Il Cinema Ritrovato on Tour: Laborer's Love + I by Day, You by Night


The Main 3 Sat, May 13, 2023 4:15 PM
Film Info
Program:Il Cinema Ritrovato On Tour
Runtime:128 min


Laborer's Love + I by Day, You by Night

Saturday, May 13 at 4:15pm

Highlighting restored, archival, and silent cinema from Il Cinema Ritrovato's annual festival in Bologna, Italy.

Introduction for Laborer's Love (Laogong Zhi Aiqing) by Zhang Zhen (New York University). Introduction for I by Day, You by Night (Ich bei Tag und du bei Nacht) by Rick McCormick (University of Minnesota).

About Laborer's Love (Laogong Zhi Aiqing)
China | Directed by Shichuan Zhang | 1922 | 23 min | Chinese, English | Courtesy China Film Archive

The silent film will screen with live musical accompaniment by Zimu Ma on the guzheng. Original music composed by Cong Liu. Laogong zhi aiqing is very much a product of the urban culture and of a confluence of discourses and practices of shadowplay in Shanghai. Before they established Mingxing Company in 1921, the creators of the film, Zhang Shichuan and Zheng Zhengqiu, had collaborated eight years earlier to make some Chinese films for the Asia Company. The early 1920s saw an unprecedented cinema craze in China. After a stock market crash, many speculators turned to investing into the nascent film industry … It was in this sizzling ambiance that Zhang and Zheng began their second collaborative venture. From the very start, they also established the Mingxing Shadowplay School to train professional actors and actresses.

The narrative trajectory of Laogong zhi aiqing is clear, but the film is less concerned with the internal psychology of the characters than with their actions, which often amounts to a show that disrupts any incipient diegetic absorption … The story is in fact a satirical commentary on the question of social mobility, implicitly mocking the feudal and patriarchal codes regulating marriage and family. –Zhang Zhen, An Amorous History of the Silver Screen, Shanghai Cinema 1896-1937, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2005.

Zhen Zhang bio: Zhen Zhang teaches and directs the Asian Film & Media Initiative at the Martin Scorsese Department of Cinema Studies at New York University. Her books include An Amorous History of the Silver Screen: Shanghai Cinema 1896-1937 and Women Filmmakers in Sinophone World Cinema (forthcoming 2023).

Cong Liu bio: Cong Liu (1988) is a Chinese composer and doctoral candidate in music composition at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Graduated from Tianjin Conservatory of Music in electric guitar performance. His musical style involves a wide variety. His compositions include classical, film, pop, and experimental music. He is good at integrating different music styles and techniques with Chinese folk music styles to compose music with Chinese elements.

Zimu (Abby) Ma bio: Zimu (Abby) Ma is a student at Shattuck-St. Mary's School and member of the Carleton College Chinese Music Ensemble. She has played guzheng since she was 4.

About I by Day, You by Night (Ich bei Tag und du bei Nacht)
Germany | Directed by Ludwig Berger | 1932 | 98 min | German | Courtesy Murnau Stiftung

Willy Fritsch, probably the biggest German film star of his time, was closely connected to the success of the Tonfilmlustspiel, especially regarding the lavish musical extravaganzas Erich Pommer produced for UFA in the early 1930s. In the most famous of these, Fritsch was coupled with Lilian Harvey, a supremely athletic dancer and dynamic physical comedienne. The finest hour of both the actor and the Pommer unit might be Ich bei Tag und Du bei Nacht, though. In “one of the crowning glories of the German musical” (Peter von Bagh), Fritsch encounters not Harvey, but Käthe von Nagy, a completely different and more versatile actress with the ability to gently poke fun at the signature cockiness of her co-star, while at the same time still falling under his spell.

Ludwig Berger’s fluid, elegant direction does not try to emulate the expansive spectacle of UFA blockbusters such as Erik Charell’s Der Kongress tanzt, but opts for a smaller, more intimate framework. A tale of interiors and interiorities, a comedy of mistaken identity that folds in on itself. The designated lovers, manicurist Grete (von Nagy) and waiter Hans (Fritsch), sleep in the same bed from the start, she at night and he during the day… so it’s just a question of getting both of them in there at the same time; a question of synchronizing, of blending two lives, two space-times—and also, by way of an irony-fueled meta-filmic discourse—two movies into each other. So in the end Ich bei Tag und Du bei Nacht is not about romantic conquest, but about matchmaking and filmmaking becoming one and the same: an artistic practice giving us access to our own desires. -Lukas Foerster

Rick McCormick (University of Minnesota) bio: Rick McCormick, Emeritus Professor of German, taught and researched German film and culture at the University of Minnesota from 1987 to 2021. His published books include titles such as Sex, Politics, and Comedy: The Transnational Cinema of Ernst Lubitsch (Indiana University Press, 2020); Gender and Sexuality in Weimar Modernity: Film, Literature, and “New Objectivity” (Palgrave, 2001); and Politics of the Self: Feminism and the Postmodern in West German Literature and Film (Princeton University Press, 1991).

About Il Cinema Ritrovato On Tour–Minneapolis

Il Cinema Ritrovato On Tour–Minneapolis will feature recently restored archival films at The Main Cinema from May 11–13, 2023. Presented in partnership by Archives on Screen, Twin Cities, the Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Cineteca di Bologna, the festival will screen eleven highlights from Il Cinema Ritrovato’s 2022 lineup. Il Cinema Ritrovato is an annual international film festival that exhibits new restorations and archival films in Bologna, Italy. Archives on Screen is proud to partner with Il Cinema Ritrovato and Cineteca di Bologna to curate selections from their festival for Twin Cities audiences.

About Archives on Screen, Twin Cities

Co-organized by Michelle Baroody and Maggie Hennefeld, Archives on Screen is dedicated to bringing rare, unseen archival films from around the globe to movie screens in the Twin Cities. Animated by a love of cinema and a commitment to making visible excluded images from the past, we work with international film archives and local film venues to expose students and audiences to the richness of film history. We program events that foster open dialogue and community engagement between university students and local film audiences across the Twin Cities. Our programming draws on local, national, and international film archives, and it spans the early history of silent cinema, studio feature films, experimental counter-cinemas, third cinema, amateur and non-theatrical films, short films, unfinished films, and contemporary independent filmmaking.