The Reemergence of a Forgotten Treasure

I maccheroni by Raffaele Andreassi appeared on the radar in 2014 when it was shown in the Culinary Cinema section of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival. Since that screening, new information has emerged as well as a rare clip.

Restored by the Cineteca di Bologna, I Maccheroni is a 12-minute short film made in 1959 by journalist-turned-filmmaker Raffaele Andreassi. Described as a "journey into the memory of Italy in the late fifties", the film is set in the Pugliese town of Gargano and tells the heartbreaking story of a poverty-stricken family that on one Sunday, could not afford the traditional Sunday plate of macaroni and sauce. The film centers on a young boy who saved a little tomato sauce in a jar so that he could smear it on his face, convincing playmates that he had Sunday sauce with his family. 

According to an article written by Fulvio Baglivi for Cineteca Bologna, Raffaele Andreassi was a reporter, poet, painter, photographer, and mostly film­maker. Cinema was his work, the field in which he was involved for fifty years trying to express his passions and his vision of the world while following production and food issues. His body of work is complex and multifaceted: Andreassi directed art docu­mentaries, short films that revolved around a news story to document the life of modern man, investigations, TV reports, and sport stories. There are only three feature length movies in his filmography: a movie on pros­titution in Rome, which was supposed to be titled L'amore povero but was destroyed by the production house and distributed under the cheap title I piaceri proibiti; Flashback is the story of a German soldier trying to flee from Italy during World War II, present­ed at Cannes in 1969 but ignored by 'of­ficial' Italian cinema; I lupi dentro, a long tale on naïve painting in the lowlands of the Po River Valley, which follows in the foot­steps of Antonio Ligabue pittore, brushed aside and basically forgotten, considered uninteresting and irrelevant.

Although Andreassi's work covers a wide range of subjects, eras, and places, his filmography should be considered d'auteur, characterized more by its rigor and the transparence of images and sounds rather than the director's presence (quiet and discreet). While filming children working in the quarries of Puglia (Bambini), or ani­mals waiting to be slaughtered (Gli anima­li), Andreassi does not impose a style or a vision; he does not explain or illustrate (he was one of the first to eliminate voiceovers) but uses a technical evaluation to amplify the emotions and pain behind the images. He is a multifaceted figure, challenged by each of his projects, able to work beyond the boundaries between fiction, documen­tary, cinema, and television.

There is still not much information available about I Maccheroni. But the good news is that the film is in the possession of Cineteca Bologna, which organizes public screenings from time to time. So you may have the opportunity to see the complete film. In the meantime, check out this fascinating clip. There is no dialogue but the child's expressions say everything. What a wonderful collaboration between Andreassi and this young actor.