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Wednesday , September 30 2020

Italy film recalls pain of forgotten WWII massacres

Yeo, Das to receive APSA awards

ROME, Nov 22, (Agencies): A new film is shining an uncomfortable light on the fate of thousands of Italians killed in massacres on the Yugoslav frontier at the end of the Second World War.

“Red Land – Rosso Istria” recounts events that for decades were only commemorated by neofascists, showing that things were not as black and white as previously thought and provoking a wave of reactions on social media.

From 1943 to 1947, between 5,000 and 10,000 Italians were murdered in the region around Trieste, on today’s border with Slovenia, as it was reconquered by Tito’s Yugoslav partisans, with victims often thrown alive into deep sinkholes known as “foibe”.

Another 250,000 people fled their homes.

What began as a “cleansing” of police and civil servants associated with the fascist regime by Yugoslav and Italian partisans later became the systematic murder of Italians.

Immediately after the war, Italy wanted to turn the page on its fascist history and the crimes committed by its forces in Yugoslavia as quickly as possible.

That meant that the massacres carried out by partisans were for years only commemorated by those nostalgic for Mussolini.

It was only in 2004 that the right-wing government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi initiated a national day of remembrance for the massacres.

In 2005, Italy awarded a posthumous medal to Norma Cossetto, a 23-year-old student and daughter of a local fascist official, who was raped, tortured and murdered by Yugoslav and Italian partisans in October 1943.

Her story “is a metaphor” for the fate of all the other victims of the massacres, the film’s producer Alessandro Centenaro told AFP.

The film recounts one of the partisans’ murder methods: prisoners would be shot in the head on the edge of a “foiba”, dragging others still living to whom they were tied to their deaths.

“Yes, Norma was killed because she was fascist. But also because she was a woman, educated and Italian,” Centenaro said.


“There are many sides to this story, like the character of Giorgio, the deserter who joins the Yugoslav partisans to get rid of the fascists and ends up a victim himself,” said the film’s Italian-Argentine director Maximiliano Hernando Bruno.

The film was premiered at this year’s Venice Film Festival and also screened this month at the Italian Senate, where it was hailed by politicians from left and right.

Comments on the film’s Facebook page hail the “powerful story”, which “finally does justice to the victims” and “shines a light on a truth that has been hidden for too long”, which “should be shown in all schools”.

But some Internet commentators have also accused the director of being fascist or revisionist.

Hernando Bruno dismisses such critics as “provocateurs who haven’t seen the film.”

Some say that the film is being “boycotted” because it has received little coverage in Italian media.


LOS ANGELES: Singaporean filmmaker, Yeo Siew Hua is to receive the Young Cinema Award at the upcoming Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Indian director and actress, Nandita Das will receive the FIAPF Award.

Yeo’s prize is awarded in recognition of his film “A Land Imagined”, which won the Golden Leopard prize at Locarno earlier this year. The prize is open to directors making their first or second narrative feature films, and is awarded by APSA, Network for the Promotion of Asia Pacific Cinema (NETPAC) and the Griffith Film School.

APSA described the film as a “well-scripted, deftly directed and beautifully-lensed thriller (that) vividly captures the dangers for and the loneliness of illegal workers against the background of Singapore’s controversial land reclamation project.”

The film’s Japanese director of photography Hideho Urata is also nominated for an APSA cinematography prize. The APSA Academy previously sponsored Yeo through a year-long mentorship program.

Previous Young Cinema award winners were director-producer Ilgar Najaf for his film “Pomegranate Orchard” (Azerbaijan) in 2017, and director Mustafa Kara for “Cold of Kalandar” (Turkey, Hungary). Both Yeo and Das’s prizes will be awarded on Nov 29 in Brisbane, Australia at the red carpet ceremony for the 12th edition of the APSAs.

Das will receive the FIAPF award for achievement in film in the Asia Pacific region. She is known for her acting roles in controversial “Fire” (1996) and “Earth” (1998) and later in “Between the Lines”, about gender inequality in middle class India. Her first film as director “Firaaq” appeared in 2008. Her second feature, “Manto” premiered in Un Certain Regard in Cannes this year and has been picked up by festivals including Sydney, Toronto and Busan. Its leading actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqi is also nominated for a performance prize at the APSAs.

“Nandita Das has made an extraordinary contribution to the cinema of Asia Pacific, both on-screen and off,” said President of FIAPF, Luis Alberto Scalella. “Her works as a director and as an actress met international recognition and her personal commitments in the public debate are reflected in the stories she chooses to bring to the screen.”

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