COLA Connections Newsletter: December 2015

SEE-Cily Series Brings Film Director to Campus

Dr. Elisabetta D'Amanda is a senior Lecturer of Italian and the coordinator of Italian Language Program in the College of Liberal Arts. For her ongoing SEE-Cily series, which seeks to connect RIT students with contemporary southern Italian cinema, Dr. D’Amanda worked to bring over Italian director Giovanna Taviani for a screening of her film “Ritorni.” We sat down with her to talk about the future of SEE-Cily, “Ritorni” and Italy’s past and future.

Why did you choose to focus on Sicily and the southern Italian region for the SEE-Cily series?

Basically, the series was born out of two main interests: On one hand, my scholarly work focuses on Mediterranean culture and studies and the current state of events. On the other, Sicily is the center of the Mediterranean region; the crossroad of every civilization that’s lived in the area. It’s been an unbelievable cradle of culture and language. It’s been a very important backdrop and creator of culture and societies, and I want to help bring that to RIT.

Can you describe how the visit to see Giovanna Taviani’s film "Ritorni" came to be?

I did my dissertation on Italian cinema that focuses on the southern portion of Italy. I’ve been fortunate through my studies over the years to meet many of these directors, and I met Taviani in 2007. We stayed in touch, and this summer we worked together again. Over the past year we’ve been working on several different things, including bringing more and more opportunities to bring contemporary Italian film culture to Rochester straight from Italy.

What do you hope those who attended the screening learned?

It was mainly what the students took away that was important to me. The week we viewed the film was the week of the terrorist attacks in Paris, so we had just gotten off two weeks of very intense dialogue about the nature of terrorism and Mediterranean culture. Giovanna helped lead a discussion on where we’ve come since the 9/11 attacks and where we can go from here. I just hope that the students who saw the film and talked with Giovanna felt a strong sense of universality; how we’re all living in the same global scenario. The fact that we were able to create a venue for the conversations on immigration and racial tension we had is very important to me.

Are there any other Italian films/directors that you’d like to bring to campus?

Yes! I can’t really think of specifics, but in the future I would love to bring more female artists and directors to RIT. Film is historically very male-slanted, and I think it’s very important to give more representation to women in general.

What plans do you have for the SEE-Cily program in the future?

In the future I’d love to engage even more people. We don’t really have the university outreach that we need to create the impact we want, but I’m hoping we can achieve that to get even more people involved. I’m also establishing a collaboration with the George Eastman house, where we’re going to present Italian cinema. I’m very excited about it.