As a reaction to the popular mainstream films that dominated the Italian film industry in the 1930s and 1940s Italian Neorealism arose, followed by other more realistic film making approaches. The popular White Telephone films (Cinema dei telefoni bianchi) produced shortly before WW2 imitated American comedies and melodramas telling stories which were in line with the ideology of the fascist regime. Showing the upper class life in Italy with all its bourgeois wealth and modern decor this film genre received the denomination Telefoni Bianchi, referring to the frequent appearance of white telephones as status symbols at a time when common people, if at all, had black telephones.
"Telefoni Neri" (Black Telephones) is a video essay by Hannah Leiß on Italian cinema between the 1950s and 1970s that features black telephones instead of white ones – a kind of cinema that tells stories about deeply troubled protagonists who are utterly incapable of communicating with each other and appear to be all alone in the haunted house that represents their inner self.
Selected for "The Video Essay," a new section at FILMADRID Festival Internacional de Cine presented in collaboration with MUBI. For Study Purposes Only.