This major Archive Festival opened on Saturday. We reckon up to 4,000 visitors may be here over the coming week for a feast of cinematic classics and masterpieces.  The temperatures are expected to reach 40℃ so film-buffs will be thankful for the city’s elegant arcades to shelter as they move between the festival’s five different sites and venues.

The Festival opened officially at mid-day on Saturday with a screening in the Cinema Modernissimo, a 1915 underground cinema which is currently be restored. The lower cavern is a wonderfully atmospheric setting for ‘reel’ film. We were welcomed by the festival’s key organisers in both Italian and English. Then we enjoyed a tribute to that glorious gothic masterpiece which suffered so recently, Notre-Dame de Paris.

The tribute was George Franju’s Notre Dame – cathédrale de Paris (1957) filmed in colour and a scope format. This was a fine 35mm print with the narration translated in digital sub-titles.  Franju had a great visual sense and this is beautiful to watch. The film’s treatment seemed to me to be influenced by Victor Hugo’s marvellous descriptions in his classic novel.

The film explores both the interior and exterior of the massive building and treats the famous gargoyles with care and attention. The film ends with these ‘petrified statues’ and their great vistas of the city. This was a fine way to open a week of cinematic treasures.