Competition: US & Canada
Giorgio Bertellini is Professor in Film and Media at the University of Michigan. Working in the U.S. as an Italian-born historian of European and American cinema, he has found himself always translating, which he sees as not just ferrying filmmakers’ and scholars’ works across linguistic divides but also accounting for misrecognized and repurposed cultural forms. The transatlantic traffic of people, films, and ideas about beauty, race, and governance provided the case studies of his first two books— Italy in Early American Cinema: Race, Landscape, and the Picturesque (2010) and The Divo and The Duce: Promoting Film Stardom and Political Leadership in 1920s America (2019), winners of multiple book awards in different disciplines.
As a Guggenheim Fellow, he will study how Italian neorealist filmmakers creatively reworked the social aesthetics of Depression-era American photojournalism. Neorealism’s canonization obscured the memory of its foreign sources and their original subjects and limited its spectators’ aesthetic and political appreciation of how Italian poverty came to be represented. Similarly, Cold War American critics also failed to acknowledge that the Roosevelt-era progressive imagery had profoundly influenced Italy’s postwar leftist cinema. The project wishes to speak to the persistent amnesia surrounding the politics and forms of representing poverty.