“Ottimismo Democratico" (Democratic Optimism) is a video-itinerary of short films by Flavia Mastrella and Antonio Rezza created and produced between 1990 and 1999. A constant feature is the presence of Antonio Rezza 's tragic-catastrophic figure and (hypnotic) voice. The events tell of a culture in decadence. The stories, the voice and the settings are all dense with atmosphere, the body seen to be trapped in an alienating space where, in the fragments pieced together, the protagonism of a pedantic humanity stands out in all its meanness yet is extremely comical.
Flavia Mastrella and Antonio Rezza have made an infinite number of short films, three full-length films, nine theatre performances, television programmes and various artistic and literary works. Their productions, all in black and white, have never been issued as home videos but have won numerous prizes in the main festivals of independent cinema and are now considered cult movies.
Ten years of original, visionary and surreal productions immortalised by the photographer Martina Villiger in the book edited by the authors themselves.
Special contents: photo gallery, graphic gallery and the unpublished documentary “Il passato è il mio bastone” (The Past is My Stick, Venice Days 2008) with amusing images filmed and unedited and with critical interventions by Cristina Piccino, Steve Della Casa, Giovanni Spagnoletti, Fabio Ferzetti, Marco Dotti, Paolo D'Agostini, Morando Morandini, enrico ghezzi and Roberto Silvestri.
This is the first book devoted to Paolo Gioli's cinema. It contains contributions by many experts in the field including David Bordwell, Dominique Païni, Jean-Michel Bouhours, Elena Volpato. The original texts of the authors' articles are provided along with Italian and English translations. The comprehensive collection of images from Gioli’s paintings, photographs and films establishes a vital nexus between the different media (worked in).
The book contains the DVD "6 Films by Paolo Gioli" with unpublished works of the italian artist.
Paolo Gioli was born in 1942 in Sarzano (Rovigo). In 1960 he attended the Open School of the Nude at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice where he lived and worked for a number of years. In 1967 he set off for New York, where he lived and worked for a year; there, he was granted a scholarship from the John Cabot Fund. In New York he discovered the New American Cinema, met gallerists Leo Castelli and Martha Jackson and became acquainted with the New York School of painting. Forced to interrupt his stay in America and to return to Italy, Gioli moved to Rome in 1970. In Rome, he got in touch with the Cooperativa Cinema Indipendente, which revolved around the Filmstudio 70, an important point of reference for all Italian experimental filmmakers. He produced his first films in Rovigo and Rome. During his stay in Rome he became deeply interested in photography. In 1976, he moved to Milan where, in addition to filmmaking, he devoted his time to photography.
A "cult" film of the 70s about the Black Panther movement, it was made in the United States following the work of the Black Panther Party from within.
The title was inspired by the homonymous song by Elaine Brown who participated in the film. Antonello Branca constructs a narrative framework skillfully bringing together the canons of fiction cinema and documentary cinema.
Only one professional actor, Norman Jacobs, who moves between pop-symbolic visions of imperialism to stars and stripes set against reality: area searches, student demonstrations, national guard drills, direct testimonies. An America where the black, and the "panthers" in particular, are assassinated in cold blood according to a precise repressive design.
In the book: original unpublished photographs and comments by Nobuko Miyamoto, Antonello Branca, Italo Moscati and Elaine Brown.
The Dvd also contains What's Happening?, an irreverent portrait of America of the 60s seen through the experiences of artists of the Beat Generation and Pop Art. The America of the Vietnam war, ploughed by contradictions and explosive social tensions but potentially saturated with expectations for the future. With: Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Gregory Corso, Fred Mogubgub, Marie Benois and Leon Kraushar.
Suppietij (12', 1991)
Larva (1', 1993)
De civitate rei (29',1994)
Il piantone (15', 1994)
Fiorenzo (5', 1995)
Zero a zero (3', 1995)
Schizzopatia (10', 1995)
L'handicappato (4', 1997)
Hai mangiato? (3', 1997)
Porte (2', 1997)
Virus (2', 1997)
Il Mosè di Michelangelo (2', 1999)
Il passato è il mio bastone (45', 2008)
Tracce di tracce (7', 1969)
Figure instabili nella vegetazione (7', 1973)
Finestra davanti a un albero
Farfallio (8', 1993)
Volto sorpreso al buio (9', 1995)
Anonimatografo (27', 1972)
Giacomo Daniele Fragapane:
Paolo Gioli (18', 2009)
Seize the Time (90', 1970)
What's happening? (50', 1967)
"Their experience is internationally unique, they are two poets of cinema, theatre and writing. They are two visionaries."
