The Paper Mirror: The Roles of the Cameraman and Projectionist as Observed by the Italian Press (1907-1915)

< Program < PANEL NO. 3: Cameras, Projectors, and Trick Photography

With few exceptions, significant but unfortunately not lasting, in Italy the discourses on the cinema begin to find stable and important spaces in the newspapers and more generally in the press, only from 1928 onwards. However, from 1907 this delay generates an impressive proliferation of trade journals, interested in reflecting on numerous themes: from the birth of film criticism, to the emerging definition of film genres, to the relationship of cinema with literature and theater, to debate on legal or pedagogical issues, etc. These magazines are often of poor literary quality but very combative. Their target is constituted by an audience of professionals (or aspiring ones). This is why these journals put the problem of defining and training professional roles in the film industry at their center. An intense debate that, given the strong expansion of the national cinema, soon permeates both the editorials and the columns of the correspondents, the advertisements and the announcements, but also (indeed above all) the frequent short stories set in the world of cinema. The short stories themselves seem to constitute a space open to the critical and problematic aspects linked to the affirmation of the new roles and new professions in the film industry.

By deliberately adopting a perspective capable of giving voice to all the various “souls” of the Italian film magazines of the time (and without forgetting that the very category of the cinematographic journalist was a professional figure of the sector then in the process of being defined) the present intervention intends to explore how Italian film magazines of the period 1907-1915 dealt with the phenomenon, in part hoped for and in part feared, of the broadening definition (and re-definition) of roles in the industry, with specific attention to the emerging roles of cameraman and projectionist.

Luca Mazzei (University of Rome Tor Vergata) & Silvio Alovisio (University of Turin)

Luca Mazzei is Assistant Professor at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata,” Italy. His research focuses on the relations between film and documentary materials in the history of Italian cinema. He is a member of the editorial board of Immagine, L’avventura, and is the author of Geometrie dello sguardo, Contributi allo studio dei formati nel cinema italiano (2006, with Federico Vitella), Napoleoncina di Lucio d’Ambra, La sceneggiatura (Udine, Cerc, 2015) and co-editor, with Francesco Casetti and Silvio Alovisio, of Early Film Theories in Italy 1896-1922 (AUP, 2017).

Silvio Alovisio is Associate Professor at the University of Turin. His main research interests are Italian silent cinema, early film theories and contemporary cinema. He is a member of the editorial board of the Immagine, L’avventura and La Valle dell’Eden, and collaborates with the National Cinema Museum of Turin. Among his publications: Wong Kar-wai (2010), L’occhio sensibile (2013), Giovanni Pastrone (2015), La scuola dove si vede (2016). He co-edited with Francesco Casetti and Luca Mazzei, Early Film Theories in Italy 1896-1922 (AUP, 2017).