Monday February 3, 7pm
From the Italian Underground
Films by Massimo Bacigalupo, Piero Bargellini, and Alfredo Leonardi
admission $6

Still from “V (for Versus)” (M. Bacigalupo, 1968) © Massimo Bacigalupo

Microscope is pleased to present a very rare night of 16mm films by three leading figures of the 1960s Italian underground cinema movement Massimo Bacigalupo, Piero Bargellini, and Alfredo Leonardi. All are connected with the influential, yet brief, Cooperative Cinema Indipendente (Independent Cinema Cooperative) (1967-1969), a project based on the model of New York’s Filmmakers’ Cooperative – with Bacigalupo and Leonardi among the founding members – that inspired several intense years of production of Italian avant-garde films.

The program includes several seminal works of the period including Bacigalupo’s “200 feet for March 31st” and “V (for Versus)”, Bargellini’s “Modulation Transfer” and Leonardi’s “If the Unconscious Revolts”. Despite increasing attention in recent years, the works by the men and women of the historical Italian independent cinema are still in need of wider circulation, especially in the US where they remain mostly unseen.

MASSIMO BACIGALUPO was born in 1947 in Rapallo, Italy. He is an experimental filmmaker, scholar, and translator of poetry, an essayist and literary critic. He was a founding member of the Cooperative Cinema Indipendente in Rome. He currently lives and works in Genova, Italy.

PIERO BARGELLINI was born in Arezzo in 1940. He joined the Cooperative Cinema Indipendente in 1968. During the early 1970s he worked occasionally for Italian Television RAI and continued making underground films. In 1975, he left Italy for Turkey with his wife and daughter reportedly because of legal troubles. He eventually returned and continued his work with films. He died in 1982 at the age of 42.

ALFREDO LEONARDI was born in Voghera, Italy in 1938. He is a founder of the Cooperative Cinema Indipendente and is best known for his short underground films made in the 1960s and early 1970s. He spent time in New York in the 60s and there his only feature length film “Amore, Amore” was screened at MoMA in 1966. Leonardi is also the author of “Occhio mio dio. Il New American Cinema (Eye, My God: The New American Cinema” (1971). He also worked for many years in Italian television.


Se L’Inconscio Si Ribella (If the Unconscious Revolts)
Alfredo Leonardi, 16mm, black and white, 19 min, 1967
In this film, as in all my previous ones, there is a direct connection between inner urges and cinematic rendering. I tried to visualize my present aspiration to recover, through the various ways taught by one’s experience, the easiness, directness and ripeness proper to children’s relationships and affective life. This film is maybe a track of this path backwards. –A. L.

“200 Feet For March 31st”
Massimo Bacigalupo, 16mm, black and white, 10 min, 1968
Most of this film was shot within one day, 31 March 1968, and edited in the camera. It is divided in six episodes following an ancient Indian text, Katha Upanishad, in which a young man, Nakiketa, converses with Death.
“The aspect of the word,/ as somebody said,/ sound/ the word is sound much more than anything else/ and this , you see how true this is/ of the visual sound also, the optical impact of the text, seen at different speeds, the different color of the paper, the different type in conjunction with what comes to mind, at (as it is) random/…” — Andreas Weiland

V. (For Versus)
Massimo Bacigalupo, 16mm, black and white, 12 min, 1968
Should be as clearly as is possible a filmic expression of a series of impossibilities proceeding from the fundamentally unknown relationship between our action and the world pre-existing to it. The tale moves, on varying levels, around the contemplation of this ontological crisis, from tension to indifference and further, death, the medium (film) withering, it is in darkness that the animal moves… the setting: the Mount of Olives. The film consists of four unedited rolls of 100-feet 16mm reels, one of which was previously exposed in an 8mm camera.

Trasferimento di modulazione (Modulation Transfer)
Piero Bargellini, 16mm (original) transfer to video, 1969, 8 minutes
Going even further, in his film Trasferimento di modulazione [Modulation Transfer] (1969), in which the very reproducible nature of film is called into question. Bargellini did in fact alter the development process of the negative, arresting it at several points and for various movie lengths of time, and even projected a small point of light on some parts of it. He then made a unique positive print. A positive that with each projection inevitably deteriorates, bringing about the using up and death of the film itself, and whose other prints, will never be the same as the original. A radical procedure—the point of no return—that works on the primary substance of the cinema: the photosensitive material from which images are made, freeing themselves, even in this case, from the rules of a procedure—that of developing and printing—that is extremely standardized. — Annamaria Licciardello


Still from “Trasferimento di Modulazione” (P. Bargellini, 1969)
© Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Roma

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