Calabretta-Sajder's Film Obsession Leads to Book Publication

Ryan Calabretta-Sadjer
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Ryan Calabretta-Sadjer

"Without watching the movies, one cannot appreciate the book," said Ryan Calabretta-Sajder, visiting assistant professor of Italian, in a recent interview about his latest publication, titled Divergenze in celluloide: Colore, migrazione e identità nei film gay di Ferzan Özpetek (Celluloid Divergences: Color, Migration, and Identity in the Gay Films of Ferzan Özpetek).

Calabretta-Sajder's study on Ferzan Özpetek, Turkish film director and screenwriter, started after teaching a fourth semester course at Indiana University Bloomington, while pursuing his master's degree, and noticing how well his language students responded to the film. His book was born out of his doctoral dissertation and draws on years of research and presentations at national and international conferences and a prior article-length publication.

"A colleague suggested the film Le fate ignoranti 2001 (His Secret Life) because of the thematic on gender. I watched it and immediately fell in love with the story, but also with Özpetek's filmography," said Calabretta-Sajder.

His publication is the second 'academic' book on Özpetek and there is nothing of book-length in English yet. Calabretta-Sajder said, very little has been written on gay, Italian cinema and the director himself does not want to be categorized as a 'gay' filmmaker, even though he is an 'out' homosexual who recently married his partner in accordance with the recent same sex marriage law, known as la legge Cirinna, named for the senator who championed the law.

Calabretta-Sajder's publication provides a general overview of LGT cinema internationally, and a rather pointed focus on LGT Italian cinema, subdividing each category and examining them carefully. "I examine five of Özpetek's films through a close analysis regarding gaze theory, color theory, and food theory. Thus, the reader is exposed to both a theoretical reading and a filmic reading of his gay films," he added.

He also examines Özpetek as a 'foreign' director: he is Turkish by birth but has Italian cinematic training. "According to the film scholar Hamid Naficy, the migrant author can never lose his 'accent,' but I do not agree with Naficy and the case of Özpetek, I believe and argue in the book, demonstrates how 'Italian' Özpetek truly is," continued Calabretta-Sajder.

"In fact, his knowledge, allusion, and a lot of his craft come from the Italian film masters like Rossellini, Visconti, Germi, and Pasolini. I truly enjoy all of the films covered in the book and I believe they are his best overall.  Personally, I am most fond of Le fate ignoranti and Mine vaganti (his film comedies)."

He recently returned from a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Calabria, where he began working on two new book-length projects.

Calabretta-Sajder is extremely happy to see his book published with the "Cinema" Series of Mimesis editore, one of the leading academic publishing houses in Italy today.

Calabretta-Sajder is scheduled to do a book presentation of Divergenze in celluloide: Colore, migrazione e identità nei film gay di Ferzan Özpetek (Celluloid Divergences: Color, Migration, and Identity in the Gay Films of Ferzan Özpetek) in New York City on Sept. 14.


Ryan Calabretta-Sadjer, visiting assistant professor of Italian
World Languages, Literatures and Cultures


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