The season starts from the 5 September and runs till 11 September 2014 at the ICA, and aims to bring renewed attention to a thought-provoking and versatile filmmaker through a series rarely seen key works. With the ICA only a short walk from Jermyn Street, it’s definitely worth popping down to watch one of Elio Petri’s films. These striking production stills of leading actor Gian Maria Volonté above and Elio Petri below, really do highlight how much of a dapper gentleman he and his cast were.
Four films will be shown as part of this season, starting with the Oscar winning Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970). The programme will also feature the much imitated sci-fi movie The 10th Victim (1965), the claustrophobic thriller A ciascuno il suo (We Still Kill the Old Way) (1967) and the unsettling psychological drama A Quiet Place in the Country (1968).
[Production still of Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion 1970]
Uncomfortably individualistic, impeccably stylish and irreverent interpretations of Italian reality, Petri’s films contributed to the period’s political and intellectual debate. Controversial, complex and visually arresting, his films were driven by observations on society and power, exploring social issues still relevant to ay, such as organised crime, the relationship between authorities and citizens, the role of the artist in society and working class rights and consumerism. Despite these contemporary concerns, Petri and his work remain difficult to classify.
[Production still of The Tenth Victim (1965)]
Each of his films are unique, both in their concept and execution, something which disconcerted critics and cinema experts alike at the time of their release. Since his films always contain an element of social observation, he was branded a ‘political’ director and this definition has perhaps made him appear a difficult, heavy filmmaker and obscured the tragicomic and irreverent elements often included in his films.
[Production still of Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970). Elio Petri with an assistant]
There is no doubt that Petri belongs alongside the great masters such as Fellini, Visconti, Pasolini and Bertolucci in the pantheon of Italian directors.
If one fancies embracing the spirit of Italy further, try visiting Italian outfitter Boggi Milano on Jermyn Street to get kitted out in some stylish garb, or dine at one of the many notable Italian restaurants on Jermyn Street such as Francos or Getti.
The ICA and Elio Petri exhibition ‘The Forgotten Genius’
11 September 2014
Institute of Contemporary Arts (The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH)