Greetings from Bologna, Italy, where the Cineteca di Bologna’s annual festival of archival films, Il Cinema Ritrovato, is about halfway through. I’ve helped to program a selection of rarely seen Raoul Walsh films, and today had the pleasure of presenting the first public screening of MOMA’s newly restored print of Walsh’s 1932 comic western “Wild Girl.” There are a lot of other interesting series going on here, including a Lois Weber retrospective, a survey of the work of a stylistically accomplished but unabashedly Stalinist Soviet-era director named Ivan Py’rev (curated by Olaf Moeller), films related to the stock market collapse of 1929, a survey of the films of 1912, some rareties from Jean Gremillon, and too much else to mention. It’s really a remarkable event — an opportunity to see some of the latest preservation work from around the world, as well as to pass time with a warm community of journalists, scholars, archivists, distributors and filmmakers. If you ever have a chance to attend, don’t pass it by.
This week’s New York Times column takes the home video release of “The Artist” as an opportunity to encourage readers to see some genuine silent films, with Criterion’s recent release of Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” serving as a convenient example of same. Here in Bologna, where an open air screening of the 1930 Louise Brooks film “Prix de beaute” can fill the medieval town square, it’s hard to believe that the whole world doesn’t revolve around black and white films. I suspect it would be a nicer place if it did.