Celebrations in London to pay tribute to the Italian film director Mario Monicelli were opened by HE Ambassador Pasquale Terracciano at the Italian Cultural Institute on 23rd June 2015.
This is his speech on that occasion:
“Welcome to the Italian Cultural Institute. Tonight we pay homage to the famed director and screenwriter Mario Monicelli, and commemorate both the 100th anniversary of his birth as well as the 100th anniversary of Italy’s entry into WW1 which is addressed in this evening’s documentary “The Paths of Glory. A voyage with Mario Monicelli to the sites of the Great War”.
Mario Monicelli was one of the Italian masters of the flourishing Italian cultural period in the Post-war era, and along with Dino Risi and Luigi Comencini, represented the Commedia all’Italiana film genre, which opened a new chapter in Italian cinematic culture. During his career he received a Leone d’Oro at the Venice Film Festival for La Grande Guerra (The Great War) in 1959 and six Academy Award nominations, which helped him reach the height of global cinematography. His was a lifetime of cinema and art which culminated with the 1991 Golden Lion for Career at the Venice Film Festival.
Monicelli made some of the most famous films in the history of Italian cinema and worked with many of the most important actors of the XX Century: Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Alberto Sordi, Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret, just to name a few. Cinema has been an integral part of our culture in Post-war Italy, and Monicelli, through decades of hard work, passion and sheer talent, greatly contributed to enabling Italian cinema to reach its lofty heights in the 1950’s and 60’s.
As mentioned, this year we mark the Centenary of Italy’s entry in WWI. Italy places great importance on commemorating the Great War, as was highlighted last month, when the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, remembered the fallen soldiers, both Italian and British, during a wreath laying ceremony at Westminster Abbey during his official visit to London.
Italy’s role in World War I is often overlooked by popular culture, by some historians and in the portrayal of this conflict by the media. It was however a conflict with profound consequences for Italy.
Of course, in admiring Monicelli’s films we find a strong connection with the theme of War. His 1959 “The Great War” – starring actors of the calibre of Vittorio Gassman and Alberto Sordi – is a masterpiece of Italian cinema and culture, having won the Leone d’Oro in Venice and receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film. The screening of this film, is part of the three-evening homage to Maestro Monicelli and will take place tomorrow night, alongside another Academy award nominee by Monicelli, I Compagni “The Organizer”, at the restored Regent Street Cinema. The Great war will be screened again on Sunday at the Genesis cinema in Mile End.
Tonight we begin the commemorations with the documentary “I Sentieri della Gloria”, “The Path of Glory”, as part of the event organised by the Italian Cultural Institute in collaboration with CinemaItaliaUK and Twelfth Night Arts. I warmly welcome Vice-director of the Cineteca del Friuli, Lorenzo Codelli, and Mark Le Fanu who teaches History and Aesthetics of documentary at UCL, who will be part of a panel discussion following the screening.
Without further ado, I invite you to watch “The Path of Glory”, after which the panellists, whom I thank for being with us tonight, will provide an invaluable insight into the work and art of Mario Monicelli”.