SÌ, PERÒ… (Italia, 2000, 2’36”)
NUOVA IDENTITÀ (Italia, 2003, 4’12”)
ECCO, È ORA (Italia, 2004, 3’30”)
I MIRACOLI DI SAN LAZLO – PARTE I (Italia, 2010,1’58”)
VIA CURIEL 8 (Italia, 2011, 8’36”) di Mara Cerri e Magda Guidi
SAN LASZLO CONTRO SANTA MARIA EGIZIACA (Italia, 2014, 2’44”)
GUARDAMI O NON GUARDARMI (Italia, 2014, 1’36”)
DALILA (Italia, 2015, 5’24”)
LA CURVA DEL BAMBINO (Italia, 2016, 1’25”)
SOGNI AL CAMPO (Italia, 2020, 10’11”) di Mara Cerri e Magda Guidi
DIECI STORIE VERE (Italia, 2021, 0’36”)
Meeting with the autor by Pierpaolo Loffreda.
The Cinema of Magda Guidi
Auteur animation film in Italy surely is a world apart, and an almost clandestine one: the film-makers barely manage to show their works to an audience, outside of film festivals. Therefore, people in this milieu tend to feel like members of the Carbonari society, devoted to the cause… Magda Guidi is an all-round animation film-maker, and one of the most outstanding in the current scene, not only in Italy. She is also a recognized painter. In her approach to this medium, she privileges a joyful and irreverent irony toward the ‘sacred truths’, i.e., the commonplaces derived from current habit and dogmatism. Her Madonnas and Child, her Crucifixes, her conceited and pompous Popes and Bishops refer the viewer to a free, easy-going, surely iconoclastic imaginary, but also a distracted, graceful, and ineffable one, including a Baroque plentiful aesthetic loaded and overlapping with meanings and symbols.
This can also be found in her two punk-religious films, I miracoli di San Laszlo – parte I and San Laszlo contro Santa Maria egiziaca. Instead, the poetic inspiration of Guidi’s film stems from a research that is both ecstatic and mindful of mystery as well as of whatever moves in an inscrutable moment of everyone’s existence (which few people dwell on), i.e., the passage from childhood to adolescence, with its load of secrets, uncertainties, fears, and wonder. Her first two films (while Nuova identità is a successful music video for the band Tre Allegri Ragazzi Morti) Sì, però… and Ecco, è ora are two great examples of compositional synthesis departing from the same idea: the formulation of an almost imperceptible instant that determines a turning point of the events. Sì, però… represents this at a distance, while Ecco, è ora does it up close, with a boy and a girl crossing the above-mentioned threshold of age and condition with a single glance.
The miracle of the secret/fleeting encounter is reiterated with a wider narrative and symbolic density in Via Curiel 8, co-directed with Mara Cerri. Departing from a haphazard encounter, two stages of the characters’ parallel lives come in contact and therefore are compared: youth and childhood. Scanning a vertical slit of light, a very intimate, secret space-time opening appears, conveying the subtle and silent magic of being alive. A significant glimpse that, as usual, with the daily routine, fades away. Guardami o non guardarmi represents the delicate uncertainty frozen for a moment – or forever – who do we actually love when we get close to someone? It is the absolute unspoken, that which we cannot reveal even to ourselves – because we don’t know, and anyway it wouldn’t leave us indifferent – that is expressed here simply, teetering, as we do when we live. Like a long-retained flash of inspiration, the magnificent film Dalila encapsulates the coming of age, Guidi’s constant focus, by way of a young woman who remembers a moment in her advanced childhood, so to say, in which the relationship with the others and with reality becomes more complex and more ambiguous, and when the will that drives choices begins to be apparent to us. An airy drawing style, in black and white, with the pencil line going through the blinding blaze of the memory, while music is being composed.
The gazes look intensely, faltering, with the eyes wide open. The subject is followed up in the shorter and more troubled La curva del bambino, where nagging thoughts-insects crack the relationship between the represented figure (a boy with a cast on his arm and his eyes shut) and the world. Also co-directed with Mara Cerri, Sogni al campo expands upon the narrative, which departs from the sight from a distance of the Ducal Palace in Urbino and then becomes lost in the surrounding countryside. A boy walking along a path, his breathing, and the – again symbolic – hole that allows light into a shed filled with beloved objects, the toys, while in the future it will be with memories. One grows up only thanks to a sudden fire, a demon that claws at us, opening up the road for a new unfathomable mystery: the one that surrounds the elderly, like gloomy ghosts, and the excavated dirt. So, the teardrops become a river, in which memories fade, and the now grown-up boy walks in fields of ripe corn. There are many poetic suggestions here – biting, not consolatory ones – as in the other films of Magda Guidi, whose style refers to the language of comics enriched by movements combined with rigour and imagination as well as by a notable presence of expressive sound.
