In these days recurs the first year anniversary of Gabriele Antinolfi’s nomination as director of the Luigi Chiarini Cinema Library, at the Experimental Cinematography Center Foundation in Rome. This comes after a long career at the Foundation where he has been director of the National Cinema School, director of the National Film Library, and director of the Foundation publishing department.

Founded in 1935, the Foundation is the reference point for the world of cinema, and not only Italian cinema. The Foundation operates through the National Cinema School, the National Film Library, publishing, CSC Production, and the library.

“I became the library director in a peculiar moment, a few weeks after the beginning of the pandemic that has upset lives all over the world. Consequently, many activities have been upset and others have been reformulated. Our task is promoting and spreading the culture of Italian cinema in the world so our attention is focusing on virtual exhibitions and on the presentation of Italian books through streaming involving the Italian cultural centers and institutes abroad. Another important part of our work is aimed at cataloguing and digitalizing works so that this enormous heritage may be available to a wide public beyond the people who physically come to the library”.

The library consultation room has 12 stations but on-line access exponentially multiplies the availability of the approximately 155,000 bibliographic units whose topic is cinema presented from different perspectives: history, critique, language, technique, but also photography, art, culture, sociology, scenography just to name a few. But there are also approximately 2800 trade magazines and newspapers, from American Cinematography to Variety, a collection of press cuttings, more than 22,000 screenplays, many of which already digitized, as well as illustrated musical scores taken from movies, press books and press releases, brochures, sketches, and graduation thesis. The material is catalogued using specific tags which makes finding requested information much easier. We have a team of library science experts who is working so that the catalogue makes it easy for users to access the precious material that can be examined through the SebinaYou, the online catalogue which is available on the Foundation website”.

The library has been enriched not only through the deposits required by the law of screenplays, film scripts, and treatments but also thanks to donations of book and documentary holdings and collections by institutes like Cinecittà and the Solinas Prize and by private individuals like Giuseppe De Santis, Roberto Rossellini, Luciano Salce, Massimo Franciosa, Alida Valli, Carlo Lizzani, and Franco Cristaldi just to name a few.

“These holdings constitute precious documentation so much so that, for example, the Salce holding has been declared of historical interest by the Latium Archival and Bibliographical Superintendency. Made up of diversified contents thanks to Salce’s versatility, this holding documents the period between 1935 and 1987 and it has been donated to the library by his son, Emanuele Timothy Salce, in 2019. The Roberto Rossellini collection is of extreme value to study his theoretical thoughts and his correspondence is by itself a panoramic view of the 20th century with letters autographed by persons like Jean Cocteau, Marlene Dietrich, Frank Capra, Jean Renoir, and Vittorio Gassman”.

It suffices to visit the library website to explore the many paths it offers and which are easily accessible. The Silent Movie portal presents documents of the time but also video dating back to the 19th century, like the amusing Burla al marito (Joke for the husband) and Fregoli Barbiere (Fregoli the Barber), and spectacular photographic portraits. Among the exhibitions, I appreciated the exhibition of musical scores from the Luciano Michetti Ricci and the Adriana Berselli holdings. As soon as I opened the page, I found the score of Parlami d’amore Mariù (Talk to me about love Mariù) from the movie Gli Uomini che mascalzoni, and I had the recollection of my afternoons as a child when an old aunt of mine played this song at the piano and sang “Parlami d’amore Mariù, tutta la mia vita sei tu” (Talk to me about love Mariù, you are all my life)…My aunt’s name was Mariù, she had never married, so maybe that song had some hidden meaning for her. The exhibition on Fashion and Costumes has an abundant documentation and particularly fascinating is the collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and other nations costumes, a book with 18th century engravings by Giovan Battista Romero.

The library also has an editorial activity and publishes the Quaderni (Notebooks), technical volumes aiming at enhancing and provide adequate visibility to specific collections. Thanks to the Bibliochiarini App, the catalogue is accessible via smartphones and tablets.