Red Italy. 1979. USA. Directed by Eric Mitchell. With Jennifer Miro, Patti Astor, Harald Vogl, Scott Wardell, Tom Wright, John Lurie, Arto Lindsay, Mitchell, Rene Ricard. Digital video from Super8mm. 60 min.
In Rome a fashion socialite, bored by the wealthy man keeping her, first seduces a black American GI and then falls for a radical, rock-singing laborer. Mitchell’s second feature references film noir, the declarative political style of the French New Wave, and the Neorealist cinema of Michelangelo Antonioni and Pier Paolo Pasolini (whose 1961 Accattone is quoted in a scene Mitchell filmed undercover at a Manhattan arthouse). Though it was promoted as “the Italian film with a twist,” the performances of Downtown regulars Astor, Lurie, Lindsay, and Ricard root the film in the New York club scene, a milieu Mitchell would capture most successfully with Underground USA the following year. Shot in Super8 and exhibited on video (a practice rival filmmaker Michael Oblowitz credited with giving moving images an “appropriated artiness”), Red Italy opened at the New Cinema Mitchell founded with Becky Johnston and James Nares. Utilizing elements derived from the original film and video release versions, the Museum’s restoration was produced in collaboration with the filmmaker and screens 40 years to the week from its premiere in 1979. Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art.