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Roberto Cincotta, Director Of The Italian Cultural Institute Of Belgrade

We Never Stopped Bringing Italian Artists To Serbia

The Serbian public will once again have the privilege of enjoying Italian culture at in-person events organised by this Institute. Starting from the next academic year, all interested learners will be able to take Italian classes either on site or online.

We can happily say that the current programming is up to speed and back to pre-Covid levels – says Italian Cultural Institute Director Roberto Cincotta. Despite the return to in-person activities, the Institute will continue to explore online activities, as they’ve proven to be able to entice new devotees to Italian language and culture from smaller places in Serbia. Indeed, the experiences of 2020 and 2021 point to that.

“In 2020 and 2021, the shift to online work was not followed by a decline of enrolment numbers in the Italian language courses. As a result of the pandemic, and as it has happened all over the world, teaching had to be adapted to new methods, to which our teachers adapted with great competence and flexibility. We plan to reactivate face-to-face courses starting from the next academic year, though without giving up the offer of online courses that allow students who don’t live in Belgrade to learn Italian,” says Cincotta.

Apart from the online presence, we see a lot of your programmes being implemented throughout Serbia. To what extent have the Institute’s activities rebounded to pre-Covid levels?

We’ve resumed the organising of cultural events throughout Serbia and can happily say that the current programming is up to speed and back to pre-Covid levels. We believe it is necessary to support cultural events that take place not only in the capital and major cities, but also in the other Serbian towns that have demand for an Italian cultural offering. We hope that the pandemic will abate further, to allow for a richer and more varied programme of cultural events, confident that these will meet the public’s interests and expectations.

How has the digital experience changed the way we are able to familiarise ourselves with Italian heritage and culture?

The digital experience at Italian cultural events and in Italian language classes has certainly modified our public’s approach to the knowledge and fruition of Italian heritage and culture. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget that digital cultural experiences had started spreading even before the pandemic – these include virtual visits to museums and famous Italian sights, digital books from all times (including manuscripts) made available by Italian libraries, online concerts and conferences, and virtual Italian language courses. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the digital experience has become an essential aspect of our daily life by increasing what was already becoming a trend.

I believe the digital experience can be useful if conceived not as an exclusive option, but rather as a complementary aspect coupled with the direct experiences of studying Italian, visiting Italy and enjoying Italian culture. With the help of technology, it is easier to prepare, deepen and preserve knowledge of our culture, and participation in it, over time.

At the time we’re conducting this interview, another Biennale di Venezia is taking place. How does this most extremely popular cultural event connect our cultures?

La Biennale di Venezia is one of the most important cultural events in the world. Since its foundation in 1895, La Biennale di Venezia has remained at the forefront of the promotion of new artistic trends by organising contemporary art events through a unique multidisciplinary model. With a leading role in the research and dissemination of new contemporary artistic trends, La Biennale di Venezia organises many events in the fields of art, architecture, cinema, dance, theatre and music, with exhibitions and performances.

The Institute intends to attend the Belgrade Book Fair with its own stand, which will be a meeting point for the Serbian public to get acquainted with many Italian authors, novelists, poets, essayists, teachers and journalists

The Biennale Arte, whose number of participating countries has grown from 59 in 1999 to 82 in 2022, has been recognised as having a prime role among contemporary art exhibitions worldwide. This is a prestigious event that showcases the most recent artistic expression of various countries, including Italy and Serbia, and connects cultures and visitors in an international context. All stages of preparation and the implementation of participation in La Biennale di Venezia are extraordinary opportunities for mutual exchanges of knowledge between curators, artists, art critics and visitors.

Many of the festivals that the Institute traditionally participates in, actively and regularly, suffered organisationally during the period of the pandemic. In which of the upcoming editions of festivals we will be able to see Italian artists?

The Italian Cultural Institute of Belgrade has never stopped ensuring Italian participation in Serbia’s numerous festivals with high-level artists, in all fields of culture, whether music, art, cinema, theatre or photography. In 2022, the Serbian public will continue to be offered opportunities to encounter Italian culture. Here I’m thinking of Italian participation in the Belgrade Dance Festival, the Belgrade Film Festival, the Film Days in Kragujevac, Užice and Bor, the Beldocs International Documentary Film Festival, the Belgrade International Review of Archaeological Cinema, the Night of Museums in Subotica and Novi Sad, the Guitar Art Festival, Belgrade Photo Month, the Art Link Festival of Classical Music, without overlooking the dozens of events that are organised directly by the Institute in collaboration with the National Theatre in Belgrade, Dom Omladine, the Kolarac Foundation, the Museum of the City of Novi Sad, Madlenianum Opera & Theatre, the Yugoslav Cinematheque Film Archives and many other institutions of Serbian culture.

It is a quite impressive list! Let me also remind your readers of a number of recent and upcoming concerts of Alice, Nicola Piovani, Mario Biondi and the Belgrade stage of Sanremo Giovani. You can find out more on our website at any time.

The Institute also participates in the Belgrade International Book Fair with its own stand each year. Are you preparing as if we will be in a position this October to enjoy the true gathering with poets and books? How have you managed to keep the public informed about new IIC publications?

Our Institute is extremely active in the publishing field, both through its own publications and collaborations with Serbian publishers. I would like to mention the imminent publication of Carla Fracci’s autobiography Step by step, realised in partnership with the Belgrade Dance Festival; the Serbian edition of Con ventiquattromila baci by Francesca Rolandi; and the graphic novel by Davide Toffolo Intervista a Pier Paolo Pasolini, without forgetting several Serbian editions of Italian books published with the support of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For this reason, the Institute decided to attend the Belgrade Book Fair with its own stand, which will be a meeting point for the Serbian public to get acquainted with many Italian authors, novelists, poets, essayists, teachers and journalists. So, once again, we advise our dear followers to visit our website and our social media channels and subscribe to the Institute’s newsletter.