Moving between the festival's three cinemas as well as the giant screen erected in the Piazza Maggiore for evening screenings, I sampled the festival's different programmes seeing John Ford's silent films, Stanley Donen's musicals, restored colour films, the adventurous women of silent
cinema, and a programme of films from the 1910s that spanned travel films, science films and the grand dramatic displays of Alberto Capellani's Notre-Dame de Paris and Les Miserables.
As is always the way with film festivals, I couldn't see it all, missing as many films as I saw. My discoveries, however, made me forget the things I couldn't see. Highlights included John Ford's Three Bad Men (1926) screened in Bologna's Piazza Maggiore to a new score composed by Timothy
Brock and performed by the Orchestra del Teatro Communale di Bologna. Ford's tale of the Dakota land rush of 1877 was revitalised by a score that had me jumping out of my chair with excitement in the film's most climactic scenes, while its stunning cinematography inspired a new love affair with the western that was only compounded by the following day's restored cinerama screening of Delmer Daves' Jubal (1956), starring a roll call of great leading men, Glenn Ford, Rod Steiger, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson. The first time I had ever seen a film in all its cinerama glory, I was quite dumbfounded by the wide expanses of the American West spread before me. Finally, one of the greatest pleasures of the festival was the programme of Stanley Donen musicals, and particularly Its Always Fair Weather (1955) featuring Gene Kelly tap dancing in roller skates. A sentimental plot about the reunion of three war buddies ten years after they are demobilised is of little consequence in a film that has Gene Kelly, Dan Daily, Michael Kidd, and Cyd Charisse dancing their way through the bars, boxing rings, and streets of New York.
As important as a festival like 'Il Cinema Ritrovato' is for the scholarly appreciation and study of films from the world's archives, for me at least, it is the festival's ability to reignite some of the pure joys of cinema-going that really sets it apart from other festivals. Live scores, cinerama, and the joy of discovery make it not just another week sat inside dark theatres, when others would be enyoying the Italian sunshine, but a week that reminds you of the excitement of the cinematic experience.