Not many remain of the dozens of film events that flourished in the 1980s together with Bergamo Film Meeting. We cannot help being pleased with the long-lasting success of a film festival that has reached its 40th edition. It stands to prove that the idea we had at the beginning was a good one and that, while inevitably changing skin and intentions over time, BFM has always had a reason to exist. But also: BFM has been increasingly appreciated by professionals and the audience. The Covid 19 pandemic, however, has accelerated a crisis long-brewing in cinema, forcing us to ask ourselves what the meaning of an on-site film festival is. That is a question that we should keep asking ourselves, starting from the next edition.
But, first and foremost, today is a time for celebration: not only the festival’s 40th anniversary but also its return to an on-site formula after two online editions. In 1983, BFM was conceived as a festival focusing on the future: on bringing emerging talents from all over the world to our city. It then went through a long phase in which the focus was the past: retrospectives were often the program’s highlight. Then it became eminently a festival of the present – the European present – earning recognition and significant financial support by the EU MEDIA programs. One might say that the present is no longer what it used to be, and neither are the ways and forms it is represented on screen. BFM, however, still strives to be a faithful mirror of the urgency that many filmmakers put into witnessing, researching and reinventing reality. It is to them that we must look to, while we imagine what the cinema of tomorrow will look like, assuming it will still be called that.
However, before imagining the future, we must not forget the past and those who are no longer with us. Forty years is a long time in the span of a human life; inevitably, many have left us since 1983. Personally, I still remember very well the meeting at the City Hall in which the festival was established. At that table, I was the young man with high hopes, and fate has allowed me to be still here now, writing these notes. Those no longer here, sadly, are the visionary public officials who were the first institutional supporters of our ambitious idea: mayor Giorgio Zaccarelli and the councillor for culture Gian Pietro Galizzi, who would later become mayor in turn. Sorely missed are also Piercarlo Nolli and Sandro Zambetti: two “grand old men” from Lab 80 and Cineforum, different in character and disposition, but inherently “sons of Bergamo” in their constant desire to do and improve things. They have been an example for several generations of cinephiles and enthusiasts who have succeeded in the thousand jobs, from the most menial to the most demanding, that are needed to make BFM work.
In closing, we want this edition to mark the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new era in the sign of awareness and open-mindedness, which BFM always had in spades.
President of Bergamo Film Meeting Onlus