UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2018

160-002 | Italian 170 | CCN: 32628

National Cinema - The Italian Cinema: When Italy Meets America

Margherita Ghetti

4 Units

With the turn of the 20th century, Italian people came in waves to the North-American shores, carrying along their families, goods and language. Cinema lent itself to representing and questioning this encounter. As Italian food and gestures landed onscreen, they became part of a common, sometimes stereotypical, imagery. In this course, we will explore thoroughly the origins and images of the Italian-American encounter beyond its overused definitions. Throughout this chronological exploration, we will start by exploring the cinematic portrait of migration and cultural exchanges across the Atlantic Ocean, which remains a privileged site to understand cultural and geo-political dynamics still informing our historical time. We will go back to one hundred years ago with Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant and move up to more recent Emanuele Crialese’s Nuovomondo (2006).

In the second part of our course, we will study how the phenomenon of “Americanization” historically intersects with questions of cultural influence – as witnessed in fascist and post-WWII filmic production, as in Roberto Rossellini’s Paisan (1946), as well as in the time of the Italian “economic miracle”, starting in the 1950’s, when Americanization was viewed as “contamination” and “imperialism” and gave way to the use of genre, as in the sci-fi dystopic fantasy of Elion Petri’s The Tenth Victim (1965).  What kind of influence has been more strongly expressed -- that of Americans in Italy, or of Italian-Americans in the US? Where does one end and the other begin? How is Hollywood influencing the Italian film industry? In turning to filmmakers who, originally Italian, found themselves “becoming” Americans, as in the mafia serial Sopranos and Mario Puzo's Godfather filmic transposition by F. F. Coppola (1972), we will delve into the study of visual representation, narrative devices, cinematography and style.


Rules & Requirements:  

Mandatory attendance to lectures (one excused absence) and screenings (it’s important to be there and watch the film on a big screen, in the dark, with other people, not multitasking) 

Weekly readings (refer to syllabus, and paper reader) 

Weekly 1-2 page responses: integrate readings and screening and come up with a point of entry, focus on something specific and show you have read, processed and elaborated on the material. 

Active participation in class (raise your hand, ask questions, comment) 

One 7 minutes presentation

BAMPFA screenings 

Final project


Hours & Format: 15 weeks - Lecture and screening

Additional Details: Taught in English, readings and screenings in English and Italian (with English subtitles and translations provided). 

Subject/Course Level: Italian Studies/Film &Media Studies Undergraduate 

Grading/Final exam status: Letter grade. Two midterms (in class) + final project with in class presentation.

This course will cover a variety of 16mm filmmaking techniques, including hand-painted film, cinematography, and digital transfer with an emphasis on the avant-garde. Through readings, hands-on workshops, and individual projects, students will learn about exposure, the photochemical process, various film stocks, and digital editing. This course is intended to provide an historical perspective of film technology before the invention of video, a foundational understanding of cinematography as it is still used in video today, and an introduction to motion picture film as a professional medium of choice for contemporary filmmakers. Students will shoot and edit traditional 16mm film as well as digital transfers of film to video. This is a studio-based film production course that will utilize a range of equipment including: 16mm film cameras, video cameras and software, and audio and lighting instruments. The work created in class will culminate in a final screening/performance of individual and group assignments.