To Italo Calvino, nothing was more fresh and original than works of art that saw the light of day. As a man of letters, he was right; he lovingly reread texts. Yet Calvino, like Borges, also knew that even a newly discovered work of art can speak volumes about works past and even works to come.
Last spring, a significant and unexpected discovery was made in the archives of the Fondazione Luigi Micheletti in Brescia, thanks to an archivist from the Istituto Luce and a colleague at the Fondazione Micheletti. Four boxes out of the 1,200 stored in the foundation, marked simply "T.S.", contained a never-released, totally unknown medium-length documentary by filmmaker Ermanno Olmi. The moviola revealed its title, which translates as "Attempted Suicide in Adolescence (Youthful A. S.)." The year was 1968. Leading off the opening credits was the name of a multinational pharmaceutical company, Sandoz, suggesting the documentary had been commissioned to address a sensitive topic in a crucial year in the history of young people.
The documentary looks at the early pioneer years at a psychiatric ward in Milan's Policlinico hospital; it was an experimental ward, for its day, headed by a great psychiatrist, Carlo Lorenzo Cazzullo. A psychiatric emergency room for attempted suicides, with a shockingly high number of adolescents. The film features interviews, statistics and personal stories. It's somewhat surprising, but all the hallmarks of Olmi's filmmaking are found here, in miniature: his editing, pacing, casting, the expressions on his faces; his empathy. It seems that the documentary has never been shown in public, nor does it appear in any of the director's filmographies drawn up over the years. The moviola presents us with what amounts to a brand-new film, never released, then salvaged - a time capsule of Olmi's films from the ‘60s and ‘70s, with his inimitable touch.