What makes cinema is not money and marketing, but ideas. There’s no doubt about it for Mark Cousins, the Northern Irish director and critic, author of acclaimed documentaries and essays that have rewritten the history of cinema. This idea lies at the basis of the video that was made to promote the EnDOW Community project on the “rescue” of orphan works for movies. The promotional short film was made by Bartolomeo Meletti, director of Worth Knowing Production, who worked closely with Cousins. “It all started because Annabelle Shaw of the BFI, partner of the EnDOW Community project, contacted Mark Cousins, telling him about the project and asking him if he wanted to collaborate in some way – says Meletti –. He agreed to lend his voice and review the script. So I made a draft of the script inspired by his way of writing and speaking, then Cousins revised it and made some changes that improved it. He recorded it at his home in a three minute file, on which the video was built”.
To make it, Bartolomeo Meletti revised “The Story of Film: An Odyssey”, Cousins’ documentary that retraces the history of cinema from an unusual point of view, taking into account directors and movements from different countries around the world. “I watched it looking for suggestions and although it is a fifteen-hour film I found in the first minutes the cues that have become the guidelines for the video – explains Meletti – . The first is the conviction that it is not money that drives cinema forward, but ideas. I believe that this is the general theme of this documentary”.
If visual ideas are at the basis of the development of cinema, however, it is clear that it should be possible to share them. “They must be seen to encourage innovation. This also applies, of course, in the case of orphan works. There are hundreds of thousands of films in archives all over the world, that might contain beautiful visual ideas, but no one can see them because of copyright restrictions,” insists the director. Building on this initial suggestion, Meletti added the image of bubbles, that feature in Cousins’ documentary and is recurrent in many films, from “Reed” to artworks made by Godard and Scorsese. “The idea of bubbles won me over because two important concepts are concentrated in one image. On one hand the concept that ideas should be seen to inspire and innovate. On the other the understanding of the fragility of films, that is a main problem with orphan works, which risk of disappearing from collective imaginary”. Finally, in the video for EnDOW Community, Meletti wanted to include the scene of the “Great Dictator”, because according to Cousins “No one else in the story of film combines entertainment, ideas, movement, improvisation and poetics like Charlie Chaplin”.
Three key points linked to each other to build a promotional video that captures the essence of the EnDOW Community project: freeing orphan works from dusty archives in order to protect them and make them available to the public. In the hope that someone will take cues and ideas to develop the Seventh Art, with the grace and poetic inspiration of Charlot.