Based in Pesaro, Magda Guidi studied at the Urbino Istituto Statale d’Arte and began to draw cartoons in 2000. In 2004, she won the first prize at Festival Castelli Animati near Rome with Ecco, è ora. She made the music video for Tre Allegri Ragazzi Morti Nuova identità. 2008 through 2010 she collaborated with Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio drawing the animated sequences for the show L’ultima volta che vidi mio padre. Along with Mara Cerri, in 2011 she made the animated short Via Curiel 8, winning the first prize at the Torino Film Festival. From then onwards, prestigious prizes and collaborations have followed one another and her works have been exhibited in several art galleries in Italy and abroad.
She is considered one of the most outstanding representatives of contemporary Italian animation film. Her works have screened at the most important European festivals, at the Paris Forum des Images, in the United States, and south-east Asia. Her films are published in three volumes of the DVD boxset Animazioni - Contemporary Italian short films, edited by Andrea Martignoni and Paola Bristot. In 2014, the Pesaro Film Festival dedicated a retrospective to Magda Guidi, who also designed the festival’s poster for that year.
She is honorary president of Alma, the association of animators based in the Marche region.
Sì, però…, 2000
Nuova identità (videoclip per Tre Allegri Ragazzi Morti), 2003
Ecco, è ora, 2004
I miracoli di San Laszlo parte I, 2010
Via Curiel 8 (con Mara Cerri), 2011
San Laszlo contro Santa Maria egiziaca, 2014
Guardami o non guardarmi, 2014
La curva del bambino, 2016
Scavami dentro (videoclip per Danio Manfredini), 2016
Sogni al campo (con Mara Cerri), 2020
Dieci storie vere, 2021
-2005 “Il nano più alto del mondo”. Regia di Francesco Amato. animazioni di Magda Guidi. -2009/2010 “L’ultima volta che vidi mio padre”. Dramma musicale animato. Regia e drammaturgia di Chiara Guidi (Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio), animazioni di Magda Guidi, Sergio Gutierrez, Andrea Petrucci. -2011 Sigla per NodoDoc,International Documentary Film Festival, Trieste. (Mara Cerri e Magda Guidi) -2012 “Tonda’s wonderland”. Spot pubblicitario per IFI S.p.A. Regia e disegni Magda Guidi. -2013 “ANAGRAMMA”. Performance live, Stefano Sasso, Mara Cerri e Magda Guidi, a cura Camilla Falcioni, Setup, Fiera d’Arte contemporanea indipendente di Bologna -2013 Video istituzionale per la Fondazione Hospice Seràgnoli (Mara Cerri e Magda Guidi) -2014 “Re-Cycling” project. Un film animato di 10 minuti, realizzato direttamente su pellicola 35mm da 10 autori diversi, che firmano la regia di 1 minuto ciascuno. -2020 “W. – Was von der Lüge bleibt”, Film documentario di Rolando Colla, produzione Peacock Film, disegni di Thomas Ott, animazioni di Mara Cerri, Magda Guidi, Virginia Mori
Interview with Magda Guidi
By Pierpaolo Loffreda
How did your career as an animation auteur begin? Did school, and your teachers, play a role in your education?
I was first acquainted with auteur animation at the Scuola del Libro di Urbino, which I attended 1993 through 2000, the year when I obtained my Master. I was just a girl who wanted to draw cartoons and knew nothing of animation. An unknown and wonderful world opened up before my eyes. My early experiments with animation were successful. I would try to visualize a movement in my mind and reproduce it on paper, and I had fun. While I grew up, I began to love cinema more and more. I would watch films as much as I could, and my friends would share this passion with me.
The Scuola di Urbino played a decisive role, along with my masters: Stefano Franceschetti, Cristiano Carloni, and Anna Pagnini. I was lucky to be their disciple.
