‘Inside the Uffizi’ Closes Italy, China, U.S. for Magnetfilm

Screening this evening Jan. 6 as part of the Uruguay’s ARCA Festival, “Inside the Uffizi” has already done steady business for boutique Berlin-based documentary shingle Magnetfilm, headed by Georg Gruber.

Rights have been sold to Sky in Italy and Hugo East for China, and an online release planned on streamers via Docodigital scheduled before the end of March on iTunes, Google, Amazon, Rakuten for TVOD and EST in the U.S, Canada, Spain, selected Spanish-language territories in Latin America such as Argentina, and Italy.

Directed by award-winning German film-maker Corinna Belz (“Gerhard Richter Painting”) together with Enrique Sánchez Lansch, the film takes us behind the scenes of the world’s second oldest art museum, the Uffizi in Florence, Italy, pausing to allow us to take in masterworks by Renaissance giants like Caravaggio, Botticelli, Titian and Gentileschi, with some lavish camera work lingering in mouth-watering detail in what is a very special place for art lovers.

“There is something very unique about the history of the Uffizi as a building, as a museum, as an institution closely tied to the Medici family,” commented joint directors Belz and Sánchez Lansch. “Even today, the core of the collection consists of Renaissance paintings that were either commissioned or collected by members of the family.”

Filmed over 5o shooting days spread out over two years, “Inside the Uffizi” charts the story of the museum from its foundation in the late 16th century as a showcase for the Renaissance art of the Medici family, to its upgrading and renovation in the postmodern age under the stewardship since 2015 of Eike Schmidt, the first non-Italian director of the museum. This meeting of past and present was something which particularly attracted the filmmakers to a museum famous for adhering strictly to tradition.  

“Tradition dictated where paintings had to be and that tickets were only available on site since the Uffizi only decided to have their own website after 2015. We were very interested in exploring how the Uffizi would face the challenges of the 21st century with new appointment as director Eike Schmidt,” in the words of Belz and Sánchez Lansch.

With all this in mind, the film takes in the bustling backroom activity of a museum with over 2 million visitors per year, allowing us to observe daily business like the commissioning of renovation work later carried out on two of its visitor rooms, the organization behind the temporary display of British sculptor Anthony Gormley’s “Body In Space” exhibition, and restoration work on a painting damaged by a mafia bomb years before. Not to mention the visit of a party of awe-struck schoolchildren and plenty of other curious visitors.

“With the close-ups we have the opportunity to see things in a much more concentrated and detailed way, the directors said. “But our films are always an invitation to maybe take a closer look and experience the art and site for yourself and in person.

Portraits take in not only affable director Schimdt but also an eloquent librarian who describes the Uffizi as “an eternal Noah’s ark for the presence of art.” Schmidt “represents the contemporary demands of such a large museum of the 21st century and also a new style of leadership,” said the directors. “While the Italian librarian speaks entirely from the tradition and also the national pride of the Italian cultural heritage. To combine different traditions, languages and attitudes is what makes European culture so interesting.”

Produced by veteran Thomas Kufus, this is the story of how a former office building in Florence, “Uffizi” meaning offices in Italian, was turned into a site hosting “a new vision of humanity” and how, too, in Europe’s darkest moments of war, the staff at the Uffizi, then as now, exercised a duty of care to protect the precious collection for the future generations, from Napoleon and Nazis alike.  

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