"An artistic group without examples; the avantgarde of the Twenties, surrealism, there's so much inside. It's a conceptual project and I like that."
"They move in an abstract space. In a cinema like ours, obsessed about likelihood, it completely throws us off."
"When you laugh in their films, it's never a laugh of satisfaction or letting-off steam. What they do is totally absurd."
Steve Della Casa
"Aesthetics and socio-political criticism... There are those who cultivate the idea, those who cultivate the vision, and those who cultivate the idea and the vision together."
"They often define themselves as independent, independent situations, films, cineastes, but they are only very relatively. This is a case of literal independence, absolute."
"An 'automatic writing' that proceeds from an idea to an idea without any apparent narrative logic. At times I myself don't understand, but no matter."
"The most fascinating thing is the effort, to be different even from each other as well from the others, or else the will or the fear of sinking into a twosome thing."
"Spatial forces that clash... rebellion of the subconscious... Pataphysics with an apostrophe before the P... Mastrella and Rezza occlude all the critic's pores. Except for one pore that remains open. Which is, in fact, the critical pore."
"The out of sync, black and white images are absurdly comical. It’s a world apart, a cruel and schizophrenic world that bears no resemblance to theatre, for which the two actors are best known. The only name that springs to mind? Carmelo Bene." Alberto Pezzotta, Il Corriere della sera
"Thanks to the fortunate pairing off with Flavia Mastrella, Rezza seems one of her fantastic gimmicky polymorphous creations. A body made up of variable geometries, never obvious. A fluid that runs on the stage and also on the set (perfect in its apparent devastation) of these earliest “shorts”, which have become truly “cult”. They are creations whose geometries, both the filled and empty spaces, are reflected in Rezza’s interpretation, giving rise to bitter, if not desperate, but certainly comical results."
Roberto Scafuri, Il giornale
"The Rezza-Mastrella couple is undoubtedly one of the most anarchical and elusive realities of contemporary art. So anarchical and elusive (read independent) that, notwithstanding the adoring attitude of both public and critics, that are still strongly labeled as a cult phenomenon, but are far from the large mainstream numbers. Perhaps as a result of a slight distraction or a conscious denial of the big media or of the hardly compromising and rather bohemien attitude of the two. The future could, however, compensate us for this absence. Kiwido is releasing some of the black and white shorts that have contributed to making the couple cult material and which have never been available in home video before."
Sandro Podda, Liberazione
"Some were perhaps inclined to think that the Rezza-Mastrella phenomenon was destined, over the years, to quiet down or to come to its senses; instead we find that it has actually developed such an acute sense of reality taking it to realms of pure folly, reaching such madly poignant levels which end up tearing so-called reality to shreds. The spectator can find in this tormented and screeching figure that drives him to tearful frenetic laughter, his own hoped-for double bent on protesting against a society on the verge of collapse and prey to the authoritarian tendencies that this leads to."
Franco Quadri, La repubblica
"Indisputably one of the most important contemporary Italian photographers, he is the author of different films that dialogue closely with his photographic and pictorial works, with his litographies and incisions. Gioli is precious not only for his artistic production, but also as a critical testimony of what the era of analogue images has been."
Giacomo Daniele Fragapane
"A cinema whose porous fragility of images competes with the sudden appearance of figures. Space struggles against time in Gioli’s work. An infinite struggle, that transposes the narrative anecdotes of the novelistic cinema into a novel constructed of images."
"Gioli’s erect camera literally takes the measure of its subject, like a meter-stick. An instantaneous sampling of space becomes three seconds of cinema, rendered as a pulsating vertical scan. The downward drift produced by Gioli’s stenopeic camera tends to erase the frameline."
"An imprint of the body that gathers time. An imprint that generates sequences. It is cinematic duration captured in a singular flutter of the eyelids."
"When Gioli dedicates a film, he comments on a work that arrests his attention: a commentary without words, a visual commentary. These commentaries, whether they concern Muybridge, Eakins, Duchamp, Rothko, or Stern, converge towards what one might call, to paraphrase Edouard Glissant, a «Whole-world» cinema of the thaumaturge Paolo Gioli. This paranoiac posture show us, that in Gioli’s world, there is a strange personal alchemy between Dalí and Duchamp."
