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Italy, 1992 (MIFF 1994, Documentaries)

Director: Adriano Apra

Roberto Rossellini is a filmmaker who is anything but homogeneous, and in Rossellini Seen By Rossellini the great Italian neo-realist director is reflected in his own cinematic mirror. From Rome Open City to the Ingrid Bergman melodramas, from Viva I'Italia to Acts Of The Apostles, his long career is characterised by frequent variations in style that illustrate his constant curiosity and personal journey - rationalism and irrationalism, religion and atheism, technical mastery and rejection of art.

Director Adriano Apra has captured this multifacetedness by letting Rossellini speak for himself, surveying his life through his own words on film and tape. The only other voices we hear in this collage of film fragments, clips from working copies, personal interviews, photographs and scenes from his private life are those of Bergman and a poignant tribute from daughter Isabella. Her view that, rather than see her father's work as three distinct periods (neo-realism, the Bergman films, the TV histories), it should be seen as one long encyclopedia of humanity, is the key to the film. Apra constructs a portrait of surprising juxtapositions, unravelling chronological conventions with his crosscutting between past and future, flashbacks and flashforwards, blending thought and work, public and private image. Rare glimpses of Rossellini's contentious fascist period war dramas The White Boat and A Pilot Returns reveal how, even from the very beginning, it was always the individual's crisis that was the focus of his camera.

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