Mamoun gave an introduction to ‘Rome Open City’ at BFI Southbank in February. We’re presenting this introduction in a new format – one that we feel is more informative and entertaining.
This introduction was part of the NFTS/BFI Passport to Cinema series, and we would like to thank both Dominic Power, Head of Screen Arts and the NFTS, and David Somerset and the staff of BFI Southbank for their support on this and other events.
Roberto Rossellini’s Rome Open City is the first great epic of Italian Neorealism. Seventy years on, the movement still survives. At any one time a neorealist film is being made somewhere in the world. These films are forever ‘neo’ or new because they are fresh and unexpected, focusing on people not considered worthy of attention and/or events which are ignored or suppressed. The originating neorealists were not only introducing an aesthetic but also challenging the view that ‘human kind cannot bear very much reality’ in its cinema.
As a movement neorealism is flexible, adaptable and generous. Its essence is to be found in its bone marrow and not in a set of rules – there are no obligatory twists and turns in a neorealist screenplay, for instance. Rome Open City ushered in a cinema that can flourish and is authentic in every society and every condition. Neorealism is universal.
Mamoun is very pleased to have been invited to introduce Rome Open City (Roma città aperta) on Monday 9th February 6.10pm at the BFI Southbank in NFT1 as part of the Passport to Cinema.
I landed in Beirut with my wife and young family on 19 April 1974 to take up my appointment as Head of Films Branch, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). A leftist leader had been assassinated in South Lebanon the previous day and that event is regarded as the start of the civil war. A few days later I drove down to Nabatieh Palestinian refugee camp in South Lebanon to film the consequence of Israeli bombing. The camp had been obliterated. A few days later I filmed the effect of bombing in Rashidieh, a camp further down the coast near Tyre.
The brief was to document the services – Housing, Education, Health, Rations – that UNRWA offered the Palestinian refugees. My immediate boss and chief of the AV division was the legendary Myrtle Winter Chaumeny (writer, photographer, sailor, dancer); the director of Information was John Defrates, the bravest man I have ever met, who was a Navy pilot in the icy waters near Vladivostock during WWll. I was given a fairly free hand but editorial control rested with UNRWA. What I saw in South Lebanon and elsewhere gave me the form of the film: the experience of life in the camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan – but not the West Bank because Israel refused me entry. Myrtle filmed that sequence.
So the story is about war in Lebanon; life in one the oldest camps near Aleppo established in 1948; work in Baqa’a in Jordan which accommodated thousands of fleeing refugees after the 1967 war; and education in Ramallah.
Since then everything has changed for the worse for the Palestinian people. The locations for the film are now war zones or something very similar. The tragedy continues.
The film was invited to the London Film Festival and Teheran Film Festival. A copy is held by The National Film Archive.
Some of the Palestinians is being shown as part of the Refugee season at the BFI South Bank, London. NFT 2, 19th June 2014. Tickets from the BFI ticket office and website.
We would like to give special thanks to David Somerset of BFI education for his support, and including this film in the season.
Filed under Lecturing, News
Mamoun has returned to the International Film school in Cuba as the visiting lecturer in Editing for four weeks. As well as his regular one-to-one sessions with the students, he will also be running his Movie Masterclasses.
For the first time, Mamoun will be running a Masterclass on the British Classic ‘The Third Man‘ on Wednesday 6th February. Mamoun has always considered this film to be one of the world greats, and is looking forward with excitement to exploring it with the students in Cuba. Mamoun would like to acknowledge the support from Studio Canal for this Masterclass.
As much of his work in Cuba is done in conjunction with a translator, it may be difficult for us to present any of the Masterclass here, but we hope to show a taster if the technical challenges do not preclude it.
Mamoun has also accepted an invitation from the Festival’s Presdient, Dr Ezzat Abu Ouf, to give a Masterclass. Mamoun has chosen to discuss Gillo Pontecorvo‘s masterpiece, The Battle of Algiers.
Mamoun has written a piece about The Battle of Algiers for The Times Higher Education Supplement, which can be read on the THES website.
Mamoun will be introducing the screening of The Maggie directed by Alexander Mackendrick at the National Film Theatre NFT1 on 9th November 2.00 pm, which is being screened as part of NFT Season of Ealing Films.
On 24th November, Mamoun will be presenting a 4-hour masterclass at the NFT on Mackendrick’s masterpiece The Man in The White Suit. NFT2 1.00pm – 5.00pm
The dates haven’t been listed on the BFI website yet, but if you want to book tickets, please check their website regularly.
Mamoun will be at The European Film College, Ebeltoft, Denmark to give Masterclasses – 1oth & 11th October.