Cinecittá – A Cinema Journey
What do Ben Hur, La Dolce Vita, Gangs of New York and Nine have in common? At first glance, we might think… nothing, but, if we pay attention to the credits, we will see they were all shot at Cinecittá. For many of us, these film studios, located on the outskirts of Rome, are inevitably associated with the name of the great Federico Fellini, but they have also been a privileged host to some of the best moments in cinema history, and the spot where a large number of movie stars converged.
This “Cinema City” was built in 1937 after the previous studios were destroyed in a fire, the cause of which has never been accounted for. The construction project was commissioned to the engineer, Carlo Roncoroni, and the architect, Gino Peressutti. The aim was to build a veritable city of the seventh art, capable of competing with Hollywood itself, which would turn Italian cinema into a worldwide beacon. It should be noted that Mussolini’s Fascist regime was in power at the time and, like Germany, the Italian regime regarded cinema as a powerful propaganda tool.
Fortunately for us, not everything produced there was regime propaganda as it eventually became the place that witnessed the passage of great names in the history of Italian cinema – Roberto Rossellini, Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica and Luchino Visconti.
Production came to a halt when the Second World War broke out, and the premises were even put to a different use. Two years before the war came to an end, Cinecittá was occupied by the Nazis and converted into a concentration camp for civilians. It was subsequently bombarded by Allied forces and then turned into a shelter for internally displaced people. All this upheaval led to the loss of most of the technical equipment and machinery once housed in the studios.
After weathering those dark years, Cinecittà gradually evolved into its period of greatest splendour. First, it became the site of grand American productions, featuring such unforgettable movies as Ben Hur,Quo Vadis? and Cleopatra. Second, this was where the careers of the great figures of Italian cinema unfolded. And, the presence of the Americans brought a fresh lease of life and modernity to the Eternal City, as so accurately portrayed in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.
But all golden ages have their expiry date and the number of large-scale productions began to wane in the seventies, losing out to television. The fact is that the trend of block-buster productions started falling behind, while Italian cinema gradually ceased to be a major player on the world scene. Despite this, the studios can still boast of having been involved in such movies as The Godfather III, by Francis Ford Coppola (1988), The English Patient, by Anthony Minghella (1996), Gangs of New York, by Martin Scorsese (2002), The Passion of the Christ, by Mel Gibson (2004) and the popular television series,HBO Rome (2005-2007).
On a curious note and perhaps as a symbol of our times, Cinecittá is currently the premises of the house and set of Grande Fratello, the Italian version of Big Brother, a contest which has become one of the great television hits.
Cinecittá is now a place of pilgrimage for any film-lovers worth their salt, although what remains to experience is merely an exercise in nostalgic reunion with a period in which cinema was different. It is also a good excuse for taking the whole family along to teach the new generations some cinema history and show them one of its landmark venues. In addition to its sets and some of the most popular set designs, visitors can also see the exhibitions hosted in the Fellini Building.
Nowadays, it might feel weird to stroll through those almost ghostly spaces, tinged with the decadence of time, and try to relive the period in which the great American film stars walked those corridors. What is guaranteed though is the flush of excitement one feels when catching sight of its stunning, iconic entrance.
Ready for a trip to the cinema? Check out your Vueling to Rome here.
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
Rotterdam Cinema Capital
What do cities like Cannes, Berlin,Venice, San Sebastián or Locarno have in common? Well, they all host long-standing film festivals and, for a number of days and at different spots in town, all feature both screenings and parallel events as a tribute to the seventh art. Visiting these cities during a festival reveals a different side to them. Instead of the conventional tourist escapade, it involves experiencing the city from a cultural viewpoint like any of its residents. To the above-mentioned cities we should add Rotterdam, famous for having one of the largest maritime harbours in the world. It is also an industrial centre and a capital of football, with three teams in the Dutch top-flight Eredivisie – Feyenoord, Sparta and Excelsior. Over and above that, however, Rotterdam is privileged to host a highly potent film festival which turns the city into one of the leading world cinema hubs for a period of twelve days.
