Cinema Parenthèse: Paolo Gioli, The Pierced Screen
Sun 3 Mar 2019, 15:00 to 17:00
WIELS, Brussels
PART OF Cinema Parenthèse
  • With an introduction by Enrico Camporesi

“Cinema Parenthèse presents the film program ‘Paolo Gioli: The Pierced Screen’ with an introduction by Enrico Camporesi. A tireless inventor and tinkerer (‘bricoleur’) of film and photography apparatuses, Paolo Gioli (b. 1942) is one of the most peculiar protagonists emerged from the Italian scene of the 1970s. Unique, for his eccentricity, though at the same time double, that is: divided in his own parallel analysis of fixed images and moving ones. And at a closer glance, one could argue that his entire body of work is haunted by the figure of the double, starting from, obviously, negative and positive (most often 16 mm black and white film printed onto color stock). The program presents a path through a selection among a filmography that spans forty years. These six films let us peek into a laboratory in which – following Sergei Eisenstein’s genealogy of the medium – the ‘urge to secure phenomena’ (photography) meets ‘the urge to secure a process’ (cinema).

– Cinema Parenthèse



Del tuffarsi e dell’annegarsi [On diving in and drowning], 1972 – 10’25”

L’operatore perforato [The perforated operator], 1979 – 53’

Film stenopeico, 1974-1989 – 13’06”

Quando i volti si toccano [When faces touch], 2012 – 6’44”

Filmarilyn, 1992 – 11’12”

I volti dell’anonimo [Faces by a person unknown], 2009 – 10’30”


“Since the late 1960s, the Italian filmmaker Paolo Gioli has been employing procedures that are almost frighteningly stripped down. He has made films without cameras. He has devised his own cameras, often without lenses or shutters or motor drives. When he needs a shutter, his fingers, or perhaps some leaves from trees, will suffice. He has embedded images within images without benefit of optical printers, and he has brought photos to frenetic life without animation stands. When he needs a camera, a modest old Bolex or Bell & Howell will do fine. Impresario of clamps and masking tape, he creates extraordinary films with equipment that looks distinctly knocked-together.

The overused term DIY doesn’t capture the eccentric craftsmanship of a filmmaker who starts from the most basic features of cinematic material: film stock, perforations, light. Everything else, even the frame, can be treated as an add-on. These films are hand-made with a vengeance. Sparse as the equipment and approach are, the results are overwhelming. Gioli’s films can be quietly lyrical or explosively aggressive. Most are fairly compact – fifteen minutes or less – but all are dauntingly dense. Each one’s fusillade of images would be enough for a feature. Skittering and jumpy, emitting a spray of single frames, the most fast-moving ones benefit from being black-and-white and silent: nothing distracts from the swarming images’ direct hit on your eye and brain.”

David Bordwell1