Among the special guests of this thirteenth edition of the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival there was also Bruno Bozzetto, one of the masters of Italian animation. Considered one of the most influential animators on the national and international scene, Bozzetto has created over three hundred works, including feature films, shorts, series and commercials, which have earned him more than one hundred and thirty awards. It was Davide Giurlando, an expert in animation cinema and professor of the Master in Fine Arts in Filmmaking at Ca’ Foscari, who presented him on stage and led the interview.
During the interview, the long and rich career of the author was retraced; he spoke about himself without filters and with much irony. After various attempts, in 1958, he made his first short film, Tapum! Storia delle armi , presented at the Cannes Film Festival. Since then, he has been the author of a series of works that have rightfully become masterpieces of Italian animation and beyond, such as Allegro non troppo, Un Oscar per il Signor Rossi, West and Soda, Una vita in scatola, Vip – Mio fratello superuomo to continue with Allegro non troppo, Cavallette and many other works.
The encounter began by recalling his beginnings and main influences, like the one of Disney and, in particular, Ward Kimball’s Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, which he explains was his primary source of inspiration for the creation of Tapum! Storia delle armi: “It was love at first sight because I understood that he was dealing with interesting themes with a type of drawing that I, too, knew how to do.” From this first work, it emerges how the focus on which Bozzetto often places his gaze – always in an ironic and surreal way – is that of man and the absurdity of his condition, which sometimes comes to dehumanize him.
His La vita in scatola was also screened, as planned. Before this projection, the author ironically explained how much the genesis of this work is bound to the traumatic moving from Bergamo to Milan that he made when he was young. Here, he suddenly lost both his friends and landmarks in favour of a different and greener world. Later on, he talked about his first achievements and the popularity he received with Signor Rossi’s character, which is a humorous representation of the Italian average man, widely well-known and loved from many generations. His idea for this character was born when Bozzetto was rejected by a local festival in Bergamo for his La storia delle invenzioni, so to narrate and laugh at the event. By doing so, the animator gives life, maybe also unconsciously, to what from the second half of ‘900 will become the cornerstone of the Italian small screen. The Signor Rossi is also in Carosello, one of the most iconic Italian tv programs that had a notable role both for the character’s success itself but also for Bozzetto’s career. In fact, this let him to transform his passion into work and to open his proper animation studio.
It’s impossible not to mention his masterpiece West and Soda, whose creation process took two years, a work based on his passion for western movies that at the time looked like modern fairytales. His feature film is the result of the animator and his team’s idea to “create something with which we can freely express ourselves and have fun”. The other great work that was analyzed during the talk was Allegro non troppo, a long feature film inspired by Disney’s Fantasia that uses mixed techniques, being part film and part animation. Bozzetto guided the audience into the feature’s creation process, explaining the challenges given by the technology – that was not very advanced at the time – and the hardship in synchronizing animation with sound. One of his most famous short films Cavallette was then screened, a movie that received an Oscar nomination in 1991: “the short film draws inspiration from war and tackles a theme that is very close to me. I’m convinced that mankind will eventually disappear, but nature always comes back”. Animation becomes once again the means to convey important, universal and timeless messages. Clear is the importance of music, that gives expression and emotion to figures and drawings, becoming an essential means to create a common thread.
Closing the talk there was the screening of Europa & Italia, another successful short film that with great irony explains the differences in the behavior of Italians and the other European populations: “I am interested in talking about people, about everyday life, human behavior rather than current events, in order to make an ethical discourse, one that deals with the relationship with nature. These are all very fascinating topics to me, today more than ever”. Finally, the Short greeted Bozzetto with a surprise: a videocall with the great Japanese – though Italian by adoption – animator Fusako Yusaki, who greeted his great friend and colleague, with whom she shared years of experience, such as the Carosello commercials.