|What:||The Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago present a screening of Visioni di case che crollano (Crumbling Houses) with author and video artist Gianni Celati, Fulbright Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.
Narrated by the distinguished writer and critic John Berger, "Visioni di case che crollano" is a film about crumbling houses in the Po river valley and the apparently deserted landscape, almost devoid of human presence. Against this background, characters tell the story of their bond to these lands. The video is shaped around various parts: a visit to a series of crumbling houses in the countryside; interviews with participants on a train ride through the same countryside; the presence of John Berger who travels with the others and explains the problem of ruins in our contemporary world; three Senegalese on a bicycle trip through the countryside, who visit other African immigrants living in some of the crumbling houses; and, lastly, a monologue, prepared during visits to the old houses, by an actress in a provincial theater about the fall of peasant culture and the abandonment of old houses. (60 minutes, in Italian with English subtitles)
There is a strict line of division between those people who are used to living among ruins and in poverty, and who take the external world as it is, and those people who are rich and who tend to wish a total restoration of the visible world that brings it closer to an advertising image for the West is more and more dominated by a fanaticism for the new, by a desire to wipe out the traces of time. (G. Celati)
Gianni Celati is a prize-winning Italian author of novels, short stories, and essays, a translator of French and English authors, a video artist, and this spring's Fulbright Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago. His most recent literary works include Narratori delle pianure  Translated by R. Lumley as Voices from the Plains and Avventure in Africa  Translated by A. Bernardi as Adventures in Africa. He is also the director of the videos "Strada provinciale delle anime" [Provincial Road of Souls](1991) and "Il Mondo di Luigi Ghirri" [The World of Luigi Ghirri] (1999).
Gianni Celati will be introduced by Professor Rebecca West, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and the Committee on Cinema and Media Studies at The University of Chicago, who is the author of the book, Gianni Celati: The Craft of Everyday Storytelling (University of Toronto Press, 2000).