The 2020 Festival

Five strands, 29 screenings, something for everyone


Our programme is presented across four thematic strands:

And to these, we add a fifth – Rediscovered & Tracked-down – a mixed bag of forgotten gems and the crowd-pleasingly familiar. Sadly, time doesn’t allow us to include the much anticipated Shoestring serial – a casualty of our single auditorium setup. All five confirmed strands are described below, with links to the cornucopia of films they feature.

A Journey Through (an evening class about) French Cinema

In 2017 I took up an excellent evening class, led by Jon Davies of Morley College: A History of French Cinema in 10 Easy Lessons. As a bonus, the classes were held at the delightful Cinema Museum in London.

I wanted to find out why, when I saw films from around the world, was the hit rate for the French films so high? I think I found out: state subsidy and a linked national respect for the medium.

But I discovered so much more – and from the movies Jon used to illustrate his themes from across the decades, I have I selected a small subset of the riches to which we were introduced.

See all the films in this strand.

Three Good Scenes, No Bad Ones: The Films of Howard Hawks

“I’m a storyteller – that’s the chief function of a director. And they’re moving pictures, let’s make ’em move!” – Howard Hawks

Between 1926 and 1970 Howard Winchester Hawks (1896-1977) made 41 features films at every major film studio in Hollywood. During this period, he directed seminal and significant films in practically every genre, many of which of endured as canonical classics.

My strand covers Hawks’s output over a 31-year period, beginning with The Criminal Code (1931) and concluding with Hatari! (1962). Along the way we’ll see him turn his hand to action, comedy, the war film and the musical, all with his trademark wit, flare and impeccable attention to detail.

“Hawks makes Westerns and war movies, comedies and dramas, backstage romances and melodramas, and he has been doing it since 1926. There is, in fact, almost no kind of movie that Mr. Hawks can not make, and has not made, and there is almost nobody at all who can make them better than he does.” – Roger Ebert

See all the films in this strand.

Blood, Sweat and Tea: Aftermath of the Raj

When I think back to my favourite Bologna experiences, high on the list is my chanced-upon viewing of Do Bigha Zamin, Bimal Roy’s vibrant but tragic story of a poor farmer’s struggle in the face of capitalist oppression – part of a strand that sadly by that stage of the festival I had mostly missed. If I could only re-prioritise what I watched that year – well, here is my opportunity! 

Having just completed a re-reading of Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet, the end of British colonial rule was fresh in my mind when deciding my Sostituto programme. While I’ve included British and even Hollywood perspectives on the British withdrawal from India, many of the films are drawn from India’s social realist movement, reflecting the upheaval of partition and challenges of post-independence India. These are films I really want to see – and hopefully you will too!

See all the films in this strand.

Experiments in Living

A wide-ranging set of documentaries – some features, some shorts, all evocative – depicting activism and countercultural movements.

Each features a community reaching for something new, something at odds with and better than the status quo: from the reactive rage of protesters taking to the streets, via the loudly defiant style of NYC vogueing and LA punk, to the quieter idealism of commune life.

See all the films in this strand.