The professors behind the fifth edition of ‘Cinema Ritrovato’ at UNH


Courtesy of the @cinemaritrovatonh Instagram.

DURHAM, NH- Nicole Gercke (left), and Amy Boylan (right) pictured before the fourth installation of the UNH “Cinema Ritrovato.”

Sophia Schlichtmann, Contributing Writer

DURHAM — The “Cinema Ritrovato,” has returned for its fifth year at the University of New Hampshire. The festival features “rediscovered cinema,” that originates from various cultures, and holds meanings with relevance to modern society.

 Behind the festival are two UNH Professors: Dr Nicole Gercke and Dr. Amy Boylan. The festival originated in Bologna, Italy, and is featured on the six week UNH study abroad program to the Italian city. 

Gercke is a lecturer in the Department of Classics, Humanities and Italian studies. She is the director of the UNH study abroad program in Bologna, Italy. Gercke lived in Bologna for several years for her Ph.D. program at Brown University. Gercke’s advisor at Brown brought the first “Cinema Ritrovato” on tour to the United States. Gercke said she was “super happy, and lucky,” to assist with the first Cinema Ritrovato on Brown’s campus in Providence, Rhode Island. 

Gercke worked with Brown’s installation of “Cinema Ritrovato,” for several years before deciding to bring it to UNH. Almost all who bring the festival to their campuses are former students of Gercke’s professor at Brown. 

Until this year, UNH has been one of three universities to hold the film festival in the United States. Gercke states that the festival’s “success,” stems from its original tour at her alma mater. 

When Gercke brought the festival to UNH, Boylan then, “jumped on board,” at the opportunity to get involved. 

Boylan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Classics, Humanities and Italian studies. She teaches courses in Italian language, cinema and Italian-American culture and history. 

“We’ve done this [festival] together for the past six years but this is the fifth edition. “It took one year to get our legs under us,” said Boylan. 

Guy Borlée, the coordinator of the festival in Bologna came to inaugurate the first edition of the festival at UNH in 2019. He has been “fundamental,” in planning the festival since then, said Gercke. “We have a really good and close relationship with the Cineteca di Bologna– the huge festival that takes place in Bologna.” 

The name “Cinema Ritrovato,” translates into English as “rediscovered cinema.” 

The Cineteca di Bologna, which runs “Cinema Ritrovato,” is one of the leading laboratories of film restoration in the world. Four hundred to 500 films are screened every year at the festival in Bologna. Some films screened at the festival include classics, such as “Una giornata particolare,” starring well renowned actress, Sophia Loren. These classics are not only from Italy, but all over the world. 

Cinema Ritrovato wants to “showcase super classics that have been lovingly and meticulously restored,” said Gercke. “Rediscovered also means giving a wider distribution to films that haven’t been so widely seen in the past.” 

The films screened at the festival originate from different countries and cultures.

“A lot of film history has been centered on the U.S and Europe, and so a big project of the “Cinema Ritrovato…” is to bring to light some of the very beautiful, important, wonderful cinema from the rest of the world–not eurocentric, or U.S centric,” said Gercke. 

The festival in Bologna has screenings, workshops and academic presentations in addition to the viewings of the films. Each film is introduced by someone connected to it. At UNH’s installation of the festival, a director, an actor or someone who has been intimately involved in the making or curation of the film will introduce it to the audience, just as the festival in Bologna does. 

“We have three in person academic talks throughout the week [of the festival], and some online before certain screenings by either scholars who work particularly on a certain director,” said Boylan. 

Many of the films screened at the festival have elements that were controversial at the time of their release, such as the film, “Daisies.” 

“Upon its release in 1966, this provocative and anarchic film [“Daisies”] was pulled from theaters by the Czech government among accusations of nihilism. It follows the destructive activities of two young women who want to bring about radical change, with its satirical tone providing social commentary on modern society,” according to the Cinema Ritrovato page

Boylan said it is important to screen films of controversial nature. “It gives contemporary people a different perspective on recent history…we can also look critically at these films…at the problematic aspects…and try to get a three dimensional perspective,” she said . 

This year’s installation of the festival at UNH is completely free and open to the public. 

“We wanted to be able to provide an experience for the community as public educators and having it be free and open was really important to us…I think that’s been a goal of ours since the beginning,” said Boylan. 

“I think it’s wonderful to bring films that wouldn’t necessarily be on people’s radar or be accessible to them–it’s a chance to see films that are interesting, different, challenging, frustrating, and also very beautiful,” said Gercke. 

Second year journalism and Italian studies double major, Hailey Keel attended the original Bologna festival last summer through UNH’s study abroad program that is centered around Cinema Ritrovato.

“Since I went to the real Cinema Ritrovato in Italy, it was amazing to see many cultures and identities all come for the same reason- film,” said Keel. I like “Cinema Ritrovato” because it gives recognition to the UNH Italian program here on campus. It’s a very small department, so the festival makes us feel heard.” 

The festival closely follows the concept of an Italian “piazza,” or common space where people gather. 

“I feel like the Cinema Rivato–this collective experience does take place famously in Italy, in this piazza…you might not know everyone there, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a place to be with other people and experience the same,” said Gercke. 

The 2023 installation of “Cinema Ritrovato,” will take place March 27th-31st at UNH. A full schedule for the festival can be found here.