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Cesare Bedogne

Cesare Bedogne, an Italian filmmaker, writer, and photographer, is one of the highlights of Experimental Brasil 2023. He has created an extremely beautiful and dreamlike work with his experimental documentary Lost Images.


1- How are you? Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little bit about
who you are, where you are from, and what you do?


I am an Italian photographer, film-maker and writer. Originally, I graduated in Mathematics
and worked for a few years as a researcher but after a while photography and writing
became the primary focus of my interest. And then cinematography took the main role. I
worked for the first time in cinema in 2015, when I met the Russian director Aleksandr
Balagura and we decided to make a film together (entitled Story for an Empty Theatre),
based on a novel I had written and on a series of photographs connected with this novel.
After that I worked on my own to the “experimental films” Maria’s Silence, The Last Step of
an Acrobat, Photographing New York and finally Lost Images.

2- Your film Lost Images was selected to enter our festival. Could you tell us a little about


Like all my works it is profoundly personal, more like a visual poem than a narrative. It is
also intensely autobiographical. This film is about a life left behind in a distant land, about
a final departure, memory and loss, love and dead birds, visions and blindness. The stuff
my life was made of, at a certain painful point. It is also partly inspired by a drawing by
Egon Schiele, appearing explicitly in the film, and more generally by the Austrian artist’s
feelings toward eroticism. In his works desire and the naked body are perceived very
darkly, in a perhaps disturbing but also enigmatically poetical manner, never degenerating
into pornography. I attempted to approach eroticism in a similar disposition of the
imagination in the erotic dream scene, or hallucination developing in the “Visions” chapter
of the film.


3- How does your creative process work?

When I was working on a photo-book, many years ago, I wrote a text from which I would
like to quote an excerpt here: “I believe that photography is an adaptation of vision to a
spiritual necessity: the eye forms an image which in its turn, through its inmost
resonances, refocuses the gaze itself, until the strange instant when interior and exterior,
the eye and the things looked at, almost seem to dissolve one in another”. I think that a
similar aesthetic can also be developed through the language of cinematography, where
the main element however becomes time, the most mysterious element of all, a flow rather
than the condensation of life in a timeless instant. Andrej Tarkovsky wrote a lot about this
in his essays and it is very stimulating to compare his point of view on editing with the
conflicting one of Eisenstein… But even more simply I can say that I always try to follow
the urge of an inner need, inscrutably unravelling in time, a mysterious rhythm rather than
conscious thinking: it has been said that my works are often non-linear, associative,


4- Why experimental cinema?

It is very tricky to define experimental cinema. It is generally meant, broadly speaking, as a
disruptive form of cinema breaking traditional narratives and generally accepted visual
conventions and bounds. There are many diverse and controversial theories about it but I
am not particularly interested in an historical approach. I would rather start by quoting John
Cage, when he said that an experimental action is one the outcome of which is not
foreseen. In a parallel way, in my films nothing was ever planned in advance, there isn’t
even the trace of a script. When I started working on each of them, I didn’t know where
they would end nor which visual form they would eventually take through the editing: each
film was a journey in itself, unrepeatable. Only in this specific sense I can accept the word

5- What are your goals within experimental cinema? How far do you want to go?


I’d prefer to talk of free cinema rather than of experimental cinema. What genuinely
matters to me is spiritual necessity, the inner drive which will determine in the end, and
with unconditional precision, a specific film’s language and form.


6- How do you see the present and the future of experimental cinema?

I think it was Luis Buñuel who said that cinema is the art form that comes closer to
dreams. For instance, Un Chien Andalou (1929), one of the masterpieces of avant-garde
and surrealistic cinema, is totally based on a series of interlaced dreams by the director
himself and Salvador Dalì, who co-authored the script. The film was shot very fast with
relatively poor means together with friends and fellow artists in Paris. In principle, digital
technology allows everyone nowadays to work with the same simplicity, purity of mind and
straightforwardness with almost no costs. This is the democratization of the media we had
always dreamt about and it might eventually result into innovative, spontaneous and
uninhibited forms of expression devoid of the sometimes very artificial limitations and
aesthetic conventions imposed on us by the industry. Tarkovsky said once in an interview
(1984) that “cinema is an unhappy art because it depends on money”. Well, this is no
longer the case, or at least not unescapably so. With very basic means, and equipped with
any inexpensive, unsophisticated camera the artist/filmmaker of today can feel almost as
free as a poet with his pen, facing the next white page on his notebook.


