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10 July1966
Almost a tangent
Massimo Bacigalupo
Original sound

10 July 1966 was a turning point for Italian independent cinema. At the XVII Concorso Nazionale di Montecatini, the amateur film festival par excellence, the film 'Quasi una tangente' (Almost a Tangent) was presented, shot on 8mm by Massimo Bacigalupo, a student from Rapallo just out of high school. 'Almost a Tangent' - which we celebrate with an excerpt - will win the prize for best film and the cup for the best 'idea', splitting the jury and the public and arousing controversy that will be echoed in film criticism magazines. An anonymous reader will write: 'award the film, don't award the idea! Otherwise you become co-responsible for it, more so than the author himself'. As if the film's subject matter (the last day in Paul's life and the suicide that also implicates his girlfriend) could negatively affect young people whom adults do not understand. 'Almost a Tangent', with its unusual and non-conformist language, does indeed break cultural and generational moulds. It can be said to mark the birth of Italian underground cinema, under the (declared) influence of New American Cinema, and to contribute to a new season, that of independent cinema. It takes an 18-year-old, with a small-scale film made with schoolmates - and as disruptive as perhaps only the most famous debuts of Bellocchio and Bertolucci - to upset the arcadia of film buffs. And unexpectedly, these shocking films come from the provinces but their breath is international. Bacigalupo recalls being 'thunderstruck by an essay by Maya Deren in which she invited us to free ourselves from the tripod and explained how, with a single movement, a character can move from one place to another'. Sometimes a movement of the camera is enough to make a revolution.