Renaissance Cinema is an art film for planetariums. It mediates on the history of painting the ceiling to make it disappear, opening up to the Heavens above, and how the planetarium is a heir of this practice. It does so through the architecture, painting and music of the Mantuan Renaissance.
The film is being created by a team consisting of Axel Straschnoy (Director), Tuomo Hutri (DOP), Karri Niinivaara (Sound), Rodolfo Signorini (Narration) and Concerto di Margherita (Music), produced by Bufo with local production by Eie Films. Straschnoy, Niinivaara and Bufo have collaborated before on the planetarium film Kilpisjärvellä (2012). For his part, Hutri has ample experience as a feature film DOP having won several awards for his work. Signorini has dedicated his life to researching and writing about Mantua’s local treasures with a passion and certainty that few can match. Concerto di Margherita is a medieval music ensemble from Mantua based in Basel that is becoming increasingly visible in the international medieval musical scene.
Writing new cinema rules for the planetarium
The traditional rules of cinema, as set for the first time in Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and defined by French theoretician Noël Burch as the Institutional Representation Method have been in use for over a hundred years. Used and abused in Hollywood, deconstructed by the Nouvelle Vague, they still work and they are still taught in film school.
However, many of those rules make no sense on a hemispherical screen: there is no off-screen space, any kind of cut with an angle change is perceived as a jump cut—the screen is not something far away in front but around the audience, changes of angle mean the space around the audience shifts place—, the 180° rule makes no sense either when the screen is all around you. In short, the planetarium demands new ways of creating film. Because most planetarium films are made by science educators, and because the majority are computer animations, this research has not taken place. One of our objectives in this film is to explore further the possibilities of the medium and learn what can be done and how.
Playing with the rules of the medium
The film plays with what is expected from a planetarium film. Normally, these deal with the sky; in this film we present a painted sky as imagined 500 years ago. Planetarium films have a voice over that instructs us on what we are seeing; here, the speaker appears on camera, he is not a neutral embodiment of knowledge but an individual who has worked all his life close to the paintings and architecture he is showing us. He does not speak with a professorial detachment but with the passion of someone who has fallen in love with hits subject. In traditional planetarium films, cliché sounds are used for effect; here the music of the period makes the rooms reverberate, bringing us back to the moment where the spaces were created.