Guest contributor and artist Rosemary Mangiamele reflects on the revival of the films of her late husband, Giorgio Mangiamele, at the 60th edition of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) in 2011.
Long ago, Giorgio Mangiamele’s films seemed to be forgotten. Now that a selection of my late husband’s work is available on DVD, these films are available to new audiences. Every time someone watches the DVDs, it will provide further validation that all the struggles Giorgio went through in his career were worth something. Hopefully this box set will provoke much thought and discussion for decades to come.
The DVD box set was recently launched as part of the 60th Melbourne International Film Festival in 2011. It was an amazing and eventful weekend.
I arrived at ACMI an hour before the start of the launch of Giorgio’s DVD box set to discuss the proceedings, and immediately I seemed to be saying hello to someone for a moment, then being whisked off to meet someone else before I finished the sentence, or to have a photo taken!
The audience gradually gathered and conversations became louder and louder. I was feeling quite nervous, anxious and vulnerable, mainly because the panel – Gino Moliterno (Australian National University), Gerardo Papalia (Italian Historical Society), Andrew Pike (Ronin Films) and myself – did not have the opportunity to meet before the start of the event.
We sat at the long table facing the large audience, each with a microphone in front of us, and spoke about the various aspects of Giorgio’s story, from the making of the films to their restoration and the development of the DVD package. Judging by the large number of people in attendance and their reaction, I believe they thoroughly enjoyed the presentations.
Following the DVD launch there was a MIFF screening of The Spag (1962) and Ninety Nine Per Cent (1963). Some members of the audience did not realise they needed a ticket to enter the cinema, so there were many disappointed members of the public who could not get in because the session was sold out. It was somewhat amusing when even I was not allowed into the cinema either, because I did not have a ticket!
The screening was followed by a Q&A session with two of the actors, Terry Donovan and Chris Tsalikis, as well as Gino Moliterno and myself. Both Terry and Chris reflected on some of their experiences when they worked with Giorgio. Terry admitted that even though The Spag was his first film, he had never seen it before this occasion! Unfortunately, the session was cut short because the cinema had to be emptied for the next festival screening.
There was another Q&A session after Clay (1965) was screened on Sunday afternoon, including actors George Dixon, Lola Russell and Chris Tsalikis, plus Giorgio’s daughter Claudia, Gino Moliterno and myself.
A member of the audience commented that he loved witnessing the reactions of George Dixon and Lola Russell, because it seemed to reaffirm for them that something they had been involved in long ago, and perhaps had only fading memories of, was in fact rather good and, in the minds of others, somewhat important.
Ron Pinnell, an actor who was in Sebastian The Fox (1963), said he enjoyed the session immensely, and he was really enthusiastic about Clay. Another person commented that, 'I absolutely love Clay as an artwork, and I really like the look and style of it, and consider it is a landmark in Australia’s filmmaking history. However, I can see why the audiences in the cultural backwater that was mid-1960s Melbourne didn’t quite get it.'
As well as the enthusiastic response from the Melbourne audience, the validation of Giorgio’s work has slowly evolved over the years through the work of people such as Andrew Pike, Massimiliano Civili, Gino Moliterno, Gaetano Rando, Raffaele Lampugnani, Graeme Cutts, Quentin Turnour, Graham Shirley, Scott Murray, Ettore Siracusa and Silvana Tuccio.
The three events over the weekend were a resounding success, and I can’t think of a better and more fitting tribute to Giorgio.
My sincere thanks go to Andrew Pike, Gino Moliterno and the NFSA’s Head of Access, Research and Development, David Boden, who had the vision and ensured that the project came to fruition, along with the assistance and expertise of many NFSA staff who worked on the project.
Thank you to everyone involved, I am very grateful for this wonderful tribute to Giorgio.
The Giorgio Mangiamele collection is available from Ronin Films as a DVD box set or to watch on demand.
Read more about Giorgio Mangiamele on australianscreen online.
Main image: Giorgio Mangiamele in Port Moresby shooting for the South Pacific Festival of the Arts, 1980. NFSA title: 530193