Cinema America: The Arts Confused With Politics

Members of the cultural charity Cinema America have recently been the victims of politically-oriented attacks

Recently, a cultural project seems to have turned into a political one. Recent attacks on members of the charity Cinema America have brought to light questions about political boundaries, with accusations of the charity being anti-fascist. Leaving politics aside for now, let’s consider the cultural upbringing of Cinema America in Rome, to understand the history of why and how this charity came to life.

It was in the lively autumn of 2012 as I, in my first semester at college, would walk out every day from my building and see that exactly on the other side of the street on the crowded Roman road, Via Natale del Grande, something was happening. The old Cinema America had been left to fall apart but young people started gathering around it, and I believe I was lucky to witness the birth of what is now a cultural charity by the same name.

Life is funny in that I saw Cinema America come to life in 2012, and here I am writing about them several years later (and fortunately for me, a graduation later). Cinema America has left an impact on me and on the world that only continues to grow.

The history

Cinema America was originally a movement of young teenagers to keep the old building and movie theater alive, there on Via Natale del Grande in Rome. They wanted to avoid seeing it brought down to become apartments or a parking lot, and instead, they pushed forward a culturally advanced idea. They were sick of how many buildings were degrading in Rome at the time and wanted to at least save this one.

The two-year occupation of these Kids of Cinema America did not only mean planned events with numerous movie screenings, it also defined a social project that left its trace on the city and abroad. Several famous Italian directors and actors like Carlo Verdone, Paolo Sorrentino and Keanu Reeves have supported this project. Movie screenings were not the only events organized, these kids actually worked to reconstruct the building.

In 2014 the original owners of the building on Via Natale del Grande fought to gain their building back and those young people were pushed out. This did not stop them from their mission, though, and they subsequently obtained permission to set up in a small forum nearby. This is where the “Small Cinema America” came to life, and they started organizing cultural events and movie screenings in the nearby square, Piazza San Cosimato. These free screenings were coined “Cinema in the Square” and now famous and prestigious actors gather every summer after the movie screenings to answer questions and start cultural debates. This year, this event even expanded outside of the center of Rome.

In 2015, the now officially-registered charity Cinema America won the public announcement for selection of the Cinema Troisi, on Via Induno in Rome, officially becoming theirs in 2018. They have since opened donation requests to complete the cinema’s improvements: a studio with 50 seats available 24/7, a theater with over 298 seats and to become the official headquarters of the Cinema America charity.

The attacks

The Cinema America group can be recognized by what have now been called the “Bordeaux T-shirts” with the charity’s name on the back. The members of the Cinema America have, within the last week, been attacked by apparent fascist supporters. The latest attack seems to have been directed at the charity founder’s girlfriend.

A new hashtag has been growing in popularity online: #iostoconipicchiatori (I support the attackers) and it really raises questions as to why these attacks are being made. Promoting cultural events, which are well-supported by professionals in the field, and making these events free for anyone to participate (at least during the summer) or at a low cost, should be something worth promoting, not attacking. Previously, the “Kids” of Cinema America were also criticized, but for having apparently accepted funding from banks, which seems absurd.

If anyone has a magic wand to make construction costs suddenly disappear — please write to us because I am sure they would be very interested.

Free Violence

Online, these attacks have been confusing, and several other reporters have been questioning this free violence. Attacks without a direct meaning, as if organizing and promoting cultural events were taking a political stand. Hence, the term “free violence” — violence based on the name of…nothing.

If supporting knowledge, arts and cinema cultural is being “anti-fascist,” then everyone should be considered so. And if that’s the case, then let’s please make the “fascists” pay for their tickets when coming to a screening. Violence should not be used, especially when there is no reason or motive behind it.

All of this makes me wonder if the year on my calendar is wrong. It feels like we have gone back about 40 years to a time when supporting the arts was considered partisan. We should not forget that art is knowledge.

Nowadays, knowledge can be expensive. Here is Cinema America lowering the cost and expanding this knowledge to the young, the elderly, and families. They can gather within an environment which is ideally reserved for the young, but exists to be shared among everyone, for the good of a country like ours, which saw the birth of a cinema genre of its own like neorealism.

I will share my support for these “kids” because they demonstrate that this much-criticized generation is actually doing good.