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An Investigative Cinema: Politics and Modernization in Italian, French, and American Film

General Programming

dateDecember 6, 2018 timeThursday, 6:00pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Department of Italian
  • The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Arts and Sciences Graduate Council
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • First come, first seated

On this occasion, Fabrizio Cilento (Messiah College) will present his most recent book, published by Palgrave Macmillan in Fall 2018 and titled An Investigative Cinema: Politics and Modernization in Italian, French, and American Film. After Cilento’s presentation, Elizabeth Leake (Columbia, Italian), Giancarlo Lombardi (CUNY, Comparative Lit.), and Richard Peña (Columbia, Film and Media) will act as respondents. A wine and cheese reception will close the event.

Fabrizio Cilento’s monograph traces the development of a previously unrecognized category he calls “investigative cinema,” whose main characteristic lies in reconstructing actual events, political crises and conspiracies. In dealing with governmental power as manifested in a Kafkaesque legal system, impersonal bureaucracy, and the repressive forces of the army and police, these documentary-like films refrain from a simplistic reconstruction of historical events and are mainly concerned with producing what does not immediately appear on the surface of events. Consequently, they raise questions about the nature of the “truth” promoted by institutions, newspapers, archives, dossiers, television and new media reports, or digital audio and video files.

In his talk, Fabrizio Cilento will examine the centrality of investigative cinema in relation to the historical conjunctures of the “economic miracle” in Italy, the simultaneous decolonization and reordering of culture in France, the waves of globalization and neoliberalism in post-dictatorial Latin America, and the post-Watergate, and post-9/11 climate in US society. Against this background of economic transformation and modernization, the history of investigative cinema is exemplified by the films Salvatore Giuliano, The Battle of Algiers, The Parallax View, Zero Dark Thirty, and Gomorrah among others, as well as TV series such as Homeland.