The first show was an exhibit of
film comedies. This gave birth to the idea of using a run down part of town, the little square of Betlemme,
as a an outdoor meeting space for a large number of people.
In the beginning someone suggested a system of backgrounds and screens, then someone wondered if it wouldn't be better to paint directly the fronts of the surrounding houses, if owners made it possible. The actual houses were two-storey, usually humble, with faded plasters and spoiled walls.
Gino Pellegrini was entrusted with realizing the plan: he was just back from Hollywood where he had lived since 1957, when he was seventeen, and where he was in the staff making top movies: 2001 A Space Odissey, West Side Story, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, Mutiny of the Bounty and many others.
In the little square of Betlemme, Pellegrini envisaged a homage to Cinema - broadly speaking - mixed with a country-western set, spattered with "trompe l'oeil" effects capable, like cinema, to give the illusion of reality.
The first summer festival, in 1982, in the Betlemme square, was called "Cinema, the people, the imagination and a square"; in 1983, in the same little square, the show was called "Variety in the square". In fact it was not only movies, comic movies.
Before, in the intermission and after the showing of a movie in a little stage placed under the screen illusionists, musicians, singers, entertainers performed.
At street level, arranged with small tables and chairs like a cafè-chantant, people could have drinks and snacks, because in a painted house was arranged a cafè.
So the illusion of Cinema spred to the audience and the things. People did not only go to the movies, but they were on a stage, too and they took part in the theatre of illusion according to the logic of the dreams.
When the exhibition was over, the staging and the settings of this strolling-cinema got slowly into the daily habits as a natural fake, a play of illusion able to create a ritual deception.
Thank you, Gino Pellegrini, for the extraordinary invention, this double-faced reality, for your popular dream suspended among Dreams, Cinema and Poetry.