ANAC’s history is first of all the story of a politically motivated fight.
The National Association of Cinematographic Authors was founded in 1952 by major figures of Italian Cinematography. During the many years of its activity, the association has fought not only for cinema policies, but also for civil commitment and Italian culture. The presence in its ranks of exceptional people, who were great intellectuals as well as movie directors, allowed it to achieve relevant goals.
Times change, and so does the attitude towards politics, the political scene, the political parties, and the enviroment in which the associations were serving their vital purpose of social intermediary, role that they have now lost.
And so things are different today, but there is a feeling that has stayed the same and that Ugo Gregoretti expressed through this stament:
“There is a DNA that the great authors of that time and the new generations still share: a great ideal narrative experience connects the authors of the past to the young authors of today, who can carry on, if they will still believe it to be of importance and utility, the challenging task of recreating this feeling of community and giving new vigour to the Long Wave.”
1 – WITH A CLENCHED FIST
From the Cineguf to the association of authors asserting freedom of expression
After the war, the cinematographic activities, that during the fascist period had taken form as fascist university cinema clubs (Cineguf), reshaped into new cinema clubs (FICC) all across Italy. The Constitution of the Italian Republic entered into effect on 1 January 1948 and the elections of that year were a political turning point for the country.
The country’s political divide affected all organisational structures, from trade unions to cultural organisations. The Circolo romano del cinema (Rome cinema club), where the majority of the most important directors and screenwriters of the time gathered, was gradually politicized in an attempt to protect the Italian movie industry from the intrusiveness of the American industry that had conquered the cinemas with hundreds of movies. A consistent group of authors, including Vittorio De Sica, Luigi Zampa, Giuseppe De Santis, Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, Cesare Zavattini, joined the comitati di agitazione, clandestine groups fighting for the rights of the working class, that organized a large demonstration in Piazza del Popolo in Rome in February 1949. From the stage Alessandro Blasetti called for unity and action. It is in this atmosphere that the National Association of Cinematographic Authors was founded in 1952: a unique category of association at that time in Europe, as it brought together directors, screenwriters and musicians. Able to represent the fundamental needs of the authors while being detached from trade unions, it included in its articles of association cultural and political purposes related to freedom of expression and defense of copyright.
2 – AGAINST THOSE WHO CENSOR OUR IDEAS
The film-makers’ struggle to ensure cultural freedom
Contrary to common belief, the creation of the Italian Republic did not include substantial changes compared to the fascist regime. Despite Article 21 of the Constitution permitting freedom of the press and of all forms of expressions, a paragraph was added, supported especially by the Catholic church, which prohibited shows and other displays contrary to morality.
A central office for cinematography was established at the Prime Minister’s department gathering the opinions of the judging boards, that had essentially stayed the same as those in 1923, only slightly different in their composition.
In 1949, a law was enacted submitted by the then undersecretary to the entertainment, Giulio Andreotti, that was meant to support and promote the growth of the Italian movie industry and at the same time to slow down the advance of American movies, but also to stop the embarassing excess of Italian neorealism (Andreotti’s official stance is still famous in an article pubblished by the christian democratic magazine “Libertas”). Following the adoption of this legislation, any script had to be approved by a state commission to be able to receive public funding. Moreover, if a movie was considered to defame the Italian Republic, it could be prevented from obtaining an export permit. In short, a sort of preventive censorship was being carried out.
3 – STORMING THE PALACE
Venice 1968, protesting against the Festival
On the 20th August 1968 Soviet tanks enter Prague. On the same day the National Association of Cinematographic Authors announced decision to sabotage the Festival that they renamed “Mostra dei padroni” and demanded that the statute of the Ente Biennale di Venezia be reformed since it still dated back to the fascist period (1938).
Bernardo Bertolucci, Liliana Cavani, Pier Paolo Pasolini decided not to show their movies to demonstrate solidarity to the protest.
Some members of the board, including Henri Langlois, Jonas Mekas, Edgar Reitz, resigned.
On the 25th August 1968 all lights are off on the opening night of the 29th Venice International Film Festival, all shops are closed and a line of policemen tries to ward off a group of protesters formed by students, cinema critics and directors from the National Association of Cinematographic Authors. Among the authors present featured Marco Ferreri, Ugo Gregoretti, Francesco Maselli, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Gillo Pontecorvo, Liliana Cavani, Franco Solinas, Cesare Zavattini.