"Paraphrasing the adage of Marshall McLuhan that the medium is the message, we might say that in Gioli the medium is the body and, vice versa, even the body is the medium. A “glorious” body not in the Christian sense of a merit that it will acquire after the resurrection of the flesh, but in the sense of a glorified body, regenerated and purified by and in light, reduced to a pure icon beyond good and evil, sin and redemption."
Bruno Di Marino
"An indispensible volume also and above all of our times: in a cinematographic Italy that with increasing ease seems to fall prey to a botchy aesthetic, the frontal clash with the work of a master which cannot be anything less than explosive. The real essence of Gioli’s cinema, perfectly enclosed within this accurate anthology is represented by his innate and incorruptible thrust to animate the inanimate. The challenge is giving palpability, visibility, tangibility to those elements that inevitably appear out of focus, if not invisible to our eyes."
Raffaele Meale, CineClandestino
"The method with which “Un cinema dell’impronta” (Imprint Cinema) was constructed is based on the necessity to create an essentially “visual” volume in which the iconographic part is not a simple illustration but a central component of the voyage around the artist. Because here more than elsewhere exploring the work of someone like Gioli means not being able to separate the reflection of the analysis from his imaginative universe of lights, «butterfly-like», dreams, brilliant ideas, bizarre creatures, the innocence of a sex open to the world. Watching his films recalls Bunuel in Un Chien Andalou, the lunar eye of Odilon Redon, the surrealist eye of Bataille, l’Anemic Cinéma by Duchamp. The images quickly take us into a universe pulsating with desire, as if we were leafing through a book of fables, closing our eyes, being catapulted into some magnificent adventure. And this apparatus allows us to see those relations observed in the texts, the idea of a cinema that ranges beyond itself, and extends itself into every possible location of the imagination and way of seeing."
Cristrina Piccino, il manifesto
"Untamed explorer of the “formidable” capacity that photosensitive material has in tampering with and imagining, almost always dramatically, everything it touches”, Gioli keeps alive the possibility of non-entertaining, or rather of “entertaining” the spectator inside a dialectic in which putting oneself to the test and re-acting are a form of resistance to the “finished and delivered” quality of mainstream products. Uplifting, fuelling and raising problems in mental exercises without solution, in which images, endowed with a wild energy, burn with a non-measurable dose of intensity, and rapidly move towards their reanimation or their repeated decomposition."
Salvatore Insana, Taxi Drivers
"A precious document suggested by Federico Carra in a curated critical and restored edition. An excellent instrument of analysis of racism in modern society. Exactly what we need."
Giuliano Santoro, Carta
"Kiwido is doing really beautiful things. Antonello Branca was a forerunner. A really beautiful Dvd accompanied by a
precious book, a delightful edition!"
Hollywood Party - Rai Radio 3
"Really excellent publishing ventures from Kiwido: after the films by Antonio Rezza and Flavia Mastrella, Roberto Nanni and Paolo Gioli, they recently published Seize the time by Antonello Branca: a charming movie even in the title credits, with the wonderful song by Elaine Brown giving the name to the film, reflecting immediately the exciting climate of this epoch not yet sufficiently understood."
Luca Biscontini, Taxi Drivers
"One of the most interesting and beautiful films about the Black Panther Party. Shot with absolute freedom, catching the mood of that period.. the film has really extraordinary scenes with great historical and cinematographic values."
Dario Zonta, l'Unità
"The document is remarkable, because it describes the Black Panther historical period shown from the inside and because it shows, both in its form and substance, the way of doing political and cinematographic activism in that period. And it's different from seeing Sean Penn acting with polished eyes."
Matteo Bordone, Rolling Stone
"A cultural project which has rediscovered a film forgotten in most of the "histories" of Italian movies and above all recalling a filmaker which has been highly underrated."
Alessio Galbiati, Rapporto Confidenziale
"The United States is still engaged in wars of aggression.
Poverty overwhelms the country, millions living at the edge of life...
A new generation of freedom fighters must rise up from this pyre. May the resurrection of this film serve as inspiration."
Elaine Brown (Black Panther Party)
"It was one hard way to make a movie about revolution, but maybe it was more about changing ourselves."
"A film that travels to us from far, thanks to a journalist-director in search of stimuli and knowledge, open to all, in particular to collecting stories about history. Scorching, remote and staggering.
Luther Kingʼs dream that often comes back to transform itself into a nightmare. And not only in America."