Balance sheets, reports, contracts, correspondence, production notes, story-lines, captions, censor’s approval certificates, review and hire sheets from film studios like Itala Film, Film Artistica Gloria and Società Anonima Stefano Pittaluga, to name only a few, are all included in this collection. This is an exceptional body of resources offering information on the work, management methods and strategies of the most important film studios of early Italian cinema.
In particular, the Ufficio Edizione Films of the Pittaluga Fund, which oversaw the release of national film productions in Italy and abroad, holds numerous interesting dossiers which provide a vast amount of information on films that were distributed in Italy, information that goes well beyond the individual film. It is a font of information that tells of the fortunes of many film genres (silent comedies, comedies, dramas, documentaries), of the speed with which foreign films were presented in Italy, of the problems of early synchronization processes and of the definitive passage from silent to sound films.
Scenarios and scripts
The substantial collection of scenarios and scripts is principally made up of Italian silent and sound films and follows the work of the first authors of Italian cinema like Arrigo Frusta, Ennio Grammatica, Lucio D'Ambra, Mario Voller-Buzzi and Emiliano Bonetti, and of more recent script writers such as Renato Castellani, Fernando Cerchio, Italo Dragosei, Giuseppe De Santis and Marco Ferreri. Studies and notes for new stories, research material, memoirs, scene and costume sketches, cut-out albums and, above all, numerous copies of scripts and stories with corrections bring to life the birth and evolution of a film. The remarkable Guidi fund must not be forgotten; a true cross-section of contemporary Italian cinema, the fund brings together the work of many and diverse authors. It was collected and winnowed by Guidi while he was working at the De Laurentiis entertainment group.
The personal funds of Ernesto Maria Pasquali, Giovanni Pastrone, Arturo Ambrosio, Orson Welles, Francesco Rosi, Elio Petri and many others contribute to an in-depth knowledge of these filmmakers and their work. They include letters, notes, sketches, essays, interviews, proofs, articles, newspaper cuttings, accounts, etc.
This section also includes funds of much smaller dimensions. However, their size in no way restricts their relevance. These archived documents – often a small portion of mixed acquisitions - are ideally experienced in connection with the photographs, magazines, books, posters, publicity leaflets, devices, films and so on that are conserved in various sections of the Museum. In this way, the names Ratti and Gramaglia could lead the visitor to certain collections of photographs that are conserved in the Photo archives, or the few documents of Decoroso Bonifanti could lead to a collection of sketches by the acclaimed set designer.
The Paper archives conserves documents that have been historically grouped into themed collections. The best known of these is undoubtedly the one based on the film Cabiria, with original material from the different versions of the film, sketches, musical scores, publicity booklets and newspaper cut-outs. More recent materials join the originals, including documentation regarding the D'Annunzio - Pastrone court case for the acknowledgement of the film’s authorship; publications and posters can be found as well.
The cinema world is also represented by a collection of censor’s approval certificates for silent and sound films that were distributed in Italy and by stamps and postal cancellation marks dedicated to cinematic themes.
This is where a few of the collections are conserved that bear witness to Maria Adriana Prolo’s wider interest in everything dealing with technological and industrial developments in the phenomenon of vision. In fact, this section contains the oldest documents in the archives regarding performances featuring the mondo niovo, magic lanterns and shadow puppets. It also includes a collection of patents and drawings for cinematographic and photographic devices.
“Cameras, film, photos, set designs, exhibits for a small Museum of Cinema which is, for now, housed in the Mole Antonelliana. How did I come upon such an idea? By collecting news and information on the History of Italian silent cinema ...”
Maria Adriana Prolo herself explains the origins of the Museum, which oddly enough, back in 1942, had its first home in the very location in which it is now hosted.
Through the documentation present in the Maria Adriana Prolo and the National Cinema Museum funds, it is possible to study the evolution of this institution’s cultural policy and organization.
The personal and research notes of the Museum's founder illustrate the different interests that inspired her life as a collector and scholar and trace her profile above and beyond her interest in cinema. From her initial historical research into the Risorgimento and literature to her increasing and predominant interest in cinematography, right up to the foundation of the Museum of Anthropology in Romagnano Sesia, her hometown.
The Museum’s fund has gathered all the documentation relative to the workings of the institution. The structure of the Museum itself, which is organized into sectors and series, mirrors the development and the division of its activities throughout its fifty years of life. These documents permit us to follow in detail the vicissitudes linked to the Museum’s premises; the efforts made by its founder to ensure its survival and its ability to create and support events designed to spread the culture of cinema (shows, exhibitions, film projection and festivals); the choices in mounting exhibitions in its various homes, from Palazzo Chiablese to the Mole Antonelliana; its purchasing policy and a thousand other aspects of the Museum’s workings.
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