Spike Lee makes film on nazi massacre in Italy


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.

LANDMARK TRIAL.

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.

16 thoughts on “Spike Lee makes film on nazi massacre in Italy

  1. Lee asks dead greats to bless film
    US director invokes neo- Realist legends for WWII movie

    (ANSA) – Fiesole, July 9 – Spike Lee on Monday invoked the ghosts of Italian neo-Realist greats Vittorio De Sica, Cesare Zavattini and Roberto Rossellini to ‘bless’ the film he is set to shoot in Italy next year.

    Speaking at the Fiesole Film Fest, Lee said: “I call on the spirits of De Sica, Zavattini and Rossellini to help me”.

    “I hope they’re looking down kindly on me and the film”.

    Lee, who will receive a career achievement award here Tuesday night, added: “I’ve never tried to imitate any director in my work. I’m drawn to those who can tell good stories, because that’s what the cinema is for me: telling great stories”. Previous recipients of the Fiesole Masters prize include Ken Loach, Costa-Gavras, Aki Kaurismaki and Bernardo Bertolucci.

    Lee is currently scouting locations for his film, which blends the experiences of the Second World War Afro-American ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ with a Nazi massacre of Italian civilians that took place in a Tuscan village.

    Shooting is scheduled to begin next spring.

    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.

    The director, who has charted multiple aspects of the African-American experience since his debut in the mid-1980s, is 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 coloured soldiers in the Second World War,” Lee said. 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.

    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.

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  2. Lee film troops get authentic togs
    Fabric for Tuscan WWII drama found in Prato

    (ANSA) – Prato, October 5 – The period uniforms in Spike Lee’s new WWII Resistance drama are unusually perfect replicas of those worn by German and American forces at the time – thanks to a unique piece of Italy’s clothing heritage.

    “All the cloth for military uniforms in the ’40s was made in two places – England or Prato,” Massimo Bernocci of top Italian film costume supplier O.B. Stock said.

    “The original material can still be found in warehouses of Prato’s oldest firms – and we know where to find it”.

    Bernocci said O.B Stock – which provided costumes for Gladiator, Braveheart, Gangs of New York and Life is Beautiful – had been combing the back rooms of the “most traditional” wool mills in this Tuscan city, a European textile hub since the Middle Ages.

    “Only in Prato can you find the types of gabardine, flannel and worsted wool worn by the soldiers on both sides,” Bernocci said.

    New fabric identical to the old samples is now being stitched together for Lee’s film, after being treated to age it properly, he said.

    Lee is set to start work in mid-month on the film, which blends the experiences of Afro-American ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ with a Nazi massacre of Italian villagers.

    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.

    The director, who has charted multiple aspects of the African-American experience since his debut in the mid-1980s, is eager to tell the world about the segregated black soldiers who took on a crack SS Panzer division in western Italy.

    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.

    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.

    They discover humanity in St. Anna di Stazzema in the peasants who shelter them and in the affection of an orphaned child.

    Like

  3. 2007-11-08 13:48
    Nazi massacre sentence upheld

    Three ex- SS men see life terms confirmed for murder of 560

    (ANSA) – Rome, November 8 – Italy’s top court on Thursday upheld the convictions of three former SS officers sentenced in absentia to life for their part in one of Europe’s worst World War Two atrocities.

    The verdict was in some ways unexpected because the court’s prosecutor argued earlier this week that the three were only following orders – an argument that sparked a hail of protests.

    SS officer Gerhard Sommer, 86, and NCOs Georg Rauch, 86, and Karl Groper, 84, saw their 2006 sentences upheld.

    All three – along with another three convicted for the same crime in a separate trial – live in Germany. “We could not be happier after 63 years,” said Mauro Pieri, one of the very few villagers who survived the slaughter in the coastal Tuscan village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema in 1944.

    Pieri was a 12-year-old boy at the time of the Nazi reprisal that killed more than 500 people including his mother and younger brother.

    He survived because he was hidden under a mass of bodies.

    Pieri thanked the current mayor for his tenacity in pursuing the case through Italy’s complicated justice system until Thursday’s final pronouncement by the Cassation Court. The mayor, Michele Silicani, said “It’s unbelievable”.

    “We have won. Finally history can be passed on to the younger generation,” he said.

    The mayors of three other Italian villages waiting for final verdicts on WWII atrocities also voiced satisfaction.

    Rejecting the three former SS men’s appeal, the Cassation Court ordered them to pay court costs plus 4,000 for the victims’ families.

    In June Italy asked Germany to arrest and extradite three other ex-Nazis involved in the massacre but they are unlikely to be handed over. In advancing the request, La Spezia military prosecutor Marco De Paolis stressed the “fierce violence and lucid premeditation” of Heinrich Schendel, Werner Bruss and Ludwig Goering.

    The three were given jail terms along with seven others in command of an SS division which machine-gunned and burned the village near Lucca on August 12, 1944, killing 560 people including 116 children – the youngest only four months old.

