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DANTE

a documentary film by Ric Burns

ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE

COMING TO PBS 2022,
CHECK BACK FOR MORE DETAILS
 

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita

mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,

che la via era smarrita.

The Divine Comedy

Inferno, Canto 1

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Midway upon the journey of our life

I found myself within a forest dark

For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

H.W. Longfellow Translation 

Dante, a groundbreaking three-part, three-hour documentary film, presents and explores the extraordinary power, beauty, and drama of Dante's great masterwork, set within the riveting circumstances of the poet's own life and the turbulent times he lived in.

No feature-length documentary film has ever fully exploited for an English-speaking audience the stunning power, reach and drama of Dante's biography, or of the soaring poetic masterpiece he created- a poem that stands to this day at the very apex of the world literature and culture. 

 

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DANTE will bring deep and widespread awareness of Dante’s significance and immense contribution to world culture: an impact that has reached now across 700 years with a text that speaks as powerfully to contemporary readers today as it did to the men and women of Dante’s own time. The modern-day relevance of the story of Dante’s life and work is astonishing, as people everywhere look for signs of hope and redemption and a way forward in circumstances as challenging in their own way as Dante’s own.  Featuring Antonio Fazzini as Dante, Fattori May as Beatrice, and Dikran Tulaine as Virgil.

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The Poet

Written more than seven hundred years ago, between 1306 and 1321, by a proud, acutely sensitive and fiercely ambitious self-taught Florentine poet and sometimes politician born in 1265, it was begun by its beleaguered author at his own moment of harrowing loss and dislocation:  far from home – on his own, with no way back –  “a wanderer, almost a beggar,” he wrote at the time – having been framed for a crime he didn’t commit in 1302, and exiled on pain of death from the striving fiercely divided city of his birth – never to return.

 
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The Purpose

Dante wrote his exquisitely patterned masterpiece not in the accustomed high style of literary Latin – as would have been expected – but in a form of vernacular Florentine Italian he made his own: determined to communicate to the widest possible audience – men and women, young and old, high born and low, literate and unlearned – and convinced that only the language of everyday life could embrace and register the full range and depth of human experience – and convinced as well that the most transcendent values and meanings could be found in the simple, humble, irreducibly personal details of each and every ordinary human life.

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The Legacy-
The Divine Comedy

Because it begins in darkness and error and ends in radiant joy, Dante called his vast poem “la commedia” – the comedy.  Fifty years after his death in exile in 1321 his first biographer, Giovanni Boccaccio, added the word “divine” to the title – and the world has known it ever since as “la divina commedia”:  The Divine Comedy.

 

Encountering it now is itself a vast and transforming journey:  into a work of art –  into the riveting life and times of its maker – into the politics and culture and human geography of late middle ages – into the birth of the Italian language – into the birth of humanism, and of human modernity itself.  

Filmmakers & Production Team

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Ric Burns
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Riccardo Bruscagli
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Ric Burns, Director & Co-Writer, has been creating historical documentaries for public television for over 20 years. He began his career co-writing and producing the celebrated PBS series The Civil War and has since directed over 30 hours of award-winning films including the powerful New York series. Over the past two decades Steeplechase Films has become one of PBS’s most trusted and honored collaborators, making a mainstay of bringing quality programming to public television and redefining the way audiences engage with history. His work has won numerous film and television awards including six Emmy Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards,  two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards,  three Writer’s Guild of America Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writing;  the Eric Barnouw Award of the Organization of American Historians, and the D.W. Griffith Award of the National Board of Review. Ric Burns has a BA and M.Phil from Columbia University and an MA from Cambridge University in Comparative Literature.

Riccardo Bruscagli, Co-Writer & Senior Advisor, is Professor Emeritus of Italian Literature at the University of Florence, where he was Preside della Facoltà di Lettere and Chair of the Italian Department. An internationally renowed maestro in the field of Renaissance Literature, he more recently dedicated his research on Dante and his works, publishing an acclaimed edition of the Comedy (Bologna, Zanichelli, 2011) with DVD of the first full recording of the poem, in collaboration with the actor Ivano Marescotti.  Working for more than 10 years with the Società Dantesca in Florence he has been the official speaker of the program Leggere Dante, hosted at the historic La Pergola Theater,  bringing together a roster of the most illustrious Italian actors, under the Direction of Stefano Massini, currently the Direttore artistico of the ‘Piccolo Teatro’ in Milan.  He’s actively engaged in bringing together the heritage of the Italian culture, and especially the legacy of Dante’s language and poetry, with the culture and intellectual expectations of the English-speaking world. 

