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Picking Up Pasolini

by B. Z. Niditch

Years after the war, Albert, a wounded veteran who had become a correspondent for the Times and was a future filmmaker, found a copy of one of Pasolini’s books of poetry in a dilapidated bookstall in Rome.

Knowing Latin and some Italian, coming from Manhattan, he sat on a bench in the sun. Then he wrote out a proposal for a grant to make a film based on Pasolini’s life.

Two months later he received a letter from a grad student, Gina, saying they might work together in film studies if he would like, since she was in the city and taking care of her father, Salvatore, a wounded resistance fighter and well-known composer. He was confined to a wheelchair.

That summer, the two began filming at a soccer match. Gina had an uncanny and psychic sense of images in black and white.

One of the handsome, street-poor adolescents, who called himself Dante, wanted to be cast for a part and to partner for sex, but Gina said no. Gina’s father came to the set and brought music for the score of the students’ film. He encouraged Dante, who got the part of one of Pasolini’s comrades.

After a summer of delays and poetic translations, the film had its premiere in an art theatre with other student productions paid for by the university acting guilds.

Even with TV publicity, Pasolini did not show up. La Stampa reported “Pasolini is dead.”

Copyright © 2012 by B. Z. Niditch

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