This time around, the International Film Festival Rotterdam (its official name) will take place from 25 January to 5 February 2017, and the programme is dedicated to art house films, both European and international, and the leading figures of independent cinema. This year is dedicated to a retrospective of Jan Němec, one of the paramount filmmakers in Czech cinema, who died a few months ago. A tribute to his figure will involve screening his best known films, as well as a posthumous film, The Wolf from Royal Vineyard Street. The official festival lineup will feature the latest movies by Jim Jarmusch, Paterson and Gimme Danger, in addition to the long-awaited film, Jackie, by Pablo Larraín, starring Natalie Portman.
The focal point of the festival will be De Doelen, a venue with an eventful history in downtown Rotterdam. Its location gives you plenty of time to stroll around and discover the city between screenings. De Doelen was built in 1966 and is both a convention centre and the primary venue of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The other cinemas providing screenings are also in the city centre, in such charming theatres as Oude Luxor and the Pathé Schouwburgplein. They are relatively near some museums which are well worth visiting, including the Maritime Museum, devoted to the importance of maritime culture and various aspects of sailing. Apart from the exhibition space, it features a canal in the surrounding area offering all types of parallel activities. The Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum is Rotterdam’s stellar art museum with an amazing collection, a dream come true for any painting enthusiast. Its exhibits include works by Salvador Dalí, Tintoretto, Hubert van Eyck, Willem Heda and Pieter Bruegel, among others, but it doesn’t stop there – the museum also covers other art disciplines (industrial design, installations, graffiti) and itinerant exhibitions that are refreshed each month. By the way – the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum is just a stone’s throw away from Museumpark, one of the city’s lungs and most beautiful parks.
Apart from the aforementioned films and cycles, the International Film Festival Rotterdam also hosts a number of out-of-the-ordinary special screenings. One of the most prominent is a whole, day-long session dedicated to children. This year it falls on Sunday 29 January and features a selection of films which the little ones can enjoy in the company of their parents. Other events worth mentioning include two short marathons to be hosted on 4 February. Lasting six hours each, they will be held in the Kino Rotterdam, a cinema where you can also have dinner or a drink, if you wish. Check out the rest of the festival events here.
Be sure to discover Rotterdam through the prism of its cinema festival – book your Vueling here.
Text by Xavi Sánchez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUISmore info
Cannes – Cinema and Much More
Cinema, glamour and luxury could well define this wonderful city on the French Riviera. Any mention of the name Cannes conjures up some of the media highlights of the year, like their film festival, when the city is decked out in all its finery and peopled with the most famous faces of the seventh art, as well as many a socialite eager not to miss such a worthy spectacle. But, cinema is not everything and Cannes is much more than film stars and millionaires to be gawked at. We urge you to discover both facets of this fantastic city.
Strolling Along the Promenade de la Croisette is De Rigeur
This boulevard, once known as the Chemin de la Petite Croix (Road of the Little Cross), as it had – and still has – a small cross, could well be rechristened the “Promenade of the Stars”. Replete with haute couture stores, luxury restaurants and fantastic hotels, and thronging with all kinds of celebrities, it is the perfect place for wandering about and soaking up the glitter of everything that’s going on. On your walk you will come across such iconic hotels as the InterContinental Carlton, housed in an elegant palace dating from 1911, the Art Deco Hôtel Martinez and the Majestic, before finally reaching the legendary Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. As you may have guessed, this is where the Cannes Film Festival is held each year. Those eager to see the facilities where such a prodigious event is hosted can satiate their curiosity by booking a guided tour of the premises. Another classic on La Croisette is theChemin des Étoiles,located opposite the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, which features the handprints of numerous great film stars, directors and other prominent figures from the world of cinema.
In addition to the foregoing, remember that this promenade runs along the seafront, so be sure to visit the beaches and delight in the panoramic views of the bay – it is well worth seeing. What you should know, however, is that most of the beaches lining the promenade are private; that is, the space is taken up by deck chairs belonging to luxury hotels, although you can of course rent them. There is also a small public beach near the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.
