Cinema of Italy: Cinecittà & monopoly (1937-1939)

During this time the fascist party created the "Ministero della Cultura Popolare" (known as Min.Cul.Pop.) which, after a catastrophic fire in 1935 in the old cinema studios of Cines (this fire is still surrounded by mystery and still puzzles historians and scholars) suggested the creation of a more important structure to re-launch the cinema of Italy, otherwise destined to languish.

Mussolini approved the project and an area South-East of Rome was selected and after two years of building, on April 21st 1937, he participated at the inauguration of Cinecittà, with a new slogan “Cinematography is the strongest weapon”.

Cinecittà was conceived like Hollywood, with everything a film maker could desire to make movies: sound stages, technical services, and the famous “Center for Experimental Cinematography”, who became a real cradle of famous masters, along with the adjacent Cineteca Nazionale.

Two years later, January 1st 1939, a new law called Monopoly was created, a law that almost blocked the import of foreign movies (especially from USA, seen as smoke in the eyes) favoring a more ample production of Italian movies. Two major genre are then developed, the comedies of the “white telephones” and the more intellectual “calligrafismo”.

Cinecittà provided everything necessary for filmmaking: theaters, technical services, and even a cinematography school, the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, for younger apprentices. The Cinecittà studios were Europe’s most advanced production facilities, and greatly boosted the technical quality of Italian films. Many films are still shot entirely in Cinecittà.

During this period, Mussolini’s son, Vittorio, created a national production company and organized the work of noted authors, directors and actors (including even some political opponents), thereby creating an interesting communication network among them, which produced several noted friendships and stimulated cultural interaction.

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