victoria duckett:Thank you for agreeing to talk with me today. I would like to start by asking you to explain what you do.
mariann lewinsky:I mainly do silent cinema programs for Il Cinema Ritrovato here in Bologna. Il Cinema Ritrovato is by now the major international festival for films of the past, screening not only silent films, but also [films that go] up to the present. This year, for example, the restoration of Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman (1975) was screened here. But I mainly work with silent films.
vd:What do you do with these sections? What is your role?
ml:I decide and propose which sections and films I would like to do. However, there is one section we do every year (since 2003), the “100 Years Ago” [Cento anni fa] section, presenting films from one hundred years ago. This is a very important source of inspiration for other [festival] sections. For example, the first feminist or women's section I did came from viewing films from 1905 and 1906, where I discovered how strong female comedy was in early cinema; it was a real surprise [figures 2–3]. These, of course, were also the years of the suffragette movement. So I decided to do something on comic actresses and suffragettes. With this program, which I curated for the 2008 Il Cinema Ritrovato together with Bryony Dixon and Madeleine Bernstorff, I managed to implement a “women's section.” Since then we have regularly done programs dedicated to a feminist—or let's say a female—subject or figure, like “Fearless and Peerless: Adventurous Women of the Silent Screen” (in 2010, cocurated with Monica Dall'Asta); directors Alice Guy (curated by Kim Tomadjoglu), Germaine Dulac (curated by Tami Williams), and …