Noblesse oblige. When the Italian aristocratic capitalism recognized and financed (also) the subversive force of “left” cinema. Lots of stuff – they say, right? – emerges from documentary Marina Cicogna – Life and everything in between by Andrea Bettinetti, presented at the Rome Festival 2021. A work that appears suspended in a mist from the Venetian lagoon and then snaps, polished and melted between Milan, Rome, New York, in reconstructing the professional and human universe of a productive, cultural and political icon of the formidable sixties / seventies: Marina Cicogna. First female producer in a world of voracious male sharks, an Oscar (Investigation of a citizen above suspicion), a Grand Prix in Cannes (idem), a Golden Lion in Venice (Bella di Giorno) with that Euro International Film which for fifteen years will churn out the best Petri, Once upon a time in the west e down the head of Leone, the still crazy and bizarre Avati of the beginnings.
But to understand Cicogna there is also Pasolini who snorts, complains, and finally he is forced to take Terence Stamp (and not “those actors of his”) for Teorema; Giuseppe Patroni Griffi taken by the collar after yet another delay in the projection room, thrown into an elevator and thrown out like an ordinary upstart. Daughter of Milanese counts on her father’s side and rich Venetian bourgeoisie on her mother’s side, Cicogna was the elegant and pragmatic apostrophe in a still very lively film industry where the concept of authorship and message crossed naturally with popularity and star system. Bettinetti’s documentary starts right from that Lido to the present among the stuccoes of the Excelsior and from that Venice festival to the remote past, created by grandfather Conte Volpi di Misurata, with Marina as a child and young girl in photos on the beach, among the extra-luxury cabins, together with the stars of Hollywood and Cinecittà (incidentally: what an extraordinary job of collecting and pertinent insertion of photographic shots in the narrative fabric this film has, eh?).
Then immediately the Oscar thing. Investigation of a citizen above all suspicion who in 1971 even won by surprise. Today we would have connections 24 hours a day. At the time in Los Angeles there were neither Elio Petri nor Gian Maria Volonté (members and activists of the Communist Party did not obtain visas), but not even Cicogna who then never could touch that Oscar with hand and keep it on the showcase (Paola Petri keeps it, ed). Investigation is the key to understanding the meaning of her work as a producer. The very Christian Democrat Gianluigi Rondi calls her crazy, Zeffirelli cuts her off, but she still declaims the obvious, glaring artistic and political value. Then again a brilliant intuitive examination of Volontè’s acting skills that not even a film historian; or the search for a definition and placement of the role of the producer in the relationship with the director of the film (“when he shoots I didn’t break his balls, then at the editing I said mine”), Cicogna appears to be decision-making and authoritarian like his male colleagues, but also extraordinarily woman in the ability to impose herself without pretending, lying, overdoing it.
Alongside the great Hollywood producers at a young age (David O. Selznick tells you anything? And more photos …), close friend of Valentino (the designer), from half the planet of Milanese fashion (Maison Gucci), as well as romantically linked to women since she was a girl: first the actress Florinda Bolkan and today the current partner Elisabetta. The “freedom for women to accept themselves” and self-affirmation first of all, the chic rebellion of the capitalist who feeds the anti-capitalist political message on an industrial level. Try to remember a film like Men against by Francesco Rosi, an authentic Italian pacifist and anti-militarist bet that would be the envy of any Blue Soldier or Paragraph 22. Absolute peculiarity, however, of Bettinetti’s work is that of cutting and sewing a narrative fabric that reflects itself never pimp in the reflection of the splendor of the wake and of the noble charm, ranging from karst from the current (“dear did you get the vaccine?” says her niece Ginevra Elkann and she: “Dear, I did the Covid”) to the anecdotal. At the center this fascinating, magnetic, statuary 85-year-old woman, “perfect wave” in the gray tuft, composed and punctual even when the memory becomes painful, unscratchable external roughness. The musical commentary by Fabio Barovero is very precious, flowing mimetic on the musical theme of Morricone in Metti, one evening at dinner by Patroni Griffi, produced ca va sans dire by the Cicogna.