MasterClass Ettore Scola

in BIFEST - Bari International Film Festival

by Leo Bankersen

Renown master of cinema Ettore Scola (1931) seemed quite happy that so many young people had turned up to attend his masterclass. “Bari has one of the youngest film festival audiences in Italy”, he noted. He should know, of course, for he is the president of the Bari International Film Festival. All the same, this could make him less objective. So I looked around me in the crowded Petruzzelli Theater and indeed, a large portion of the audience would definitely not have been around when Scola earned international fame with “We All Loved Each Other So much / C’eravamo tanto amati” (1974) and “A Special Day /  Una giornata particolare” (1977).

On stage Scola proved himself an engaging storyteller who needed very little encouragement from the moderator. Starting with the Lumière brothers and Georges Méliès, he recalled how his career started as a writer, creating jokes for Toto. With a few large but supple steps he entered the field of cinema and politics. He still seemed satisfied that “The Terrace / La terrazza” (1980) managed to piss off quite a few people who recognized something of themselves in it.

Films ask us questions about ourselves, about our lives. So according to Scola most films are about politics in the broadest sense. Cinema is a way to nurture our views and ideas, that is its greatest strength. But he also observed that reflecting upon the world has become more and more difficult. It used to be clear who was to blame; now the reality has become too difficult to explain. He also noticed a lack of role models for the current generation of filmmakers.

“It’s not easy to love Italy today”, he pondered. “And Renzi is not going to save the country.” A couple of years ago Scola even declared he would not make films any more while Berlusconi was so powerfully in control of media and financing.

But now he has used his masterclass to make an appeal to the younger generation, not to give up hope and to start building new horizons. “You have the energy and the responsibility. The country needs your help, you can change things. It’s not necessary to go to war like in the old days, but we need your ideas and the love for your country. Try to infuse your personality in everything you do, be it as a filmmaker or as a carpenter. You may feel alone at first, but when you start dealing with this you will find others that want to help. Sharing you questions is the first step.”

His encouragements were met by lots of applause. Were people just being polite or did Scola really strike a chord? I had to know, so after the masterclass I checked with a few of those youngsters from the audience. “Yes, yes”, they confirmed without hesitation. “He is inspiring!”

MasterClass Ettore Scola, Bari, Teatro Petruzzelli, March 24, 2015.