When I signed up for Indiana University’s Fifth Annual Symposium: New Trends in Modern and Contemporary Italian Cinema, the only thing I knew about it was that Carlo Verdone would be there as a visiting director. (Carlo Verdone in Bloomington, Indiana? SIgn me up!) I’d seen all of his films and I’d even written a post in the early days of this blog called, “Carlo Verdone Would Think I’m Hilarious”.
To be honest, I had no idea what else to expect, and frankly, I didn’t much care. But when I finally sat down and looked at the program, I realized that I was looking forward to more than just Verdone. College professors from all over the country were to present papers on everything from La Grande Bellezza and “why Americans didn’t like it” (We didn’t?) to “Checco Zalone’s Unguarded Patrimony”. Every evening Verdone would present one of his movies and talk about them. I had so many questions: Who else would be there? A lot of people? More important, what to wear?
I knew that a writer I’d become very fond of, Emmy award-winning editor and Italian cinema critic Jeannine Guilyard (Check her out on FRA NOI) was to talk, and I was really looking forward to meeting her. FYI she is great, and I’d encourage everyone to read her reviews on Fra Noi, read her personal blog, and to follow her on Twitter.
The symposium turned out to be an amazing experience to hear what academia has to say about contemporary Italian cinema and to rub shoulders with one of Italy’s most important directors, Carlo Verdone. Clearly, college professors look at the Italian film industry with a different eye than do, giving me a lot of new things to think of but also a lot to argue with. I was the new and unknown presence at this thing, and I didn’t want to jump in swinging, but I did take the chance to grab the very lovely and interesting speaker Carlo Annelli and make him listen to my thoughts about Checco. Coudn’t help myself; sorry about that.
And poor Carlo; if he thought we was going to get out of there without posing for a picture with me he was sadly mistaken. I’ll be eagerly anticipating next year’s symposium, and for those of you that may be interested in joining me, it’s worth noting that many of the speakers were Italian and spoke in Italian with no translator.(Talk about giving my Italian a workout!) There was a translator for Carlo Verdone, however.