Slogans called for “Disobedience to the culture of tyrants!” and a “free Festival”. The protesters demanded resignation for Luigi Chiarini, Festival Director since 1963, and self-management for the Festival. The opening night was cancelled and the Festival was inaugurated two days later, on the 27th August, amid protests. In such a tense atmosphere, shopkeepers and hotel owners, who had all interests in having the Festival proceed, started a counter-demonstration. Luigi Chiarini allowed for an assembly of protesters to be carried out in the Sala Grande, but at 2AM the time allowed ended and the Police intervened clearing out the Sala Grande.When the Festival came to its conclusion Luigi Chiarini was finally forced to resign.
4 – THE “COUNTER-FILM FESTIVAL”
The Festival filmmakers wished for
“Le giornate del cinema italiano”
In 1972, the Film Festival was supervised by Gian Luigi Rondi and the new statute had still to be enacted (it was approved on the 26th July 1973). Thus, the National Association of Cinematographic Authors decided to organize a “counter-Film Festival” in Venice with the cooperation of AACI, an association founded by authors who had left ANAC. A “permanent assembly” was held out at cinema Olimpia and cinema Moderno, in Campo Santa Margherita and at the factories of Marghera, in which Marco Ferreri, Bernardo Bertolucci, Giuliano Montaldo, Ugo Pirro, Nanni Loy, Ettore Scola, Furio Scarpelli, Luigi Magni, Nino Russo and many others took part.
On the 1st September 1972, Marco Bellocchio launches the festival “Le giornate del cinema italiano” presenting for the world premiere “Nel nome del padre”. Jean-Luc Godard comes from France to take part in the bustling debates with the public. Marcello Mastroianni, Gian Maria Volontè, Elio Petri, Francesco Rosi later joined as well. They demanded the right to film-making as an act of social participation, with no barriers and no awards.
In 1973, the Film Festival took no place and in its stead “Le giornate del cinema italiano” filled the void left by the Biennale di Venezia. In 1975 the division among authors was reconciled giving birth to the ANAC Unitaria, based on new articles of association and a new statute.
5 – LIKE THE WILD WEST: THE DEREGULATION OF TV
Against the disruption of Italy’s Cinematographic Culture
Talking about the ‘80s means necessarily to tell the tale of a “cinecide”. The so called liberalisation of the airwaves unleashed a savage war during those years that caused a victim: Italian cinema was mutilated.
In 1975 and 1976 Italian movies alone sold 330 milions of tickets a year. At the end of the ‘80s the percentage of people accessing cinemas had fallen significantly: the Italian share had dropped to 30 milions of tickets sold on a total of about 100 milions. This collapse was due to the Constitutional Court’s ruling n.202 that during the summer of 1976 authorized private TV stations to air freely, although only locally at first. However, the push towards deregulation later became too compelling: national networks belonging to large industrial groups started appearing in rapid succession, and the competition to conquer the audience and with it advertising power was raging. Collectively TV stations went as far as to air a total of over 2000 movies per day. At the same time, television sets were built larger in size and achieved better image quality.
All this caused a proper apocalypse in the film industry: cinemas closed down in great numbers and from over 4000 movie theaters they came down to about 700 in just a few years. From that moment forward, the production of Italian movies became dependant on the financial contribution from TV stations. These structural issues were accompanied by an artistic crisis that lowered the quality of cinematographic works of national production. ANAC tried tirelessly to oppose these individual interests that were acting unregulated, but the political framework and the huge economic powers involved made things more complicated.
6 – CREATIVITY AGAINST OPPRESSION
The founding of FERA
Authors in Europe united for a policy on audiovisual culture
The early 1980s were crucial for ANAC at an international level as well. Under the administration of Francesco Maselli, ANAC together with a select group of European associations of authors promoted the foundation Fédération Européenne des Réalisateurs de l’Audiovisuel (FERA) headquartered in Bruxelles.
