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Pina Bausch in Rome - A documentary film by Graziano Graziani

Umanism LLC

Coming Soon in NYC (March 2018)


The movie follows the experience of Pina Bausch in the eternal city to which she dedicated two unforgettable shows, Viktor (1986) and O Dido (1999). Through an interwoven series of treasured interviews -  spanning from Matteo Garrone to Mario Martone, from Vladimir Luxuria to Ninni Romeo, from Leonetta Bentivoglio to Andrés Neumann, from Maurizio Millenotti to Claudia Di Giacomo culminating with the gypsy family Firlović - a portray of the surprising city of Rome emerges as interpreted by Pina Bausch, a city both authentic and anti-conventional: a Rome that is quotidian, scanned by lunches in trattorias, filled with incursions to traditional ballrooms and walks to the city farmers’ market; and a Rome that is underground, spread out to its multiethnic city limits, explored by many visits to the gypsy camps and nocturnal excursions to transgender clubs and the LGBTQ cultural circle.

Director’s Note
Pina Bausch has had a special relationship with Rome which was the first city to host the co-production of Tanztheater - at the end of the Eighties - which introduced the process that the choreographer would have used hereafter many times around the world, inaugurating the production series that was renamed “travel choreography”. She would have returned in Rome for yet another co-production with the Theatre of Rome between 1999 and 2000, right as its artistic direction moved from Luca Ronconi to Mario Martone. For this reason, when they asked me to tell the story of the relationship between Pina and Rome, I accepted with enthusiasm but also with some strong doubts. Pina Bausch is one the sacred monsters of the artistic 900 whose influence goes beyond theatre and contemporary dance, which I work with. She is a figure that has already been narrated extensively on video, but, paradoxically, the material of this segment of her career, which was the subject of my work, has been missing  from her documented life. Where to start from then? As usual, trying to find a story to tell.

The first step was hearing from all the people that were working by her side during Pina’s first Roman residency. At the beginning, with Riccione Theatre producing the project, we didn’t think we were going to make a real movie, we mostly thought of putting together a series of interviews. The first thing that caught my attention was the emotional charge that, even years later, you could feel from the words of the interviewees. The encounter with Pina was an experience that left a mark. We started from that, inverting the point of view that would have been more obvious for the artistic subject of the creation of the documentary: we didn’t tell the story from inside the rehearsal room but from the perspective of those who have met Pina, which is, in a way, the “point of view of the city”. This process, moreover, goes hand in hand with the methodology of Pina’s work who, in addition to the many hours of rehearsals, would launch in a feverish exploration of the city which she wanted to touch with her own hand both in its historical and artistic side and in the most hidden foldings of its degradation. Watch and understand. It was clear, at that point, that this “anthropological gaze” was truly the story we were looking for. The work would have narrated the exploration of the city.

Mario Martone, Matteo Garrone, Vladimir Luxuria and all the other figures involved in the making of this movie have gifted us with a piece of the mosaic that, little by little, revealed Pina’s gaze, a gaze that knew how to connect high and low, the Rome of Popes and of nightclubs, while passing through the Rustica gypsy camp (which presently doesn’t exist anymore). Thanks to Ninni Romeo, who was much more than just an assistant to Pina Bausch, we were able to enter in contact with the gypsy family that hosted Pina many times as Pina was interested in their story. Nowadays, Ljiljana and Želiko and their sons and nephews live in the camp of Salone street, sadly known for its poor hygienic conditions and for the scandals that involved the Capitol administration - investigated in the inquiry “Capital Mafia” - in the matter of its management. They have welcomed us in the container where they live and they agreed to reminisce with us the encounter with Pina, but, at the same time, they wanted to show us the condition where they live today. There it is then, suddenly, the documentary taking a different direction from the one imagined, compelling us to narrate a story within the story. What happened to this family 16+ years after the encounter with Pina Bausch? Following the footprints of Pina and her exploration, even our movie became almost something else. This “something else” is, precisely, Pina Bausch in Roma.

One last note on the realization of the movie which, having enjoyed a process in more sittings, has had to deal with putting together different materials of different dimensions. I’ve used the plural pronoun “we” in these notes because without the acute eyes of Ilaria Scarpa, the visual imagination of Claudio Martinez and the editorial solutions of Paolo Barberi, this movie wouldn’t exist. Other essential elements were the sound mixing provided by Fabio Sabatini and the music of Riccardo Bertini and of Mammooth. This was a stimulating and essential working team that was able to sensitively enter the fabric of history. To this I’d like to add the sensibility of Simone Bruscia, the director of Riccione Theater, who, with characteristic passion, was the first one to connect the elements of this story and set us on its footsteps.      


