Italian video of Monte Sole (Marzabotto) 25 April 2007, commemoration of the anti fascist partisan fighters of the Brigata Stella Rossa. Music: Bella Ciao.
From Italian news agency ANSA:
Spike Lee to make WWII film
US director to film story of Buffalo Soldiers, Nazi massacre
Rome, July 3 – Acclaimed US director Spike Lee is to make a film blending the experiences of the Second World War Afro-American ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ with a little-known massacre that took place in a Tuscan village.
Presenting the film in Rome Tuesday, Lee said: “I’ve always loved spending time in Italy. I was just waiting for a great story to tell, and I came across this fantastic book based on real events still in the collective consciousness”.
The film has the working title Miracle at Sant’Anna, the same as the 2002 book by bestselling African-American novelist James McBride on which it is based.
Lee is still writing the screenplay with McBride and filming is scheduled to start in early 2008 in Tuscany with a 45-million-dollar budget and an all-star cast.
The director, who has charted multiple aspects of the African-American experience since his debut in the mid-1980s, said he was eager to tell the world about the segregated black soldiers who took on a crack SS Panzer division in western Italy.
“If we look at Hollywood productions we scarcely find a trace of the exploits of our soldiers of colour in the Second World War,” Lee said, flanked by a veteran of the 370th Buffalo Soldiers regiment, 83-year-old William Perry.
“William was only 19 when he went to fight against the Nazis, proving his bravery. And he risked being lynched back home,” Lee said.
Perry said: “I felt better and had more freedom in Italy than back in the US”. “But I am no hero. The heroes are those who are buried in the American cemetery in Florence”.
Former partisan Moreno Costa recalled how the Italian Resistance helped the Buffalo Soldiers break through the German lines in the coastal area of Tuscany in 1944 – despite ferocious SS tactics exemplified in the murder of the village’s 560 men, women and children. A survivor of the massacre, Enrico Pieri, was visibly moved as he told the press conference: “I didn’t want to talk about this any more but now I have forgiven the German people and I hope this director can do a good job so that no one will forget what happened at Sant’Anna”.
Pieri lost his father, pregnant mother and two younger sisters in the massacre.
McBride was asked, “What is the real miracle of Sant’Anna?” He replied: “Getting together after 60 years, talking it over and deciding to finally give a voice to those who have never been heard from”.
In McBride’s book, toward the end of World War II, four Buffalo Soldiers from the army’s Negro 92nd Division find themselves separated from their unit and behind enemy lines. Risking their lives for a country in which they are treated with less respect than the enemy they are fighting, they discover humanity in St. Anna di Stazzema – in the peasants who shelter them and in the affection of an orphaned child. “Even in the face of unspeakable tragedy they – and we – learn to see the small miracles of life,” according to the book’s publishers.
Italy recently asked Germany to arrest and extradite three ex-Nazis sentenced to life last year for their part in the massacre.
The three were convicted in absentia along with seven others in command of an SS division which machine-gunned and burned Sant’Anna di Stazzema, near Lucca, on August 12, 1944. Of the 560 people killed, 116 were children – the youngest only four months old.
Five of the original ten, who were all in their 80s when convicted, are appealing their sentence while two have died.
The extradition requests are unlikely to be granted, legal experts say.
Spike Lee gets in Clint Eastwood’s line of fire about World War II films: here.
British West Indians and World War II: here.
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