Italy Is Burning
Sep 11, 2012 | 592 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The 2003 screenings of Best of Youth remain one of the great happenings in Telluride Film Festival history. Without any stars and with almost no pre-screening buzz, the film—a six-hour epic following a family caught in the flow of 30-plus years of Italian history—became the festival’s hottest ticket. From that moment, the film grew into a minor phenomenon, with sold-out screenings in cities throughout the country.

Marco Tullio Giordana’s latest exploration of modern Italy revisits one of its defining moments of the last half century: a terrorist bombing of a bank in Milan and its aftermath, including enormous protests, counter-insurgent operations, the mysterious death of a suspect in custody, and years of cover-ups and tainted investigations. The impact of the bombing at Piazza Fontanta has been compared to that of the 9/11 bombings in the U.S.: a moment of lost innocence and the birth of an increasingly fragmented citizenry.

Giordana hopes his film can cleanse the national wound. “Today, more than 40 years later, the proof [of who was responsible] has finally become accessible, available to whoever wishes to know,” he writes. “The time has come to talk about it; to get it out into the open.” Michael Fitzgerald, who has produced films with John Huston, Bruce Beresford and Sean Penn, and who grew up in Italy, had one question for Giordana.

Michael Fitzgerald: Is there anything you would like to say to an American audience that might not be familiar with the events depicted in your film? What would be helpful for them to know about the events, their roots and the socio-political life of Italy in the 1960s?

Marco Tullio Giordana: I conceived the film for young people in Italy who know absolutely nothing of that time. The memory of the events depicted, which were immensely scandalous at the time, has vanished. The young Italian audience is in exactly the same position as any foreigner.

A film has to exist in its own context, rather like a message in a bottle. It cannot rely on what might be widely understood or it would, at best, be only understood in its country of origin. It must be able to convey the emotion of the time it inhabits to a stranger or a child. I always think I make my films for children, because they are the most intelligent and sophisticated audience and are not burdened by either prior knowledge or prejudice.


Italy, 2012, 129m

Director: Marco Tullio Giordana
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