Before the 1997 earthquake, animated cartoon classrooms were located at the upper floor of the Ducal Palace – if you think about it now, it seems unbelievable. We would look out of the windows of the life drawing classroom and would find ourselves close to the turrets, while in the background you would see the same landscapes as Raffaello and Piero della Francesca did. When you’re seventeen you may not notice, but sooner or later you will have to cope with all this beauty.
Which have been your points of reference in painting, and in film, from the beginning until now?
I have many, many points of reference in painting, but Giotto is the one that still overwhelms me. As far as cinema is concerned, the key film was Wings of Desire, that I watched along with Mara (Cerri) towards the end of our teenage years. Something must have happened then: it’s as if I suddenly understood what you can do with film, what it manages to tell.
From then on, I saw everything with different eyes, and watching films became one of my favourite activities, as I mentioned. I would write down all the films I saw in a big diary, lest I forget them. I still do. The film directors who impressed me most and left a mark, in some way, are Pasolini, Bergman, Tarkovsky, and Fassbinder.
Regarding animation film I could mention dozens of masterpieces, but above all Yuri Norstein’s Hedgehog in the Fog (Ёжик в тумане, 1975) and Tale of Tales (Сказка сказок, 1979).
In my opinion, irony and forms of sacrilegious parody play a strange role in your film production: a sort of parallel universe, something I like very much. Can you talk about this?
When I was a girl, I had a tragic relationship with religion and especially superstition. Several events affected my life negatively, and I wasn’t old enough to understand the origin of some anxieties of mine, not to mention fight them. Growing up, I finally managed to process all that had happened to me and therefore to get rid of those unhealthy burdens. In the end I came up with the character of Saint Laszlo, a sort of street acrobat surrounded by fools who self-celebrated as a Saint, or even Pope. He is the main character of a sort of punk-religious mini saga that aspires to make fun of the whole God-centric caravan and its contradictions.
Your narrative universe is positioned between childhood and adolescence – and especially the intermediate period between these two crucial phases of life. What draws you to this moment of existence, and how can the language of images represent it? You mentioned Fanny & Alexander to this purpose.
It is totally true. Instinctively, every story I come up with have very young boys and girls as main characters, or children on the verge of adolescence. I have pondered a lot about why. Possibly, because there is – and will continue to be – an unresolved crux, an undecipherable mystery. As if at that very moment we were allowed to glimpse something. Afterwards, we forget what we saw, but not that we saw. And so, I feel the urge to go back there, again and again, to try again and watch through that crack.
Can you describe how your collaboration with Mara Cerri began and still goes on? It is both unusual and interesting that two film-makers share a long leg of their career.
We met in Urbino in twelfth grade and we became close friends quickly. Our friendship is at the basis of everything. Our collaboration is based on it, and on the unconditional trust we feel for each other. Then of course we also love and are drawn to the same things, we share the same sensibility and imaginary. Working together on the same project is very natural, effortless, for us. We would chat holding a beer and the ideas multiply, in a dialogue with the other. We are aware that it is an unusual condition but luckily for us it turned out this way.
Teaching (at the ISIA Urbino) was a new important step for you. You’re shaping new talents, who often prove to be very interesting. Would you like to describe how you work in this field?
With the pupils, I try to be as honest as I can. I didn’t train as a teacher; I can’t be what I am not. I relate to them as an author who addresses other, very young, authors. I try to acquaint them with a certain kind of cinema, which they may have never seen, and to provide them with a key to understanding. I would like to see the desire of telling their stories using this language, an endless, wonderful one, being born in them. The rest is up to them. They are already well prepared, fast-learners, and have great energy. Both Mara and I, even though the course is a short one, and their works too, saw little animated jewels taking shape.
What perspectives do you think there are (or there should be, in which ways) for auteur animation film in Italy today? And for a budding film-maker? What is your advice?
There are no fast-tracks. Every film-maker should manage to find their own, remaining faithful to themselves and their work. There is the Festival circuit, but it’s not enough. Despite this reality is often neglected or underestimated, by the general public but also the institutions, year after year auteur animation film is still begetting new talents, many of whom are trained precisely in Urbino. Then there is a very strong identity, in which many, however different, authors recognize themselves.
In light of this, about a year ago Alma was founded, an association that gathers cartoonists and animators who live or were trained in the Marche region. Its purpose, among many others, is to promote the work of these many authors, some of them of international renown. This was a first step, for a reality that is bound to grow.
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