The global film festival will present a programme curated by Guy Borlée, who will be present at specific screenings, providing an opportunity for in-depth discussions on the world of heritage cinema and the art of filmmaking.
Cinema Akil, the independent cinema in the GCC, has announced its collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute Abu Dhabi as it plays host to the globally acclaimed Il Cinema Ritrovato on Tour, marking the festival’s debut in the Middle East. From September 15 to 21, Cinema Akil, in partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute Abu Dhabi, will present this event. To facilitate the festival’s Middle East Debut, the partners have worked with Cineteca di Bologna, a European archive for film restoration and preservation, and the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, founded by Martin Scorsese.
Il Cinema Ritrovato, initially founded as a three-day gathering in 1986, has evolved into one of the world’s foremost festivals dedicated to screening cinematic classics, retrospectives, and the latest restored films from labs and archives worldwide. This collaboration with Cinema Akil and the Italian Cultural Institute Abu Dhabi represents a significant cultural milestone in the Middle East with the first edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato on Tour coming to Cinema Akil with seven heritage films, each digitally restored by Cineteca di Bologna in their state-of-the-art laboratory, L’Immagine Ritrovata. This collection, making its Middle Eastern debut, invites viewers on a journey through the cinematic archives of Italy, India, Morocco, Iran, and Angola, meticulously curated by Festival Coordinator, Guy Borlée.
Commencing on September 15, Il Cinema Ritrovato on Tour will showcase seven masterpieces, promising to transport cinema enthusiasts through different time periods of Italian cinema and unveil new horizons in the realm of global cinema. The film lineup commences with Vittorio De Sica’s timeless neorealistic gem, Sciuscià (Shoeshine), a portrayal of the struggles faced by two shoeshine boys in post-war Italy. Released in 1946, it became the first-ever recipient of the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film. Following this opener, the festival will screen Sambizanga, a narrative chronicling Angola’s journey towards independence and the fight for freedom, directed by Sarah Maldoror, one of Africa’s pioneering female directors. Guy Borlée will be present for select screenings, engaging cinema enthusiasts in deeper conversation about heritage cinema and the art of filmmaking.
The programme dedicated to preserving the treasures of cinematic history will also feature Assunta Spina, a silent masterpiece considered a precursor to neorealism, featuring Francesca Bertini, who co-directed the film alongside Gustavo Serena. This restored version is accompanied by a recorded Neapolitan music score composed by Guido Sodo and François Laurent. Another highlight is Chess of the Wind, a murder mystery, screened only once in Iran in 1976 before being banned and considered lost. Directed by Mohammad Reza Aslani, the film unfolds in a candlelit mansion, weaving a tale of greed, violence, and betrayal among heirs to a family fortune.
As part of Il Cinema Ritrovato on Tour, Signore E Signori, internationally known as The Birds, The Bees and The Italians, will grace the screen. Directed by Pietro Germi, the film earned the Golden Palm at Cannes for its humorous exploration of bourgeois life in a small town, shedding light on corruption in Northern Italy. Additionally, Ritwik Ghatak’s A River Called Titas will be screened at Cinema Akil, depicting the lives of fishing communities in pre-Partition East Bengal and their struggle for survival. Lastly, the festival will showcase Ahmed El Maanouni’s documentary Al Hal – Transes, casting a spotlight on the Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane, captured during the series of live performances in the streets of Casablanca and intimate conversations.
Speaking about Il Cinema Ritrovato On Tour, Ida Zilio-Grandi, Director of Italian Cultural Institute Abu Dhabi, said: “We are honoured to once again join hands with Cinema Akil, this time for the region’s first edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato On Tour. It is for the first time that the film festival is coming to the Middle East and we’re looking forward to witnessing Cinema Akil become the destination of exchange and offer a glimpse into the timeless and historic allure of filmmaking .”
Butheina Kazim, Founder of Cinema Akil, added: “The iconic Il Cinema Ritrovato has been an inspiration to our work at Cinema Akil throughout our journey since we opened our doors. As one of the world’s most iconic film festivals dedicated to classic and repertory cinema, the festival’s programming and the restoration efforts of the Cineteca di Bologna is responsible for keeping humanity’s shared cinema history alive. With the support of our ongoing partners at the Italian Cultural Institute in Abu Dhabi, it is an honour for us to bring this collaboration to Dubai as an affirmation of our commitment to the magic of cinema from across borders and time.”
Guy Borlée, the Festival Coordinator, stated: “I am honoured to be a part of the team bringing Il Cinema Ritrovato on Tour to Dubai. Cineteca di Bologna has been restoring great classics for years, to make them available around the world and give them a second youth. Thanks to Cinema Akil, cinephiles will have a chance to (re)discover a great selection of heritage films and exchange point of view.”
Tickets for Cinema Ritrovato on Tour are priced at AED 50 ($13.61) (excluding VAT), with a Season Pass available for AED 175 ($47.64) (excluding VAT). Tickets are now available for purchase exclusively online. Box Office operating hours are from 6 pm to 10 pm, Mondays to Thursdays, and 3 pm to 10 pm, Fridays to Sundays.