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Economic history and Art-House cinema

The screening of Welcome Venice (2021), a film by Andrea Segre that is currently competing for the David di Donatello award, brings to an end the tenth edition of the Cinema & History refresher and training course for teachers. The course is promoted by Fondazione ISEC and the Pirelli Foundation, for the second consecutive year in collaboration with the Cinema Beltrade in Milan.

In the online meetings (five lessons and a workshop), 200 teachers who registered from across all Italy examined the economic history of Italy in depth, from Unification through to the contemporary age, acquiring the tools they need for including an economic perspective in their own teaching courses.

True to tradition, the course started with a lecture by Professor Marco Meriggi, professor of the History of Political Institutions at the University of Naples Federico II, who gave an insight into the pre-Unification period and a series of events that still influence our world today.

The film chosen to accompany this first lecture was Happy as Lazzaro (2018), by Alice Rohrwacher, a political fairy-tale that tells the story of fifty years of Italian history through the events of its starry-eyed protagonist.

The second event was curated by Monica Naldi of the Beltrade Cinema who, with the Cinema in the classroom workshop, gave the teachers some ideas for the best ways to use cinema for teaching purposes. She started with a selection of titles and illustrated various methods for allowing films to arouse curiosity and interest in the students.

In the second lecture of the course, Professor Vera Negri Zamagni, of the Department of Economics at the University of Bologna, examined the period when the Italian state was born. The participants examined the complex modernisation and industrialisation process that Italy had embarked upon, starting from an economically and socially backward baseline riven by huge inequalities.

The contrast between the working class and the managers of a textile factory in Turin in the late nineteenth century is at the centre of one of Mario Monicelli’s masterpieces, The Organizer (1963), which was chosen to illustrate the changes that took place during that period.

The third lecture was held by Professor Mario Perugini, professor of Economic History at the University of Catania and at Bocconi University in Milan, who looked at the inter-war years to reconstruct the extraordinary period that ultimately led to the great expansion of Italian industry, in a virtuous intertwining of public and private companies.

Franco Rossi’s film Youth March (1969) took the participants on the course through the story of the friendship between three young university students in Ferrara, whose lives are separated by the war, in a tale of private feelings coupled with a historical and political overview.

Antonio Calabrò, the director of the Pirelli Foundation, gave a lecture on the period immediately following the Second World War which, in just a few years and thanks to political, economic and social decisions, led to a radical transformation of the industry, employment, consumption and lifestyles of the Italians, which became known as the “economic miracle”.

Ermanno Olmi’s partly autobiographical film Il Posto (1961) masterfully portrays the profound changes that took place during this period in Italian society in major cities, in characters that have remained indelibly impressed upon Italian cinema, inspiring entire generations of filmmakers.

 

In the last lecture of the course, given by Professor Marco Doria, professor of Economic History and History of International Economic Relations at the University of Genoa, the participants examined the contemporary period. The lecture took them from the processes of globalisation and the consequent readjustment of international economic balances that showed up the fragile Italian industrial structure with its multitude of small businesses, to the huge opportunities that have opened up for our country, which is known worldwide for the quality and originality of its products.

The current situation was then described in the scenes of Welcome Venice, which like all the other films chosen for the course, was introduced and commented on by the Cinema Beltrade. The clash between two brothers, fishermen in Giudecca, illustrates the sweeping changes taking place in the life and identity of Venice and its people, brought about by the ever greater impact of global tourism.

The anniversary celebrating the first ten years of the Cinema & History course could hardly have been better, once again showing how the key to its success is the opportunity it has given to teachers to expand their knowledge of subjects that cut across the various school disciplines and to improve their use of films as a tool in the classroom.

The screening of Welcome Venice (2021), a film by Andrea Segre that is currently competing for the David di Donatello award, brings to an end the tenth edition of the Cinema & History refresher and training course for teachers. The course is promoted by Fondazione ISEC and the Pirelli Foundation, for the second consecutive year in collaboration with the Cinema Beltrade in Milan.

In the online meetings (five lessons and a workshop), 200 teachers who registered from across all Italy examined the economic history of Italy in depth, from Unification through to the contemporary age, acquiring the tools they need for including an economic perspective in their own teaching courses.

True to tradition, the course started with a lecture by Professor Marco Meriggi, professor of the History of Political Institutions at the University of Naples Federico II, who gave an insight into the pre-Unification period and a series of events that still influence our world today.

The film chosen to accompany this first lecture was Happy as Lazzaro (2018), by Alice Rohrwacher, a political fairy-tale that tells the story of fifty years of Italian history through the events of its starry-eyed protagonist.

The second event was curated by Monica Naldi of the Beltrade Cinema who, with the Cinema in the classroom workshop, gave the teachers some ideas for the best ways to use cinema for teaching purposes. She started with a selection of titles and illustrated various methods for allowing films to arouse curiosity and interest in the students.

In the second lecture of the course, Professor Vera Negri Zamagni, of the Department of Economics at the University of Bologna, examined the period when the Italian state was born. The participants examined the complex modernisation and industrialisation process that Italy had embarked upon, starting from an economically and socially backward baseline riven by huge inequalities.

The contrast between the working class and the managers of a textile factory in Turin in the late nineteenth century is at the centre of one of Mario Monicelli’s masterpieces, The Organizer (1963), which was chosen to illustrate the changes that took place during that period.

The third lecture was held by Professor Mario Perugini, professor of Economic History at the University of Catania and at Bocconi University in Milan, who looked at the inter-war years to reconstruct the extraordinary period that ultimately led to the great expansion of Italian industry, in a virtuous intertwining of public and private companies.

Franco Rossi’s film Youth March (1969) took the participants on the course through the story of the friendship between three young university students in Ferrara, whose lives are separated by the war, in a tale of private feelings coupled with a historical and political overview.

Antonio Calabrò, the director of the Pirelli Foundation, gave a lecture on the period immediately following the Second World War which, in just a few years and thanks to political, economic and social decisions, led to a radical transformation of the industry, employment, consumption and lifestyles of the Italians, which became known as the “economic miracle”.

Ermanno Olmi’s partly autobiographical film Il Posto (1961) masterfully portrays the profound changes that took place during this period in Italian society in major cities, in characters that have remained indelibly impressed upon Italian cinema, inspiring entire generations of filmmakers.

 

In the last lecture of the course, given by Professor Marco Doria, professor of Economic History and History of International Economic Relations at the University of Genoa, the participants examined the contemporary period. The lecture took them from the processes of globalisation and the consequent readjustment of international economic balances that showed up the fragile Italian industrial structure with its multitude of small businesses, to the huge opportunities that have opened up for our country, which is known worldwide for the quality and originality of its products.

The current situation was then described in the scenes of Welcome Venice, which like all the other films chosen for the course, was introduced and commented on by the Cinema Beltrade. The clash between two brothers, fishermen in Giudecca, illustrates the sweeping changes taking place in the life and identity of Venice and its people, brought about by the ever greater impact of global tourism.

The anniversary celebrating the first ten years of the Cinema & History course could hardly have been better, once again showing how the key to its success is the opportunity it has given to teachers to expand their knowledge of subjects that cut across the various school disciplines and to improve their use of films as a tool in the classroom.