This course focuses on the effects on Italian cinema of the spread of commercial television in Italy in the mid-seventies. Since the beginning (1954), Italian television had been primarily an educational tool in the hands of the State. Programming was primarily focused on elevating the masses from a level of ignorance and disinformation, almost unknown in other parts of Europe (in post war Italy, illiteracy was still a huge problem, especially in large areas of the South).
Daily television shows included TV news, documentaries, drama and classical concerts. The only forms of entertainment were the weekly feature movie and quiz show. There were no commercial interruptions during the shows and commercials were actually grouped altogether in a ten minute special evening interruption. Obviously this kind of television was not in competition with cinema. Everything changed in 1975 when a number of privately owned channels were allowed to broadcast at a local level. These channels were proposing programs that focused only on entertainment (sports, movies, soap operas, quiz shows, etc.) and consequently both RAI, the state owned television, and cinema had to start facing the aggressive competition of these new channels.
In this course, we will first pay attention to the way in which cinema reacted to the invasion of commercial television and then we will analyze the work of two film-makers (Gianni Amelio and Fernan Ozpetek) who grew up in the new cultural environment of the '70‘s and analyze whether their movies have been influenced by the new kind of narration that commercial television imposed on audiences through soap operas, TV movies and TV series.
The concurrent NICE film festival in November at SIFF will allow us to screen some very recent (2010-2011) movies by first-time directors and continue the discussion on the influence of television on the youngest generation. Attendance to the festival is mandatory.