The Taviani Brothers

Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque & ACMI

“Living May Be Tragic, But Life Isn't”: The Films of the Taviani Brothers

Film program

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Wed 28 Feb – Wed 13 Mar 2024

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Among the last survivors of their generation of Italian filmmakers, brothers Paolo (1931–) and Vittorio (1929–2018) Taviani began their remarkable partnership making documentary shorts during the last days of the neorealist era. Their seamless working relationship – Marcello Mastroianni responded to questions about the experience of working with two directors with mock surprise: “There were two of them?” – extended to taking turns directing setups, with the flip of a coin deciding who would do the last one if there was an odd number on any given day, and only ended with Vittorio’s passing in 2018. Paolo has gone on to direct two more features based on scripts he wrote with his late brother.

Born in San Miniato, Tuscany, the brothers often recount their seminal cinematic experience, watching Roberto Rossellini’s Paisà (1946) – although in some accounts, it’s Germany, Year Zero (1947) – and almost wordlessly deciding, in unison, that filmmaking would be their career. Referring to neorealism as like “a beloved father”, in the sense that it made them who they were, they have, nevertheless, always attempted to transcend it. The Tavianis’ extraordinarily consistent oeuvre mainly comprises films which foreground the peasant experience but often filter it through a strong basis in literature and magic realism. Their use of historical settings to comment on the state of contemporary Italian society and culture gives their work a fabulous quality which prompted Pier-Paolo Pasolini to comment that their optimism was more tragic than his pessimism.

This season features many of the brothers’ key films including their Cannes Palme d’Or-winner, Padre Padrone (1977); the grounded, fantastical and much-loved World War II odyssey, The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982); the overwhelming Pirandello adaptation, Kaos (1984); and their late return to critical acclaim, the Golden Bear-winning Caesar Must Die (2012).

Presented in partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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Films in this program (Wed 28 – Wed 13 March 2024)

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