A large audience always attends our events, and that demonstrates that the public could hardly wait to again enjoy the concerts, exhibitions, shows, conferences and all other kinds of cultural events that we offer
We have been confronted by a series of crises over the past few years, including the Covid-19 pandemic, economic calamities and climate change. During the pandemic, the Italian Cultural Institute of Belgrade shifted its cultural offer, events and Italian language courses to an online format. Those were difficult times, but it was still possible to provide a valid and engaging programme to our public – says Italian Cultural Institute of Belgrade Director Roberto Cincotta.
“We interpreted the needs that emerged from such circumstances as an opportunity to reach a broader audience. Appreciation for this approach is proved by the fact that Italian language courses are still available online even after the lifting of health restrictions, alongside in-person courses. As to the future, we want to continue offering the public a large number of high-level events in all cultural sectors, even in cooperation with Serbian and European cultural institutions,” explains our interlocutor.
We find ourselves in a vastly different atmosphere this year compared to previous years, when the fear of the pandemic loomed large. How does it feel to breathe freely and move around without restrictions, particularly when it comes to your inperson programmes and the audiences they attract?
It’s definitely a big turnaround and a beautiful feeling. The entire Serbian cultural panorama has experienced the recovery with great euphoria and a desire to do things. The Italian Cultural Institute has also organised a huge number of events, most of them in collaboration with Serbia’s public and private cultural institutions. We have also recorded a significant increase in cultural proposals involving Italian artists: musicians, dancers, writers and more. A large audience always joins our events, and that demonstrate that the public could hardly wait to again enjoy concerts, exhibitions, shows, conferences and all other kinds of cultural events.
You have pledged your support to publishers, translators, production / distribution / synchronisation and subtitling institutions, as well as cultural institutions in their efforts to promote Italian culture. What themes and topics have proven to be the most popular among the Serbian public?
Cinema is among the most popular and appreciated sectors among the Serbian audience.
That’s why the Institute collaborates on the organisation of festivals and exhibitions throughout Serbia, including the Cinema Italia Oggi initiative, a special Italian cinema festival that’s realised in collaboration with Cinecittà Studios. Music is also highly appreciated, from classical to jazz and from pop to opera. Painting exhibitions, such as the one of the works of late 17th century painter Jacopo Bassano in Novi Sad, photographs and comics have also been able to count on broad public participation. Our Institute’s participation in the Belgrade Book Fair was highly appreciated and the meetings with Italian and Serbian authors were warmly welcomed by visitors. The Italian Cultural Institute cooperated with Serbian publishers on the publishing of the Serbian edition of Daniele Meucci’s graphic novel on Nikola Tesla, another one on Pasolini by Davide Toffolo and the essay by Francesca Rolandi on the influence of Italian mass culture in Yugoslavia (1955 -1965). Last, but by no means least, comes Italian fashion.
This year marks the launch of the IFIB – Italian Fashion in Belgrade programme. Could you provide us with more details about the programme’s inception, previous events and what we can expect in the future?
The first edition of the IFIB is an “umbrella” event, a set of initiatives dedicated to Italian fashion. It is having great success. We cooperated with the Embassy to organise fashion shows, live shows, workshops on the excellence of Italian tailoring and an exhibition of iconic dresses created by the most famous Italian fashion designers and worn by great cinema stars. Fashion is indeed one of the sectors of Italian culture that generates enthusiasm among the public around the world, and in Serbia in particular. We will continue to dedicate a lot of energy to Italian fashion events.
With the spring season of concerts and exhibitions having now come to a close, what events would you recommend to our readers for the summer season?
We will have an event in early June on the great Italian families of fashion and art, Versace and Donà dalle Rose. Starting on 16th June, the Italian Cultural Institute will host an exhibition of paintings on canvas by Vittorio Bianchi at the Institute, and later also another one focused on two stars of Italian and Serbian football – Paolo Rossi and Siniša Mihajlović – will be inaugurated on 5th July, hosted by the Museum of Applied Arts in Belgrade, with very precious football memorabilia like the golden ball and boot.
Italian fashion events continue to generate enthusiasm among the global audience, particularly in Serbia, highlighting the significance of fashion as a vibrant aspect of Italian culture. We remain committed to dedicating substantial efforts to further promote Italian fashion in the region
In addition to film screenings at various locations across Serbia, we will promote Mauro Sigura’s jazz band at the Nišville Festival and the literary café at the Institute with Eugenio Berra. And finally, to conclude the summer programme, the latest edition of the Italian and Serbian Film Festival, which is being organised together with Gabriella Carlucci and hosted by the Yugoslav Cinematheque Film Archives, will get underway on 25th September.
Among the many Italian language courses offered by the Institute, two have piqued our interest: courses for young pupils aged four to seven, and bespoke courses tailored for companies. Could you elaborate on these courses and the level of public interest they have generated?
The Italian language is undoubtedly much loved in Serbia and is studied at all ages, not only for reasons related to passion for Italy and its culture, but also for the professional opportunities provide to those that speak it. This is why the Institute organises courses at all levels, for groups and individuals, targeting companies, both in-person and online. It is also possible to obtain CILS linguistic certification at the Institute, which is aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. There is always a tailor-made course available for those wanting to study Italian.
It is during this period of the year that many young people begin considering their options for studying, either at home or abroad. How frequently do you receive inquiries about studying in Italy from Serbian students?
We constantly receive requests of information from Serbian students who want to study in Italy. We collaborate on the organisation of promotional events of the most important Italian universities and each year award scholarships granted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to a select number of Serbian students and young researchers. We receive a high number of requests every year and the selection process is difficult, given that all the projects submitted are incredibly valuable. The Institute additionally advertises calls for scholarships from Italian universities and cultural institutions, especially in the fields of linguistics and music.