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“Italian Studio Production: The Early Years”
Although less than a century old, the films made in cinema’s first decades are largely a mystery. Only recent preservation efforts, for example, have revealed the breadth of the cinematic work of Italy before 1920. This National Gallery of Art series provides an exceptional overview, with five diverse programs of short comedies, dramas, and documentaries: the work of Turin’s Itala Film Company, featuring comedies and films of mythology, melodrama, and adventure (May 9 at 2:30 p.m.); the oeuvre of Turin’s Ambrosio Film, including documentaries, comedies, and historical dramas (May 10 at 4 p.m.); the comedies, documentaries, operas, and trick films of Rome’s Cines Company (May 17 at 4 p.m.); films from Naples (May 23 at 2 p.m.); and “fantastic cinema” (May 23 at 3:30 p.m.). The retrospective ends with a screening of the restored version of Giovanni Pastrone’s three-hour 1914 epic, Cabiria (pictured, May 23 at 3:30 p.m.). At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)