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Artcambarga – the Gualtiero Jacopetti short film festival in Barga

Next month the first 6 films produced specially under the banner of ARTCAMBARGA will be screened here in Barga

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Gualtiero-JacopettiThe idea of a film festival in Barga has been put forward a number of times in the recent past.

Maybe now the time is ripe for it to become a reality.

The idea that was launched in 2011 was for a documentary film festival to celebrate the work of the Italian film director Gualtiero Jacopetti (article here) although many people signed a petition on line nothing much happened after.

Since then the incredibly fast evolution of digital film cameras and dropping prices has now meant that making high definition films is no longer just for a small group of people with expensive equipment but has broadened out to be within the reach of many, many more people who with the aid of a relatively  inexpensive camera, a good idea, a good eye and of course, the internet , can now reach potentially a world audience.

Now is the time to broaden the idea of a film festival to include short films.

Next month the first 6 films produced specially under the banner of ARTCAMBARGA will be screened here in Barga

The name; ARTCAMBARGA  practically sums up in one word the aims of the project, that of making public some of the art produced here in Barga.

During the whole of August there will be 6 large monitors positioned in strategic places in Barga Vecchia.

These places will include: inside a studio window at Porta Reale, just inside Casa Cordati, Acchiappasogni,  the main window of Vaso Di Pandora Concept Store, the Galleria Marzocco and inside the palazzo opposite Palazzo Pancrazi

These monitors will be screening the work of 6 artists who have been filmed producing work specially for the project using a variety of mediums, from traditional canvas through to paper and pure digital marks.

Each film will last for just 30 minutes and will be on a constant loop for the whole time the project is running.




When the Italian film director Gualtiero Jacopetti who died almost three years at the age of 91, made Mondo Cane (A Dog’s Life) in 1962, he tapped into people’s curiosity and provided the strangest commercially successful film in the history of cinema. Audiences not yet accustomed to cheap air travel or the idea of globalisation were unprepared for technicolour National Geographic-style montages of “primitive” rites and “civilised” wrongs. The following year, they flocked to see the film’s sequels, Mondo Pazzo (Mad World, or Mondo Cane No 2) and La Donna nel Mondo (Women of the World).

Mondo Cane was a film made out of a compilation of pithy sequences depicting strange rituals from around the globe. But while Jacopetti documented the peculiarities of what was then regarded as the third world, he also mocked the alleged superiority of western culture. The stupidity of mass consumerism and the absurd delusions of elite culture suddenly seemed as bizarre as cargo cults and cannibalism. The ambiguity of any political message shocked critics but delighted the novelist JG Ballard, who included Jacopetti in his 1970 novel The Atrocity Exhibition.

The power of Mondo Cane came from a side-stepping of documentary neo-realist principles in favour of a hyper-realism dubbed “shockumentary” because of its brutal edits (“shock cuts” Jacopetti once remarked), rapid zooms, heightened post-production sound effects and sharp contrasts between mis-en-scene and musical score – the much-recorded ballad More (“More than the greatest love the world has known”, in Norman Newell’s English lyrics) comes from the film. Jacopetti’s narrations were resolutely satirical, amusing, sad and at all times contemptuously despairing of humanity’s failings.

Following these box office successes, Jacopetti and the anthropologist Franco Prosperi were able to embark upon Africa Addio (Farewell Africa, 1966), a brutal, sprawling document of the post-colonial continent. The team set out to record the decimation of African wildlife as unregulated poaching took a grip, but switched to capturing violent decolonisations in Angola, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda as revolution and counter-revolution exploded in their faces.

The film was heavily criticised at the time of release for its alleged racist portrayal of black African people as “savages”. Jacopetti was accused of “interfering” in the anti-colonial, nationalist uprisings and orchestrating executions to fit shooting schedules. These charges were later thrown out of an Italian court.

Although it was the European colonisers who were treated most harshly in the film – notably, in a memorably creepy sequence, white South Africans – the bad publicity hit the box office, and the film sank. A reprieve came, much to Jacopetti’s horror, only in the form of a ghastly truncated US video version retitled Africa Blood and Guts.

Jacopetti è sempre rimasto molto legato a Barga, sua città natale, che così definiva: ” Casa mia è dove hanno vissuto i miei genitori, dove sono nato anchì’io. Appartengo alla Toscana, a quegli alberi, a quel mare, ai castagni sui monti e agli armadi pieni di quelle vecchie, carissime cose».

Jacopetti was born in Barga, Tuscany. During the second world war he was involved in counterespionage with the American forces, and as normal political activity resumed ahead of the 1948 election, he worked as a publicist for the Christian Democrats.

However, it was through challenging the conformism of postwar Catholic Italy that he made his name as a journalist in the pages of the liberal weekly news magazine Cronache, which he helped found in 1953. It proved to be the forerunner of L’Espresso, launched two years later. After working on newsreels, which Jacopetti tried to make more colourful than the dry state-sponsored efforts, Jacopetti teamed up with Prosperi, cameraman Antonio Climati and composer Riz Ortolani, a unit which remained constant for all of his feature film output.

In 1971, Jacopetti both satirised American racism in Addio Zio Tom (Goodbye Uncle Tom) and took a brief diversion to script Fangio, the story of the great Argentinian racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio, for Hugh Hudson. Mondo Candido (1975) was another satirical piece, but this time a tribute to Jacopetti’s hero Voltaire, whose most famous work, Candide, seemed to echo Jacopetti’s own strange traverse through life. Again, cinematic parallels were drawn between seemingly disparate continents across random time-scales.

Tired of the increasing commercialisation of film industries and the incessant self-publicising necessary to succeed, Jacopetti returned to journalism before retiring to leave his powerful and bizarre creations in the hands of exploitation merchants, gorehounds, censorship bodies – and the term “mondo film” to the lexicon of cinema lore. He was a high-profile figure during Italy’s economic miracle of the postwar period. His charm and good looks led to a number of scandalous incidents that could have been lifted straight out of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.

Jacopetti will be buried in Rome next to the glamorous British actress Belinda Lee, with whom he had a relationship. She was killed in car crash during the making of La Donna nel Mondo. He is survived by his daughter, Christine.

• Gualtiero Jacopetti, film-maker and journalist, born 4 September 1919; died 17 August 2011 – source

“E’ stato un grande regista, un giornalista libero, e soprattutto un precursore in tutte le sue attività . La provincia di Lucca e Barga, sua città natale, lo ricorderanno con iniziative mirate a farlo conoscere ai più giovani ed a continuare così la tradizione dei documentari sull’attualità .

In modo particolare penso ad un festival sui documentari d’autore intitolato alla sua memoria, che sia il proseguimento ideale del Premio giornalistico Arrigo Benedetti, altro grande giornalista che stabilì con Barga un rapporto speciale”.

Così il senatore Andrea Marcucci (PD) ricorda Gualtiero Jacopetti, l’autore di “Mondo Cane”, morto a Roma in 2011.

“Il regista ha sempre mantenuto rapporti con la sua città di nascita, dalla quale ha ereditato uno spirito sanguigno e libertario- prosegue il parlamentare- ha raccontato l’Italia degli anni sessanta, mettendo in luce tutte le sue contraddizioni.

Come suoi concittadini, prendiamo l’impegno di far circolare le sue opere e di costruire, grazie al suo nome, un polo di attenzione per tutti i giovani che si cimentano con i documentari”.

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