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Franco Indovina, a Cinematographer to be remembered

by Gregorio Napoli

It was Monday July the 3rd 2000 and in hall B in Taormina's Conference Centre, we were awaiting the arrival of Tonino Guerra: brilliant writer, outstanding scriptwriter, amiable conversationalist. Dinamically directed by Felice Laudadio, the Film Festival was paying homage to this great man, by expounding an incomparable collection of prose compositions. Viaggi Vagabondi (Published by Angelo Scandurra, Catania 2000), fortythree fascinating stories which could be descibed as a short film portraying all the changes through time, relating a story full of cheerful ghosts who accompany the author of L'uomo parallelo and La pioggia tiepida, the women who inspired him, religious people who have taught him the spiritual alphabet, humble citizens through whom he has understood ancient wisdom. And obviously the film Directors, the cinematographic fauna with whom he has worked: from Elio Petri to Federico Fellini, from Andrea Tarkovskij to Sergej Paradzanov (he prefers to alliterate him as Paragianov), from Michelangelo Antonioni to the Taviani brothers. During this encounter in Hall B, from Tonino Guerra's indestructible memory emerges Franco Indovina's name. "How can you Sicilians -he asked himself, the undersigned being a momentary point of reference - not celebrate this cinematographer of yours? Listen carefully....Ingmar Bergman, having seen Tre nel mille said to me: "Keep an eye on tha boy, he is a true artist." I felt as though I had been hit. I asked for a microphone and replied: "Maestro, Franco Indovina died during the night between the 5th and 6th of May in the Punta Raisi plane disaster" - and since then I have never succeeded in stimulating the press into worthily celebrating his life. I will only say that on the morning of May the 6th, when news of the disaster and the names of the victims were released in Palermo, the city seemed to suddenly be enveloped in a sad cloak of lead. "That's how it was, a mantle of oblivion spread over Indovina and the 104 victims who, with him, also lost their lives, amongst whom were many other illustrious names. Felice Laudadio immediately announces that Taormina 2001 will promote a complete retrospective on Franco Indovina, with an adequate filmography. That is to say - as in a verse by Alberto Arbasino - "that not only others are capable of doing a good deed. "Born in palermo in 1932, Indovina made his debut as assistant Director at the 'Teatro Piccolo' in Milan. He then dedicated himself to cinematography, with the episode 'Latin Lover' from 'I tre volti' (1964) with Soraya and Alberto Sordi; he evolved, pursuing a remarkable career directing Ugo Tognazzi in Menage all'italiana, Vittorio Gassman in Lo Scatenato, Franco Parenti and Carmelo Bene in Tre nel Mille, Marcello Mastroianni in Giochi Particolari. Constantly bringing dignity to comedy, wether in the confessions of a elderly hedonist, or the vicissitudes of Andrea Sperelli in the years preceding the law on divorce, descibing the moral fragility af an actor, lingering on the dark ages or prying into the crisis of the spoilt 'bourgeoisie'. Should Taormina loosen the knot of forgetfulness, perhaps involving the writer Edoardo Rebulla who in his recent Sogni d'acqua (Sellerio, 1999) recalled the DC 8 disaster at Montagnalonga, south of Palermo, it would be a payback, in honor of a culture cut short by fate. Tonino Guerra in his Viaggi, sees another emerald, "the precious stone worn by Soraya during her happy days in Rome with Franco Indovina, a dear friend and a cinematographer of great worth." These words sound like the beginning of a noble introduction.