Italy, or on any other study abroad retreat through Dodge, you’ll have one of the most memorable experiences of your life. I can’t advocate it enough.”