7- What is your advice for those who want to make experimental cinema?

Just start shooting and enjoy, avoid thinking too much and don’t become prey of
rationalism, let instead your own longings, forebodings, perturbing nightmares, vague
intuitions and most ardent imaginations take free flight. Then something will inevitably
stand out in the end: your own world, unique and unrepeatable.


8- How do you see the current panorama of world cinema?

Judging from what I see normally at the movies not very well. We are not anymore in the
‘60’s or the 70’s: times have changed. Cinema as an art form is sadly succumbing more
and more to the monetary constraints imposed by industry and society. Creativity is
declining into eccentricity; craftsmanship is reduced to a series of conventional standards;
poetry is contrived by a pile of artifices.
From the other hand, something very promising is dawning in independent cinema,
remarkable works one would hardly ever see in official movie houses keep on being
audaciously produced. I have been the co-founder of a film festival in Italy, where I worked
full time for the first year, and I was pleasantly surprised by many of the films we received
from all over the world, especially the ones submitted in the Innovative Cinema category.
And I obviously expect the same to happen elsewhere, there certainly exist numerous
(perhaps economically poor but not in the least “minor”) festivals screening hidden gems
by brilliant filmmakers we are simply not aware of. This is one of the major problems now,
finding ways alternative to common distribution to make known and cherish these possibly
astounding works, before they slip into general forgetfulness. Obviously, the web might
have an important role in this process, which will eventually liberate cinema as an art form
(also from the point of view of distribution) from financial constraints.

9- What are the strong and weak points in current Italian cinema? And what could be done
to improve it?


I am afraid I cannot sensibly answer this question, I lived most of my adult life abroad and I
am not very familiar with contemporary Italian cinema. Also because, for some inscrutable
reason, I always preferred looking elsewhere. I don’t think however that the problems in
this country differ radically from the ones experiences by other countries.


10- How has the repercussion of your film been?  Has it been worth it?

My films have been generally screened in several film festivals, not necessarily focused on
“experimental cinema” and not necessarily “independent” and they all won several awards
internationally. Although I tend to forget very quickly about all that, I am obviously not
disappointed by these results. Referring specifically to Lost Images, which is going to be
presented soon in Experimental Brazil, it premiered in Italy at the 76 th edition of the
Festival Internazionale del Cinema di Salerno. It won then the Best Editing Award in the
Shanghai Short Film Festival and the Best Experimental Film Award in the Festival de
Largos y Cortos de Santiago del Chile. The work is still relatively recent and several other
festivals will screen it in the upcoming months. But apart from these arid updates, what
really matters is the creative process itself, of course. I feel one must beware of general
appreciation, which might also lead the filmmaker on the wrong path. For instance,
attempting gutlessly and almost involuntarily to reiterate in alternative forms what has been
liked before.


11- Talent, effort or luck? What counts more?

Talent obviously, but “luck” is a intricate issue in itself…In fact, I like your question very
much. You know, improvisation is very important in my work: in a way, I always remained
a photographer who simply looks and instantly reacts to what he sees and perceives. An
eye. But one soon finds out that improvisation has nothing to do with randomness and
many apparently accidental events, at a second thought, might not appear random at all.
The main point, once more, is the inner need enlightening the way. In a state of utter
concentration and absorption into the artistic process one finds out soon enough that the
images he needs for the film are just out there, practically everywhere; in this state of
grace (if you allow me the expression) the very process of vision has changed: interior and
exterior have merged.


12- Who is your favorite filmmaker? Why?

I don’t have any single favorite film-maker, in fact there are many… Mostly the great
European directors of the ‘50’s, the 60’s and the ‘70’s: Antonioni, Bergman, Bresson to
name just a few. And the masters of silent cinema, of course, the early works of Buñuel,
Dreyer, Murnau, the magical dawn of film language.


13- What are your five favorite movies of all time?

This is a one-million-dollar question, as the say in the US, and you should perchance
address it to someone else, more equipped to answer… But I will attempt anyway to give
my own, unassuming answer, which is totally reliant on strictly personal feelings and
recollections… So here you are, my favorite fives (not necessarily in this order) are
probably Persona by Bergman, Mirror by Tarkovsky, 8 and ½ by Fellini, Blow Up by
Antonioni and perhaps Ordet by Dreyer. I deliberately avoided considering the
masterpieces of silent cinema otherwise it would have been simply impossible to answer
your query. Silent cinema had its own language and syntax, in its way unsurpassable and
entirely incomparable to what came afterwards.

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