Home > Cinemathographers – Archival and Bibliographic Collections – Luigi Chiarini Library
Home > Cinemathographers – Archival and Bibliographic Collections – Luigi Chiarini Library


Archival and Bibliographic Collections – Luigi Chiarini Library

This collection consists of 35 hand-written and typed documents. The bulk of it is made up of note-books with historical and anthropological information used by Serafin when making his documentaries.

Enzo Serafin (1912-1995) – Director of photography from 1942. From 1943 to 1949 he worked in Spain and was considered one of the greatest Italian specialists in his field. Over the course of his long career he collaborated with Michelangelo Antonioni in “I vinti” (1952), with Luigi Zampa in “La romana” (1954), with Roberto Rossellini in “Viaggio in Italia” (1954) and with Alberto Lattuada in “La steppa” (1962). During the 1950s and 1960s he worked on many American films. In 1953 he was awarded the Nastro d’argento. He was also a member of the Italian Association of Cinematographers. The “Serafin Prize” for the best director of photography has been established at the Venice Film Festival.

The printed archive, which was donated to the Centro Sperimentale in 2020, features the “Patents” collection, entirely dedicated to Alfredo Donelli’s work as a designer – both solo and in partnership with Edmondo Orlandi –  of film cameras, projectors and other sophisticated devices aimed at improving their performance. There are eighteen patents, filed between 1923 and 1955 and accompanied by executive designs, reports and original drafts, thirteen of which are of film cameras, including the Reporter, Avia, Novado and Truka. Each invention includes a register number and identifying elements such as the inventory, the date of application and charts describing the mechanical components and their functions. A subsection of the collection includes files of Italian and foreign magazines, rare photographic press books, monographs, a score, a 78 rpm disc and copies of various publications. These documents were collected and employed by his nephew, prof. Gianfranco Donelli, to illustrate Alfredo Donelli’s professional career and life in the book Alfredo Donelli, un pioniere del cinema italiano: friulano di nascita, romano d’adozione, caprese d’elezione (Alfredo Donelli, a pioneer of Italian cinema: Friulian by birth, Roman by adoption, Capri islander by heart). The volume also includes the files of his 43 films and biographical profiles of directors, actresses, actors, cameramen, set designers and authors with whom he had professional and friendly relations with. About five hundred photographic prints, negatives and plates and postcards are archived at the photo library, film footage is stored in the Cineteca.

Alfredo Donelli (1893- 1958) – Director of photography and assistant director, he worked with several film studios during the silent film era (Sicula Film in Catania, Floreal Film, Do.Re.Mi., Medusa Film and Monaldi Film). His filmography includes 43 motion pictures, which were shot between 1915 and 1930, and features collaborations with Lucio D’Ambra and his partnership with Alfredo De Antoni, as well as major blockbusters such as: Ben Hur (1924), Quo vadis? (1925) and Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei (1926). When the industry moved into the sound era, Donelli decided to focus exclusively on the design and production of film equipment. The patents he filed between 1923 and 1955 were used for about a decade by Cinemeccanica and, later, by Meccanica Cinematografica Donelli to produce film cameras which were built and sold until the late 1970s. The 1948 Venice Biennale celebrated his genius with the award of the Film Technique prize. During these years he designed and engineered the very first Italian 35 mm camera, the Novado, which marked a turning point for cameramen, who were now able to hold the machine without the need for a tripod.

Curt Courant e Alfredo Donelli sul set di "Quo vadis "1924
Curt Courant e Alfredo Donelli sul set di “Quo vadis “1924