The first gatherings date back to 1976 (Italy, France, Germany, Hungary), but FERA’s first official meeting was held in St. Etienne in January 1980, and associations from other countries also joined: Great Britain, Belgium, Greece and Spain. Later in the same year, the association was approved officially in Venice. Determining factor motivating ANAC’s battles were still the importance given to the defence and promotion of authors’ Moral and Material Rights and the claim to the right to freedom of expression. These goals needed to be pursued at a European level and in order to do this FERA’s foundation was fundamental.
During several negotiating rounds of the World Trade Organisation, disagreement with the United States was growing stronger. Using the influencing power from large lobbies and government circles, the United States tried in every way to impose the liberalisation of all goods including among these the value of Culture. Europe resisted by devising a legal workaround: “cultural exception” is a policy that has allowed European countries so far to support with public funding their own culture and audiovisual industries. Major national and international initiatives of the time include the foundation of the Italian Coalition for Cultural Diversity in 2009, promoted by ANAC in collaboration with SIAE (Società Italiana Autori Editori), the Accademia di Santa Cecilia and the Italian Institute of Philosophical Studies.
7 – CULTURE IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT AND ONE OF OUR BIGGEST RESOURCES
Authors united in a strategic choice for a changing society
The political and cultural scene changes drastically at the start of the new millenium. A strong drive towards neo-liberalism dictates the governments agendas, influencing the general perception of the common good and imposing strict social standards in order to respect rigid economic criteria.
It is in this enviroment that ANAC works to draw attention to the principles that have characterized the association’s historic commitment: the crucial and absolute value of Culture as a choice of civilization, considering it to be the essence of society. This is an essential position in favour of Italy’s development within the more general framework of European and world politics. The purpose is to restore culture’s crucial role – and therefore encourage knowledge, creativity, innovation, preservetion of the most vital traditions – in the development of thought and in the dialectic process of ideas by rejecting exclusive compliance to the law of markets wich would result in a perverse homogenisation and levelling down of the cultural and political offer.
ANAC is in fact committed to promoting a number of wide-ranging initiatives through publications, conferences and events to equally promote a different view of the industry – as in for example the white paper “Lo Stato delle Cose” - and to preserve important Italian film realities, such as Cinecittà that, by being privatised, risks becoming object of property speculation. At the same time ANAC is trying to join all the fronts of Italian culture. Associations representing filmmakers, actors, writers, playwrights, musicians, philosophers, historians, architects, painters, scholars, take part to the meetings and conferences taking place at the Teatro Valle, at the Bioparco and in Piazza Navona along with renowned managers of prestigious institutions.
8 – A VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Our goal is to restore the value of Italian Cinema
ANAC will always strive to ensure that film making as an independent art form keep a significant role in the Italian Cinematographic system by making a more equal distribution of public funds, having as reference countries like France, where there is a better balance between the industrial part and the creative part of the Film industry. At the same time, by reorganising the association’s Historic Archive, that obtained in 2016 a declaration that is of particular historical importance by the Superintendence of the Archives of Lazio, it aims to raise awareness upon the unique history of Italian cinema. While looking forward to the future, ANAC offers once more the meaningful experiences made in the past: Le “Giornate degli Autori”, independent section of the Venice Film Festival, clearly inspired by “Le Giornate del Cinema” of 1972-73, with the goal of giving better exposure to independent and quality cinema; the Scuola Leo Benvenuti, an institution that follows in the steps of the screenwriting workshops taught with passion by the great screenwriter Leo Benvenuti at ANAC’s former headquarters in via Principessa Clotilde 1a and that actively formed important screenwriters and directors of today; the Premio Lizzani, a secondary prize at the Venice Film Festival that gives value to the activity of cinemas and workers operating in increasingly difficult conditions; the Cinema nelle Biblioteche, a movement that promotes cultural initiatives in such an impoverished atmosphere and creates at the same time a complementary space to encourage circulation of independent works; Anackino, a platform from ANAC taking advantage of new means of communication to fulfill a mission of mainly cultural and educational value. In the modern and complex reality of virtual platforms and algorithms, ANAC promotes initiatives that are still oriented towards the same fundamental objectives. A common thread connects the idealistic effort of the great authors of the past to those of today: to preserve or to reacreate spaces that allow the fullest realisation of freedom of expression.