Jane Morrow
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Jane Morrow, Executive Producer, is an attorney in private practice.   She is a passionate problem solver and works to empower her clients to be part of creating their own solutions. History and politics fascinate and inform her vision. She believes in the power of language and the inspiration it brings time and again. Dante’s poem’s psychological and historical parallels with our modern world and its’ message of light and hope are driving her to produce this documentary.

Bonnie Lafave
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Bonnie LaFave, Senior Producer, Steeplechase Films.  A Harvard Nieman Fellowship recipient; Journalist with CTV News and ITS in Canada working on Midday, National and Journal and in the States she created and produced “Please Explain” on the Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC’s Peabody award winning program.  Since joining Steeplechase Films her work includes Andy Warhol, We Shall Remain: Tecumseh's Vision, Into the Deep: American Whaling and the World, Death and the Civil War, American Ballet Theatre: A History,  The Pilgrims, and Oliver Sacks: His Own Life.

Christine Herring
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Christine Herring, Creative Consultant, is an American who has made her life in Florence for the past 30 years.  Always fascinated by language and translation from Italian to English and back again, she is devoted passionately to bringing Dante to English speakers, particularly through the voice of Professor Bruscagli. 

 
Leigh Howell
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Leigh Howell has worked for filmmaker Ric Burns at Steeplechase Films since 2010. Since that time, Leigh has gone from intern to producer, working on a number of films for PBS, including Death and the Civil War, American Ballet Theatre: A History,  The Pilgrims, and Oliver Sacks: His Own Life. Prior to joining Steeplechase, Leigh worked for the Oxygen Network and NBC Universal. She moved to New York City in 2006 after graduating Indiana University.

Li-Shin Yu
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Li-Shin Yu is an award-winning film editor who has collaborated with director Ric Burns since 1993. For her work on New York: A Documentary Film, Yu was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Editing of a Non-Fiction Series. Yu also edited documentaries Ansel Adams, New York: the Center of the World, Andy Warhol, We Shall Remain: Tecumseh's Vision, Into the Deep, The Pilgrims, and Oliver Sacks: His Own Life.  She Co-Directed The Chinese Exclusion Act with Burns.

Buddy Squires
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Buddy Squires is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, an Emmy Award-winning cinematographer and a co-founder of Florentine Films. Squires is best known as the director of photography for such films as: The Civil War, New York, The National Parks and Compassion In Exile. Squires has been nominated eight times for Individual Achievement in Cinematography by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 

Why should we care about Dante Alighieri? After all, seven centuries separate us from him.  Our universe is different, our cosmology is different, our science is different – even our religion is different. So why should we care about Dante? Because Dante addresses the core of our humanity. Dante has the ambition of embracing everything about what it means to be human beings on this planet.  And the message is that -- in all its own specifics and with all its own particular details -- your life matters.

—  Riccardo Bruscagli, from the film

 

Contact

For more information about the film, contact mail@steeplechasefilms.com

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A Production Of STEEPLECHASE FILMS / DANTE PRODUCTIONS in association with PBS  Featuring ANTONIO FAZZINI / FATTORI MAY / DIKRAN TULAINE Music Composed By BRIAN KEANE Cinematography By BUDDY SQUIRES, ASC with TIM CRAGG / HUGH CAMPBELL / LUCA CIUTI Edited By LI-SHIN YU / TOM PATTERSON / KENT BASSETT with BRANDON HOLMES Executive Producer JANE MORROW Produced By LEIGH HOWELL / BONNIE LAFAVE Written by RIC BURNS / RICCARDO BRUSCAGLI Directed By RIC BURNS 

 

Funding for DANTE has been provided by Rosalind P. Walter / National Endowment for the Humanities / George Jenkins Foundation / Gina and Dana Randt / The Francesco and Mary Giambelli Foundation / Coca-Cola / Lori Anne Lo Presti / Paolo Miseria / Patricia and Marshall Geller / Delta Airlines / Regina K. Scully / Artemis Rising Foundation

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This film is being produced with fiscal sponsor

City Lore, Inc.

a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

Donations in support of Dante: A Documentary Film are tax deductible.