Fest fetes Italian silents

'Divas' series has titles likely never seen in U.S.

ROME — As part of the upcoming New York Film Festival, the Bologna Cinematheque will collaborate with Lincoln Center to present restored prints of 15 Italian features from the silent period showcasing the great screen actresses of the time.

Curated by Bologna Cinematheque vice director Gianluca Farinellic and Italo-American film scholar Angela Dalle Vacche, the “Passion and Defiance: Silent Divas of Italian Cinema” series contains titles rarely or never before seen in the U.S. They feature such pre-sound divas as Lyda Borelli, Italia Almirante Manzini and Francesca Bertini. Included in the lineup is “Cenere” from 1917, the only film ever made starring Eleonora Duse.

“This was a cinema that often featured a woman in a central, defining role,” said Richard Pena, program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. “A woman who, in her willingness to project her sexuality and in her refusal to accept societal norms, became the very symbol of the modern age.”

Covering the period from 1914-28, the films will unspool with live accompaniment from Italian musicians. The majority of titles were restored by the Bologna Cinematheque, which has the world’s largest collection of Italian silent films.

Series runs Sept. 23-Oct. 6, opening with “Rapsodia satanica,” starring Borelli.

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