Uffizi ‘Apriti’ Free Cinema: The Liberation of Italy

The Apriti Cinema series at the Piazzale degli Uffizi will dedicate its screenings from August 3 to August 11 to the anniversary of the liberation of both Florence in particular and Italy at large during World War II.

On the morning of August 4 of 1944, German artillery obliterated Florence’s bridges by setting off mine, among them Ponte alla Carraia and the Ponte Santa Trinita, leaving only Ponte Vecchio somehow untouched. These bombings, however, foreshadowed the brutal battle for the liberation of Florence a week later on August 11. That date is now celebrated throughout Florence every summer as a date of freedom and deliverance for the city.

The nine films planned for the week – Chronicle of Poor Lovers (1953), Rome Open City (1945), The Reconstruction of the Santa Trinita Bridge in Florence (1958), Everybody Go Home (1960), We All Loved Each Other So Much (1974), The Man Who Will Come (2009), Attention! Bandits! (1951), The Night of San Lorenzo (1982), and Paisan (1946) – highlight both the trials of wartime living and the triumph of the Italian people during the Second World War. All films are free to the public (though subject to available seating) and subtitled in English.

The film schedule is as follows:

Friday, August 3: Chronicle of Poor Lovers (Lizzani, 1953) – 10 pm

Based on the novel written by Vasco Pratolini, Chronicle of Poor Lovers tells the story of Florentine typographer Mario and his girlfriend Bianca in 1925. Upon falling in with a group of anti-fascists, Mario’s love life takes a turn for the theatrical as he encounters eccentric and electrifying characters. Chronicles of Poor Lovers is a quiet, deliberate portrait of the everyday life in all its complexity, highlighted by the neo-realist tension of pre-war Italy.

Saturday, August 4: Rome Open City (Rossellini, 1945) – 10 pm

Rome Open City zeroes in on occupied Rome in 1944. Engineer and Resistance member Giorgio Manfredi must deliver a package to a partisan operation outside of Rome, and in doing so Manfredi’s story becomes intertwined with those of the pregnant Pina, a widow now engaged to a Resistance man, and Don Pietro, a parish priest of the Roman suburbs. Empathetic, sharp, and poignant, Rome Open City celebrates the dignity and dedication of the Italian people during World War II.

Sunday, August 5: The Reconstruction of the Santa Trinita Bridge in Florence (Melani & Seeber, 1958) – 10 pm

A documentary that chronicles the reconstruction of the Ponte di Santa Trinita, Melani and Seeber’s film focuses on the emotional impact of the destruction of a beloved landmark on the Florentine populace. Shot during the phases of the bridge’s design and reconstruction, The Reconstruction of the Santa Trinita Bridge in Florence is unflinching, earnest, and a gem of a historical find.

Monday, August 6: Everybody Go Home (Comencini, 1960) – 10 pm

Everybody Go Home is a comedy-drama film in which Alberto Innocenzi of the Royal Italian Army finds unlikely allies in a sergeant and an army engineer as he embarks on a disaster-ridden odyssey after being told to go home by former allies of the Wehrmacht.

Tuesday, August 7: We All Loved Each Other So Much (Scola, 1974) – 10 pm

Shot both in black-and-white and in color, We All Loved Each Other So Much follows a trio of friends – Gianni, Antonio, and Nicola – as they fight against the fascist Nazi occupiers and then after the liberation of Italy. The film documents their lives as their paths diverge and then re-converge several years later, laced with the humor, nostalgia, and melancholy of young adulthood.

Wednesday, August 8: The Man Who Will Come (Diritti, 2009) – 10 pm

A small indie film produced only nine years ago, The Man Who Will Come juxtaposes wartime brutality with the gentility of agrarian life. Diritti’s film is set in the Bolognese Apennines and revolves around the pregnancy of a woman named Lena and the life of her mute 8-year-old daughter, Martina, who both bear witness to and become victims of the Marzabotto Massacre.

Thursday, August 9: Attention! Bandits! (Lizzani, 1951) – 10 pm

Attention! Bandits! chronicles the conflict between clandestine partisan sects in Genoa and Liguria and the guerrilla factories in the nearby mountains in the middle of World War II. The factory, in actuality occupied by the Germans, becomes a prison as a group of partisans launches a raid to collect weapons; instead, the partisans and the factory workers form an alliance against the Nazi occupationists. Dramatic, heartfelt, and suspenseful, Attention! Bandits! brings the classicism of film drama to a smaller story within the larger narrative of World War II.

Friday, August 10: The Night of San Lorenzo, or, The Night of the Shooting Stars (Taviani, 1982) – 10 pm

As the Germans retreat from encroaching Allied forces in the summer of 1944, the tiny town of San Martino is smack in the path of destruction that the Nazis leave in their wake. By combining elements of fantasy, melodrama, tragedy, and vaudeville, Taviani crafts a hauntingly beautiful film about the townspeople’s faith and desperation.

Saturday, August 11: Paisan (Rossellini, 1946) – 11 pm (time subject to change)

Formatted as a six-part episode collection, Paisan takes place during the Italian Campaign in World War II and focuses on six separate – but related – storylines. A Sicilian girl guides an American patrol; a scientist robs an American military officer; a prostitute and an American soldier find each other; an artist-turned-resistance-fighter wages war; a collection of chaplains find solace in a deserted convent; and the Americans and partisans collaborate against Nazi fascists. (claire francis)