Streamed May 12 through May 18
Italy’s film production in the pre-sound era, arguably the most impressive in early film history, was famous not only for the beauty of its images but also for its powerful female stars, or divas. In Assunta Spina—a primordial tale of a fateful love triangle, based on a 1909 play by Salvatore Di Giacomo—diva Francesca Bertini (who also codirected the film with exceptional skill and sensitivity) stars as Assunta, a beautiful Neapolitan laundress torn between two men. “Assunta Spina was shot in fall 1914 in Naples, and during its filming the city itself became its uncredited protagonist: the picture shows the city’s soul, scrutinizes its every aspect, realistically portraying the serenity and beauty of its most colorful areas, the chaotic frenzy of its neighborhoods and markets . . . [and] the spirit of Neapolitans, emphasizing their exuberance and passion . . . a stereotyped picture no doubt, but one that escapes cliché through the honesty of the camera.”—Giovanni Lasi. (Gustavo Serena and Francesca Bertini, 1915, 67 minutes)
From the collection of Cineteca di Bologna, Assunta Spina was restored by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory and displays the original color tints and tones. With recorded music by Guido Sodo and François Laurent based on a Neapolitan tradition. Special thanks to Carmen Accaputo.