THE DREAM FACTORY TURNS 80 YEARS OLD
Italy’s film studio Cinecittà turned 80. Established in 1937, this dream factory was projected as the largest film city and over time became one of the most important cinema studios in the world, second only to Hollywood.
Cinecittà was born during Italy’s fascist era. In fact, Benito Mussolini himself and the director of the Istituto Luce (“Light Institute”, acronym for “L’ Unione Cinematografica Educativa”, i.e. “The Educational Film Union”) Giacomo Paolucci di Calboli, cut the ribbon together at the opening ceremony. In 1931, the regime, which strongly supported the importance of cinema as a propaganda tool, passed a law to stimulate national productions and penalizing foreign films. In 1934, Luigi Freddi was commissioned to set up a “Directorate-general for Cinematography” for ideological control, but also to promote cinema as an art. After an enlightening trip to the United States, Freddi decided to bear down and support national cinema, injecting capital into production. He began to revitalize the first company and structure, called “Cinecittà”, in 1935, but the buildings burned to the ground shortly after their inauguration, most likely an act of vandalism. It was then that he decided to create a more modern “cinema citadel” on Via Tuscolana (right in front of the newly-born Experimental Center of Cinematography), which opened its gates on April 28, 1937.
Three years later, Cinecittà became an entirely public entity, forging talented and unique artists, actors and professionals in the field of cinema. After the early years under the Fascist regime, the end of World War II delayed the revival. But then the Marshall Plan funds that came to Italy helped spark the rebirth. Colossal American films helped consecrate the resurgence, but there were also masterpieces such as “Quo Vadis”,
From Cleopatra’s splendors to the film Vacanze Romane (Roman Holiday), through Sergio Leone’s westerns to major international productions such as Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, Cinecittà has shown constant movement and evolution
“Ben Hur”, “Cleopatra”, “La Dolce Vita” and “Rome”, that ushered in the golden age of Roman film production. The imposing building complex is still located on 400,000 square meters, about 9 km from the center of the capital. Composed of 22 different sized theaters (the smallest 15x30 square meters and largest 40x80), it also has a 7,000 square meter outdoor pool and is surrounded by verdant parks, often used for filming scenes (as in Fellini’s “Casanova”).
The studios’ anniversary also coincides with the 6th year of “Cinecittà si Mostra”, an event that opens the doors for visitors to showcase the realm where international cinema icons have worked, making available all of the historical and architectural heritage of the famous Dream Factory. This recurring event, “Cinecittà si Mostra”, has offered visitors cultural insights, special activities and entertainment since its inception in 2011. Starting in April, the public will not only have the opportunity to visit the great sets and historic buildings, they will have access to the exhibitions - “Why Cinecittà”, “Filming at Cinecittà” and “Backstage”, a Cinecittà educational walk. Visitors will be able to take part in special tours dedicated to the art of cinema: through stories, anecdotes and items of interest, visitors will discover how craftsmen and set designers work, scenery is created, see equipment, discover the tricks of fiction and dive into the cool atmosphere of the Cinegarden to learn the secrets of a floral settings for cinema. The special tours program is enriched with educational
activities designed for kids and families, to experience Cinecittà as true protagonists.
From Ben-hur’s chariot race to Cleopatra’s splendors, Fellini’s Dolce Vita and Vacanze Romane (Roman Holiday), Sergio Leone’s westerns to recent major international productions such as Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, Ben Stiller’s Zoolander 2, Baltasar Kormakur’s Everest and The Young Messiah by Cyrus Nowrasteh, Cinecittà has shown constant progress and evolution, hosting creative fashion, music and art events through parades, photo shoots, music videos and art installations. From its inauguration until today, more than 3,000 films have been shot in Cinecittà, 90 of which have been nominated for Oscars, and 47 of which brought home the award. Those numbers sing the praises of a brilliant production history, verifying that Italian excellence has been a beacon around the world for cinema professionals and will continue to be so in the years to come.