Craig Fansler, Wake Forest University 2015-11-24 11:25:47
Every archives has a niche and attempts through collection development policies to build a strong body of scholarly material that strengthens their collection focus. On the other hand, archives also are gifted with unique collections outside their areas of scholarship. Although these collections are distinct from an archives' collection focus, they offer materials that add significantly to the scholarly importance of the archives. The Special Collections and Archives in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library (ZSR) of Wake Forest University acquired one of these collections: the Giuseppe De Santis Papers (https://wakespace.lib.wfu.edu/handle/10339/27840), a collection of film materials, photographs, and scripts from the career of a relatively unknown Italian film director. Dr. Antonio Vitti, a professor of Italian at Wake Forest University and author of Giuseppe De Santis and Postwar Italian Cinema (1996) engineered the acquisition of the De Santis Papers at the ZSR Library. Early Life De Santis was bom in February 1917 in Fondi, a small town south of Rome. After attending boarding school, he went to the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, a film school started by Mussolini, in 1935. While in film school, De Santis also wrote for the magazine Cinema as a film critic and columnist. His column, "Film di questi giomi" (Today's Films), which he started in 1942, became an important critique of pre-World War II Italian film.(1) To develop and write about his vision for film. De Santis took inspiration and guidance from his talented group of friends—young filmmakers and writers at Cinema, including Michelangelo Antonioni, Domenico Purificato, Mario Puccini, Carlo Lizzani, Pietro Ingrao, Francesco Pasinetti, Antonio Pietrangeli, Mario Alicata, and Luchino Visconti. De Santis and his friends spoke out against the politically charged films of 1940s fascist Italy and called for a more realistic approach. In Giuseppe De Santis and Postwar Italian Cinema, Vitti wrote, “Through his weekly article in Cinema, De Santis developed a coherent and continuous dialogue whose goal was the promotion of a new type of cinema that would supersede the dominant, confining aesthetic of 1940s Italy, a cinema with a well-defined political and social goal.”(2) This group became the founders of the Italian Neorealism film movement and included Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica. Career De Santis went on to work with a number of well-known actors and actresses, including Peter Falk, Yves Montand, Claudia Cardinale, Silvana Mangano, and Marcello Mastroianni. Much of his film work focused on the life of the Italian peasant. He directed films that depicted the need for social reform and illustrated the difficulties Italian women faced when coping with a changing culture that held on to old prejudices and stereotypes. De Santis’s films portrayed well-defined social contrasts, often with good versus evil characterizations. De Santis's success was followed by defeat: His Neorealist colleagues excluded him from filmmaking, partly due to his focus on eroticism and melodrama. “Ten films over the course of seventeen years (1947-1964), numbering among them some of the most famous in the history of Italian cinema, followed by a retreat from the set which continued practically until his death.” De Santis died in Rome in May 1997, and the country declared a national day of mourning. The De Santis Papers The De Santis Papers are housed in the Department of Special Collections and Archives and a finding aid, which includes an inventory of the director’s film stills, screenplays, manuscripts, and research, is available online at https://wakespace.lib.wfu.edu/handle/10339/27840. Photographs from the collection highlighting actors, production, and sets are digitized and online as part of the Giuseppe De Santis Film Stills Collection (https://wakespace.lib.wfu.edu/handle/10339/16244). For the ZSR Library, the De Santis Papers were unexpected but cherished; they illuminate the life and work of this one-ofa- kind filmmaker and the turbulent time in which he lived. Notes (1) Vitti, Antonio, Giuseppe De Santis and Postwar Italian Cinema (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996): x-xi. (2) Ibid, 14. (3) Grossi, Marco, ed., Giuseppe De Santis: The Transfiguration of Reality (Rome: Associazone Giuseppe De Santis and Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, 2007): 19. Giuseppe De Santis: Filmography as Director • 1942: La Gatta (The Cat) • 1947: Caccia Tragica (Tragic Pursuit)—received the Prize of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers for the best Italian film at the 1947 Venice Film Festival • 1948: Riso Amaro (Bitter Rice)—nominated for an Oscar for best original story for 1950 • 1949: Non C'e Pace tra Gli Ulivi (No Peace Under the Olive Tree) • 1952: Roma, Ore 11 (Rome, 11 o'clock) • 1953: Un Marito per Anna Zaccheo (A Husband for Anna Zaccheo) • 1953: Giorni d'Amore (Days of Love) • 1955: Uomini e Lupi (Men and Wolves) • 1958: La Strada Lunga Un Anno (The Road a Year Long)—won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film of 1958 • I960: La Gargonniere (The Love Nest) • 1964: Italiani Brava Gente (Attack and Retreat) • 1972: Un Apprezzato Professionista di Sicuro Avvenire (An Esteemed Professional with a Secure Future)
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