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ROTTERDAM 2018 Signatures

Galileo's Thermometer: A meeting of minds with Tonino De Bernardi

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- Portuguese director Teresa Villaverde screens an experimental film, dedicated to the Italian filmmaker Tonino De Bernardi, at International Film Festival Rotterdam

Galileo's Thermometer: A meeting of minds with Tonino De Bernardi

The Signatures section of International Film Festival Rotterdam hosted the world premiere of the new film by Portuguese director Teresa Villaverde, who is well-accustomed with the Dutch event. Her latest film turns out to be one of the hardest works in her filmography to classify to date. Galileo's Thermometer [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
presents itself as a sort of experimental essay on the Italian filmmaker Tonino De Bernardi (also selected this year at Rotterdam with his docufiction Iphigenia in Aulis [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
), where the director of Colo [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Teresa Villaverde
film profile
]
and Trance [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
reveals what his films mean to her and why she loves them.

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Galileo’s Thermometer begins with a meta-cinematographic introduction detailing Teresa Villaverde's desire to bring together films and souls through her film. A still shows a TV from the 1990s, turned off. The next image shows a hand jamming a VHS of Bernardi's masterpiece, Electra, into a video player, after which his film begins. And so, through this initial sequence, Villaverde chooses to tie the first ten minutes of Galileo’s Thermometer to the first ten minutes of one of her closest friend's most well-known films.

As we see later on, Galileo’s Thermometer is much more than just a journey through the filmography of the director of Piccoli orrori. Villaverde accompanies clips from his best feature films with the country house where the director lives with his family, as well as excerpts from his diary (read by her in Italian), poems from Pier Paolo Pasolini and the famous Howl by Allen Ginsberg. This juxtaposition of visual and audio elements forms a poetic essay on the mutual admiration and friendship between filmmakers. 

The great discovery of this film is Teresa Villaverde’s experimental formal approach. Accompanying this collection of art and essays, it’s the interviews with her Italian companion’s family members (including his grandchildren), and Bernardi himself that end up grabbing our attention. During these interviews, Villaverde reveals a filmmaker obsessed with Greek tragedies due to a traumatic experience during his own adolescence that was never resolved. As confessed by Tonino De Bernardi himself, the suicide of a family member led him to take refuge in the works of Euripides, where suicide is often presented as a heroic act. 

The documentary Galileo’s Thermometer was produced by Alce Filmes. International sales are being handled by Portugal Film.

(Translated from Spanish)

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