There is a strong connection between curating film programs for festivals and videographic approaches to film studies and criticism: like video essaysts, festival curators, through their choices and the montage of different works in a programme, aim at both conveying an original view on cinema, as well as their subjective cinephilic experience. It is perhaps because of this mutual connection, then, that film festivals have played an important part in giving legitimacy to videographic practices and to foster their diffusion within the community of film critics and festivalgoers. The introduction of video essays as part of the screenings in well-established film festivals, such as the International Film Festival Rotterdam, has proven to be successful, and in fact so far several film festivals have accepted and even encouraged the submission of this kind of works.
My personal experience as a scholar and a practitioner in videographic film studies confirms the crucial role festivals have in acknowledging the audiovisual essay both as a critical and as a creative form. Since last year I have co-curated with Andrea Minuz a video essay competition, (Ri)montaggi, for young film students and critics for the Pesaro Film Festival: this section aims at encouraging emerging audiovisual forms of film analysis and criticism in Italy, showing at the same time the potentialities of audiovisual methodologies.
Furthermore, during this year’s edition of the Locarno Film Festival I have presented a project co-curated with Daniela Persico and the film criticism magazine Filmidee: “Per una controstoria del cinema italiano” (For a Counterhistory of Italian Cinema), developed with support from the Compagnia di San Paolo. The screening of the eight video essays—realized for the project through the collaboration of eight tutors and nine young film students and critics—has been an invaluable occasion to share with an international community of critics and festivalgoers our very personal “alternative entries” to the Italian film history. Even though the project privileges neglected or overlooked directors, anonymous materials, genre films, and in some cases new readings of well-known actors and directors of our national cinema, the audiovisual form helps overcoming the linguistic barriers and gives a more immediate sense of the works examined. And an international film festival is a unique context for encouraging a lively and insightful conversation on videographic experiments which aim to go beyond the snack-content model to provide, instead, a renewed perspective on our filmic heritage.