Graziano Graziani

Graziano Graziani is a theatre critic, writer and journalist. He’s a co-host of Fahrenheit on Radio 3 Rai and he has written for numerous papers (favorite credits are Lo Straniero,, the blog of Minimum Fax minima&moralia and the new Treccani webzine, il Tascabile). He collaborates with Rai 5 for which he created many documentaries on contemporary theatre. He has published various books, last of which was Atlante delle Micronazioni (2015) by Quodlibet editor. He curates a blog named Stati d’eccezione

Production Notes

Riccione Theater
The association Riccione Theater promotes contemporary theater culture with interventions aimed to the dramaturgical field and theatrical research.

In biennial intervals, Riccione Theater organizes the Riccione Prize for Theater, the oldest dramaturgical contest in Italy, which was born in 1947 and is celebrating its 54th edition this year (jury president Fausto Paravidino). The contest awards original work not yet presented to the public and awards a special prize of merit to authors that are under 30 years of age, the Riccione Prize “Pier Vittorio Tondelli”, named after one of the most important traveling companions of this manifestation. To favor the presentation of the most meritable works, two other prizes are awarded covering the partial production costs of the mise en scène (information:

The Riccione TTV Festival – Performing arts on screen alternates the Riccione Prize for Theater. The festival, born in 1985 from an idea of Franco Quadri, proposes encounters, projections and shows dedicated to theatre and to the relation between stage and video. In the last years numerous videos and cinematographic retrospectives about Pina Bausch found their place in the festival, curated by Riccione Theater and presented also outside of the TTV Festival, nationally and internationally. From this experience, under the leadership of Simona Bruscia (Director of Riccione Theater) and Andrés Neumann (historical producer of Pina Bausch’s shows) came the idea of producing a dedicated work about the extraordinary Roman time of Pina Bausch, until now undocumented. Thanks to the incredible research conducted by Graziano Graziani and his staff, the original idea translated to a documentary film, Pina Bausch in Rome, full of unpublished interviews. After some rough cut presentations, the movie - produced by Riccione Theater with the fundamental collaboration of Andrés Neumann Theatrical Archive/Cultural Center Il Funaro - will now be presented for the first time in its finalized version.

The promotional campaign around experimental theatre conducted by Riccione Theater continues year round in the city of Riccione. Here, besides organizing the theatrical season for the city in the Tondelli Space, the association holds three important archives, under the project ACT!, Contemporary Theatre Archives. The conserved material, open to public consultation, consists of almost 4000 videos and of more than 6000 scripts, comprehensive of the most important texts from italian dramaturgs and writers, among which Italo Calvino, one of the first winners of the first edition of the Riccione Prize.

Theatrical Archive Andrés Neumann

Cultural Center Il Funaro (Pistoia)

The Theatrical Archive Andrés Neumann and the Cultural Centre Il Funaro (Pistoia) collaborated with Riccione Theater to make the movie Pina Bausch in Rome, a documentary film by Graziano Graziani, from the original idea of Simone Bruscia and Andrés Neumann.

There's an important historical, artistic and institutional bond between the city of Rome and the iconic, pluri-awarded and internationally renowned German choreographer Pina Bausch. Out of the series of 15 shows that Pina Bausch created inspired by 15 cities in the world, Rome is the only one that can claim two dedicated shows: Viktor (1986) and O Dido (1999), both co-produced by the Theatre of Rome. It was the intimate relation between Pina Bausch and the city of Rome that inspired the artist to launch in this creative process.

These two roman productions were preceded by long residencies in Rome, in 1985 and in 1998, with the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, in which the artist and the company had had the possibility to build strong relations with local artists and the institutions of the city. In particular, the stronger relationships were developed with Federico Fellini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Matteo Garrone, Mario Martone and the national Academy of dance which nominated Pina Bausch as their honorary director. This documentary includes footage filmed in 2015 and 2016, with interviews of those who collaborated with Pina Bausch during the roman residencies.

The movie is born from an initiative of the Riccione Prize and the Theatrical Archive Andrés Neumann. The very same Neumann has contributed as a theater producer to the development of artistic projects of many protagonists of the contemporary theatre scene.

The idea for the documentary was inspired by some pictures contained in the Theatrical Archive Andrés Neumann, relative to the visits of Pina Bausch to the gypsy camps in Rome. The Theatrical Archive Andrés Neumann is housed at the Cultural Center Il Funaro of Pistoia, and this documentary is part of the initiatives aimed at the valorization of its content.

Pistoia is the Italian cultural capital of 2017, and Pina Bausch in Rome is a virtuous example of synergy between territories (Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Lazio) and artists (Pina Bausch, Mario Martone, Matteo Garrone, Maurizio Millenotti, among others).

At this event’s time, thanks to the contribution of the archival Superintendence of Tuscany and the technology of the university Scuola normale superiore of Pisa, an online portal will be launched that garanties the virtual accessibility to the Theatrical Archive Andrés Neumann.

The documentary received contributions from MiBACT (Soprintendenza archivistica e bibliografica della Toscana - Archival and Bibliographical Superintendence of Tuscany) and from the region of Tuscany (Agreement for the valorization of the archival patrimony, coordination of the interventions and maintenance of archives and libraries).