A documentary film by Francesco Clerici
What happens before a Museum object is showcased in an exhibition?
How much does it take to understand its story and to restore it?
Who does this job?
This is the story told by the new extraordinary film directed by Francesco Clerici, an emerging Italian director. The movie was shot entirely at the Museum, during the restoration of the Cockcroft-Walton particle accelerator displayed in the middle of the Extreme exhibition, which opened in 2016.
A mysterious artifact, taken from a collection of unusual relics from the past is being
lavished with attention by a team of specialists. It looks like a futuristic sculpture, but we
find that it is actually a scientific instrument.
The film follows, step by step, the restoration of a 1950 particle accelerator at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia in Milan. We observe the restoration of the materials, surfaces, and valves, to the recovery of memories and gestures. It is a collective rite: restorers, curators, former users of the machine work to transform a "thing" taken from the everyday life of the laboratory into a museum "object," the guardian of several stories.
The film is part of a quadrilogy dedicated to manual work as an example of intangible
The first film on “art” (Hand Gestures, 2015. 77') won the International Critics’ Award in the Forum section at the Berlin Film Festival. Handle with Care, the second chapter, focuses on the theme of "science."
Handle with Care it is a scientific film that also—and, above all—tells a story: it describes
the life and work at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia in Milan.
The film describes the sounds and the passage of time during the restoration work on a "mysterious" object, whose rich past filled with hopes and fears is brought to light along with the original colors of its surfaces. The people working on it are described only through their work, their expressions and movements, their way of joking or concentrating.
The basic idea was to continue the line of thought started with Hand Gestures and to drive further into the Greek concept of téchne, but in a more contemporary context.
If the first film analyzed art and craftsmanship, becoming a film about time and its repetition, my intention regarding Handle with Care is for it to be a film about time and memory.
As almost always in my movies and short films, I have tried to be, above all, the first, hidden spectator. And I would even say (in this case, dealing with a restoration) an intimate spectator, attempting to open one of the many possible windows from which to look upon the Museum's work …
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The film is an independent production born spontaneously and informally, from a show of mutual interest between the film director and the Museum, during a meeting at the end of the winter of 2016.
A true artistic residency came to life, in which the poetic and aesthetic contribution of film shooting has gradually become an organic element in the work of research, study, and enhancement of the accelerator led by the Museum staff.
The process that Francesco Clerici has filmed in detail constitutes a valid example of the work that lies at the heart of every Museum and which substantiates its historical significance; a work that, nonetheless, is rarely visible in its practices and rituals.
The restoration work planned by the Museum had two components: one physical, tending toward conserving the instrument and making it possible to provide a reading for it, the other, mnemonic, aimed at recovering the context and memory, by means of oral history interviews.
In a natural way, the film shows both aspects without using face-on interviews (which the Museum has also realized, separately, for its own archives).
The film shows, or rather, it reveals, that making history in museums is an interdisciplinary and collective work, which involves highly disparate professions, social subjects, and skills. Often in museums, public history is made: the story is told rigorously and experienced together…
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Francesco Clerici (1983) graduated in Art History and Criticism from the Università Statale di Milano. He is an award-winning documentary director and a writer.
Since 2009, he has been collaborating with the Confédération Internationale des Cinémas d’Art et d’Essai and with contemporary artist Velasco Vitali, as well as teaching courses and lessons for schools and universities (Università Bicocca di Milano, Università degli studi di Milano, Università degli studi di Parma).
In 2012 he published his first book of short stories: 24 Fotogrammi: storia aneddotica del cinema (Secondavista Edizioni, 2012). Hand Gestures, his first feature film documentary, was presented at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival, in the FORUM section, where he won the International Critics’ Award (FIPRESCI).
His works have been presented at festivals all over the world (London Film Festival, Viennale, RIDM Montreal, Sarajevo Film Festival) and screened in locations such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the British Film Institute of London, the Irish Film Institute of Dublin, the Cineteca Nacional de Mexico of Mexico City, the Cinemateca Uruguaya de Montevideo, the Dundee Contemporary Art Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the Barbican, the Festival di Filosofia Moderna di Modena, The National Sculpture Factory in Cork, the MART of Trento and Rovereto, the Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski of Warsaw, the Muzeul Național al Ţăranului Român of Bucharest, the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, and the Palazzo Reale in Milan.
WORLD PREMIERE: September 2, 2017
The IIFF is hosted by National Intangible Heritage Center of South Korea. From the website: “The International Competition section was established for the first time this year in an effort to search out hidden gems dealing with intangible heritage. A total of 1,048 films were entered into the competition, of which 9 films from 10 countries were selected for the finals.” Handle with Care is one of them.
From MDFF website: “A festival on the culture of the project. Milano Design Film Festival is an information platform, a meeting place, a place to experiment and to update one’s skills, characterised by the quality of its content and an innovative and effective ability to dialogue with a cross section of the public”.
XXII Artefacts Meeting
Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris, France
Cape Town International Film Market and Festival
Cape Town, South Africa
360° Science and Technology Film Festival
Laceno D’Oro 42 Festival Internazionale del Cinema
La Lettura / Corriere della Sera
“L’inizio del futuro e la sua fine” di Severino Colombo
“Maneggiare con cura. Francesco Clerici al LACENO D’ORO 42” di Martina Ponziani
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Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Press Office
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Antonio e Daniele Menegaldo
Direction, filming, editing, photography
Sound mixing, sound editing supervision
Martina De Santis
Color correction, postproduction supervision
With the support of
Istituto Luce Cinecittà, Roma
Archivio Nazionale Cinema Impresa, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Ivrea (TO)
With the collaboration of
Associazione CISE2007, Milano
Fondazione ISEC, Istituto per la Storia dell’Età Contemporanea, Sesto S. Giovanni (MI)
CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics
Istituto Luce, Archivio Storico
United World films for the Arthur Rank Organization Ltd
Archivio Nazionale Cinema d’Impresa
Archivio Storico Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnica Leonardo da Vinci, Milano
Archivio CISE /Fondazione ISEC, Istituto per la Storia dell’Età Contemporanea, Sesto S. Giovanni (MI)