A festival approaching the hundredth year since the birth of Orson Welles, will be held to discover new aspects of the boundless creativity of the director of Citizen Kane. The festival will strive to promote better understanding of Orson Welles’ enormous influence on the cinema during the last six or seven decades starting with the films that have thus far been found, moving on to his films reported missing, and hoping for further miraculous recoveries.
Besides the commemoration, nostalgia and appreciating the great classic cinema, we intend to see, understand and study “the planet Welles”, to account for the profound crisis that has been going through the art of film making since the beginning of this millennium and the consequent lack of prospects.
We will provide a picture as complete as possible of all the facets of his works and personality, while trying to figure out the real magnitude of his inheritance.
The overall project is structured on the main focus that consists of all the films made by Orson Welles in his life, including the unfinished works, plus five special sections.
These sections will not be complete but will have two selection criteria: the availability of films, and our own choices that will be rigorously substantiated.The five special sections are as follows:
- ORSON WELLES AS DIRECTOR OF FILMS IN WHICH HE ACTED;
- ORSON WELLES IN ITALY: THE DIRECTOR, THE ACTOR, HIS RELATIONSHIP AND LINKS WITH ITALIAN CINEMA AND CULTURE;
- FILMS MADE BY OTHER DIRECTORS ON WELLES (documentaries and fiction);
- QUALITY WELLESIAN FILMAKERS;
- ORSON WELLES AND SERGHEJ EISENSTEIN.
In the first special section we will present films with Orson Welles as an actor, but not as a director. We can show that, in many cases, Welles has imposed himself directing all, or almost all, the scenes in which he appears, and we will describe how and how much the atmosphere of the film totally changes from the moment he comes into the scene. The most famous example of it is The Third Man, but we have also identified another dozen significant films following this criterion.
In the second special section we will take a selection of the films belonging to the long Italian period of Welles as an actor and as a director. But we will also consider recent studies, research projects and even novels about his stay in Italy and especially his love for our country, where Orson had actually spent long and significant parts of his life and where he married his third wife and had his third daughter.
We want to give particular importance to this section, because we think that so far his relationship with Italy, with the Italian cinema, and with the Italian culture has been completely forgotten, neglected and greatly underrated.
In this section we consider it essential to organize a seminar-convention to carry out studies and to review two films that are still unreleased.
In the third special section we will present all of the films that feature Orson Welles himself, specific episodes of his life, and his cinema. Of those we have 6 individual films, but amongst them we have one which was announced in December 2014 and so we hope it will be presented for National Review.
None of these 6 films ever made it into a movie theatre, and so showing them will be an interesting exercise as well as an attraction to provide discussion. Moreover it will be necessary to present some of the many documentaries featuring Orson as an artist and as a man.
The special fourth section is an idea of ours which is not to be considered as a whim, but indeed it is a first step to highlight and study the enormous influence of Orson Welles’ works on a whole series of film makers. We chose films by great directors who have more of a debt to Citizen Kane and beyond. We will obviously illustrate and explain about the films and their directors presenting each film and each director one by one.
Moreover we intend to organise a series of events meant to look into how the cinema has changed after Citizen Kane. We often hear “After Citizen Kane the method of making films is not as it once was”, but no-one has ever really gone beyond this purely rhetoric statement. We will take special care of three grand masters: Charlie Chaplin, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese, to examine their links to Welles’ cinema which have so far remained too little known as well as too little investigated.
The special fifth section has the special objective to tackle for the first time the well known problem of the intense relationship of mutual esteem between Welles and Eisenstein. Despite Welles’ repeated statements about the importance of his relationship with Eisenstein, nobody has bothered to look into what Welles might have learnt from the great Soviet director (The Lion of Riga). Moreover, nobody has ever really bothered to look into how Welles’ first great film might have influenced the last tragic part of the of Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible. Last but not least, we will also consider the links between Welles’ unfinished film It’s all true and Eisenstein’s Mexican film, which was also unfinished. Such links have never been studied before.
Finally, we also mean to show that F for Fake (one of Welles’ last films) is an almost explicit homage to The Lion of Riga, and we think we have solid arguments to prove so. The links between Welles and Eisenstein are a much more complex and rich issue than so far considered.
It is quite clear that such a project cannot be considered complete without international meetings of study and discussion. Actually, we realize that, on the basis of the above, there should be two events.
- An international seminar on the work of Welles, with particular reference to the numerous unreleased and unfinished works that have resurfaced. So far there are two official ones, but with The Deep they became three, and maybe there will be more coming. For this reason, but not only for this reason, we believe that Orson Welles is largely unknown. Thanks to and by means of the rich cinema photography material we hope to show, we think it is possible to focus on all the complexity of the personality of this versatile genius.
- A conference/seminar on Orson Welles in Italy. In our opinion this is very important because many interesting situations have been forgotten and even hidden for a strange aversion, typically Italian, towards an American man, settled comfortably in Italy, who even married a girl with blue blood.
Conference A is certainly the most challenging. However both of them will need specific scrutiny to verify the feasibility of these events.
The focus of all films to be included in this project is like a continuous and open construction site; a work in progress. When we have minimal positive feedback, we will add it as an appendix to the project documentation. Meanwhile, we offer an overall summary.
Orson Welles’ films, which we calculate to be 18, (subject to error and/or new discoveries), are not full-length films, considering those that are unfinished.
Regarding the special sections, we calculated an average of five or six films for each section. We can say that overall we are providing some fifty films (in the broad sense): a small festival of classics and premiers. All films will be presented with special care and in simple language, especially to attract young audiences (accustomed to spectacular noisy performances) with a special introduction to each section.
Finally, it will be obviously necessary to provide an edited catalogue, printed programs and adequate presentations will be necessary for the conference proceedings.
In conclusion we have made some assumptions about timing. The Centenary of Orson Welles falls on the 6th May 2015 and that same day there will be a world premiere of the film The other Side of the Wind in Paris. So, in May we would like to announce the big event of Welles’ Festival, that will be in September/October, and, on the same occasion, we could show The other Side of the Wind or maybe add some other rarity and/or premiere, which can be decided at the time.
This pre-announcement should be considered separately from the present draft of the Event itself.
MILAN December 27th, 2014.
(Translation from Italian language by: Tony Bridges and Steven Fioco)