Barbaro, Umberto


Barbaro, Umberto
(1902-1959)
   Film theorist, playwright, screenwriter, documentary filmmaker. A self-taught Marxist writer and intellectual active in a wide variety of cultural fields, Barbaro was deeply influenced by the film theories of Bela Balazs, Rudolf
   Arnheim, and Vsevolod Pudovkin, whose work he was the first to translate and make known in Italy.
   While working as a literary critic, editor, translator, novelist, and playwright, in the late 1920s Barbaro also developed a passionate interest in film and so became part of the group of writers and intellectuals that had formed around Alessandro Blasetti's film journal, Cinematografo. With Blasetti and others he joined the reborn Cines studios during Emilio Cecchi's period as artistic director there in the early 1930s. With Cecchi's encouragement he made two labor documentaries, Una giornata nel cantiere di Monfalcone (A Day at the Monfalcone Shipyard, 1932) and Cantieri dell'Adriatico (Shipyards of the Adriatic Coast, 1932), both demonstrating the strong influence of Sergei Eisenstein and the Russian school. While at the Cines he also worked as a screenwriter, most notably on Goffredo Alessandrini's charming light comedy Seconda B (1934).
   In 1935, in spite of his Marxist orientation, he was called to teach at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia by its first director, Luigi Chiarini. Together with Chiarini he founded the Centro's official journal, Bianco e nero, and produced a number of teaching documentaries related to different aspects of filmmaking. Between 1944 and 1947 he served as director of the Centro, following which he also taught at the Polish Film Institute. More of a theorist than a practitioner, he only ever directed one feature film, L'ultima nemica (The Last Enemy, 1937).

Historical dictionary of Italian cinema. . 2010.

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