Discover the “Other Cannes” in the Vieux Port and Le Suquet
As we intimated in the introduction, apart from the cinema scene, Cannes offers a lot to see and do that will surprise you, albeit on a far grander scale. To this end you should head for the Vieux Port where, in addition to big luxury yachts, you will come across the locals going about their daily business. From here, we recommend venturing into Le Suquet, the city’s old quarter, characterised by narrow streets and charming public squares. One of the best views of Cannes is to be had in this area, from the vantage point of the Castre Museum, located in the Place de la Castre. You will not regret the climb to the top when you see the panoramic view of La Croisette and the Palais des Festivals stretching out at your feet.
Book your Vueling to Nice, which lies just 33 kilometres from Cannes, and discover one of the most glamourous cities in the Mediterranean.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Images by Daniel70mi Falciolamore info
A Movie Lovers Berlin
In times when being a tourist has become so passé – the learned traveller wisely tries to avoid crowded places when seeking out the heart of a city – you could do worse than hunt for cinemas with character when visiting another country. Traditional cinemas have vanished in many places. I am referring to the ones with just a single auditorium – or two at most – which are not owned by some international conglomerate. Architecturally quaint buildings where cinema-goers felt like pilgrims going to a special place.
Berlin is a cinema lover’s capital in itself. Directors such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wim Wenders were obsessed with it. Indeed, Wenders immortalised the city in his Wings of Desire and Faraway, So Close! (a sequel to the former), which have spawned articles and tours that point up the importance of Berlin’s architecture and real landmarks from the films – the Victory Column, Brandenburg Gate and Staatsbibliothek, designed by Hans Scharoun. With such a cinema tradition behind it, no wonder the city has so many movie theatres to choose from. More so, those that pamper their appearance and their movie listings. Following is our choice of five of the best which, to wit, offer some added value, such as screening films in English or featuring subtitles in that language. So, if you’re a devotee of the seventh art with a smattering of English, or merely wish to visit the buildings and their cafés, this rundown is for you.
One of the city’s most prestigious cinemas, which screens original-version movies. It comprises three, small but well-equipped auditoriums, as well as a bar-café and a video library with a large selection of films on DVD and Blu-ray. The interior is amazing – some of the rooms look like a set from a film by David Lynch. Ladenkino is located in the Friedrichshain district, very near Boxhagener Platz, where a well-known open-air flea market is held every Sunday.
Located in Schöneberg, one of Berlin’s most charming quarters –Marlene Dietrich and Helmut Newton were both born here – the area is also celebrated for its attractive culinary offerings. The Odeon captivates from the outset, prominently featuring a green neon light and an old-school awning displaying screening times, and witty phrases and questions, setting the scene for cinema-goers. Their forte is signature films and independent cinema.
The punkiest cinema in this list, wholly in tune with Berlin’s industrial imagery, artistically speaking. They have two auditoriums and a highly varied programme based on American and English films far removed from all grandiose Hollywood blockbusters, save for the odd exception. Located a few metres from Hackescher, a beautiful square in Berlin’s Mitte quarter which also hosts a market. Kino Central is one of the city’s film lovers’ secret haunts.
The cradle of Berlin’s punk movement, the Kreuzberg district boasts a healthy culture scene, so be sure to visit the legendary SO36 club, where Iggy Pop and David Bowie were regular clients in the seventies. The Babylon cinema is one of its nerve centres and features two auditoriums in a three-storey building with a history, which offers a bit of everything, from Indie cinema to the re-screening of classics and also horror movies (a festival of this genre is held every October).
“Spectacular” is the word that best defines this small palace, seemingly a throwback from former times. In effect, its history stretches back several decades and both the auditorium and other facilities are markedly vintage. This is a peerless setting for raising the cinema experience to another level. It is sited in an awesome location, hard by the legendary Alexanderplatz, which makes it a compulsory landmark for any inquiring sightseer.
Fire up and discover these temples for movie lovers – book your Vueling here.
Text by Xavi Sánchez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUISmore info