Short films by Valerio Zurlini | Chicago Reader

Short films by Valerio Zurlini

Valerio Zurlini once said that he made his first documentary, The Boxers (1952), as a calling-card film, but its authentic physicality is rare in a genre that could be mannered even back then. Noirish lighting, off-balance close-ups, and compositions organized around diagonals produce a mix of dynamism and intimacy—one can almost smell the fighters' sweat. All five documentaries on this program create an expansive vision, showing us the emotions of not one character but several, and not just emotions but the social situations that cause them. Penny Serenade (1954), about street singers and musicians, begins with a sequence intercutting different relatives as they write the performers to ask for money. The Market of Faces (1952) examines the personal lives of movie extras (mistranslated in the subtitles as “generics”), and La stazione (1955) portrays Rome's central train station as “a grand organism,” observing passengers, workers, and idlers alike. Also showing: Soldiers in the City (1953). 65 min.

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