Programmed as part of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival but postpones due to the epic snow feature in the country, A Kind of Seeing’s event, Divas, Despots and Dancing, which included a screening of silent Italian film, Assunta Spina, accompanied by a live scoring by The Badwills, was scheduled for May. Disappointing as this was, with the change in venue (it was originally to be in St Andrews in the Square) and the lack therefore of dancing (the GFT cinema screen rooms are not really catered for that kind of event) it was still an enriching experience and idea viewing for a Wednesday night, an Italian drama with an evocative, cinematic piece performed live.
Classically Italian, the film incorporates all three, passion, jealousy and revenge, rendering it an edge of the seat kind of silent film. The acting was expectedly over the top, the scene and setting resplendent and the subtitles sparse. The addition of the live score by seven-piece band The Badwills was welcomed as this evocative piece added extra meaning and a further subtext to the film, which made it much more enjoyable viewing. Assunta Spina stars Francesca Bertini, one of Italian cinema’s greatest ‘silent diva’ actresses, smouldering on-screen as she’s caught up in a passionately violent love triangle. Co-commissioned by Glasgow Film Festival and A Kind of Seeing, the live score complemented the Neapolitan backdrop with finesse, never distracting for the film but livening the whole experience and establishing the feeling, the setting and the drama.
Driven by a passion for connecting archives with place, A Kind of Seeing, otherwise known as Shona Thomson, collaborates with audiences, organisations, artists and communities across Scotland and internationally through high profile touring and artist-led projects in all sorts of spaces across cinema exhibition, archive film, live music and performance. And this is a prime example of her work, with a strong Italian connection in the West of Scotland, establishing a cultured journey visually and aurally for the evening. A fantastic piece of curation, and I look forward to seeing more of this kind of thing.
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