    Five of the original ten, who were all in their 80s when convicted, appealed the 2005 sentence. Two others have since died.

    Goering, who has expressed regret for what happened, helped prosecutors build their case after being tracked down by investigators three years ago.

    De Paolis said the 2004-2005 trial was “the most important Italian trial into Nazi crimes”.

    The extradition requests are unlikely to be granted, legal experts say, because Germany rarely grants extradition to foreign countries, even of war criminals – while it frequently requests the extradition of criminals to Germany from other countries.

    American director Spike Lee is making a film based on the massacre and the experience of black American ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ who came into contact with the villagers.

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  4. Nato a Ravenna il 6 settembre 1915, morto a Ravenna il 22 gennaio 2008
    Medaglia d’Oro al Valor militare, Presidente onorario dell’ANPI.

    Arrigo Boldrini Le operazioni belliche erano ancora in corso quando,
    il 4 febbraio 1945, il generale Mac Creery, comandante dell’VIII
    Armata, appuntò sul petto del “comandante Bulow” (questo il nome di
    battaglia di Boldrini) la Medaglia d’Oro al Valor militare. La
    cerimonia si svolse sulla piazza di Ravenna liberata proprio dalle
    formazioni di Bulow, che da quel momento si sarebbero aggregate alle
    armate anglo-americane sino alla resa totale dei nazifascisti.
    Impossibile dire di Boldrini in poche righe, a cominciare
    dall’educazione all’amore per la libertà ricevuta dal padre, una
    popolare figura di internazionalista romagnolo, sino alle sue gesta
    nella Resistenza e sino all’attività politica e parlamentare nel
    dopoguerra. Ci hanno provato Silvia Saporelli e Fausto Pullano in un
    bel documentario presentato il 6 ottobre 1999 nella sala Zuccari di
    Palazzo Giustiniani. Erano presenti i Presidenti di Camera e Senato e
    seduto in prima fila c’era proprio “Bulow”, “un uomo di pace che –
    come ha sottolineato il Presidente Mancino – ha sempre onorato la
    Patria, il Parlamento e la sua parte politica”.
    Di Arrigo Boldrini, parlamentare per diverse legislature e presidente
    nazionale dell’ANPI, ha scritto a suo tempo Gian Carlo Pajetta: “È un
    eroe. Non è il soldato che ha compiuto un giorno un atto disperato,
    supremo, di valore. Non è un ufficiale che ha avuto un’idea geniale in
    una battaglia decisiva. È il compagno che ha fatto giorno per giorno
    il suo lavoro, il suo dovere; il partigiano che ha messo insieme il
    distaccamento, ne ha fatto una brigata, ha trovato le armi, ha
    raccolto gli uomini, li ha condotti, li conduce al fuoco”.
    Al 14° Congresso nazionale dell’ANPI – che si è tenuto a Chianciano
    Terme dal 24 al 26 febbraio 2006 – per la prima volta dalla
    costituzione dell’Associazione che ha sempre guidato, non era
    presente, “Bulow”. Motivi di salute gli hanno impedito di partecipare
    all’assemblea che, con una “standing ovation”, ha acclamato Arrigo
    Boldrini Presidente onorario. Presidente è poi stato eletto Tino
    Casali, già Vice Presidente vicario.

    Like

  5. Pordenone, il sogno di Egidio Cozzi, 80 anni, era di essere salutato
    col canto dei partigiani. Ma in questa storia da Peppone e don Camillo
    si è messo di mezzo il parroco, che ha vietato la banda
    Se c’era una cosa di cui andava fiero il signor Egidio Cozzi, 80 anni,
    era di essere stato partigiano. E così, quando il vecchio partigiano
    è passato a miglior vita, la famiglia ha pensato di salutarlo da par
    suo, facendo cantare l’inno-simbolo della resistenza ai funerali,
    ‘Bella ciao’.
    Era proprio un suo desiderio, una cosa che ripeteva spesso negli
    ultimi anni.
    Ma la trovata non è piaciuta per nulla al parroco di Castelnuovo del
    Friuli (Pordenone), roccaforte partigiana del Tagliamento. Don Renato
    D’Aronco, non ha voluto sentir ragioni, e ha rifiutato di ospitare
    nella sua chiesa la banda che avrebbe dovuto intonare il canto dei
    partigiani.
    La famiglia non ha certo abbozzato: “Non vuole Bella ciao? Niente
    funerale religioso”. E così l’addio a Egidio Cozzi è stato fatto con
    rito civile. Ovviamente la banda ha potuto eseguire la tanto amata
    `Bella Ciao’, e anche tutte le canzoni patriottiche care all’anziano
    partigiano.
    P.S.
    Buon viaggio compagno Egidio!
    dove sei ora sarà sicuramente molto meglio che qua in Italia con i
    fascisti al governo!
    MIRCO

    Like

  6. la strada che conduce
    a quei giorni lontani di smeraldo
    dove sostammo come creduli ragazzi
    a creare coi sogni nelle vene
    fantasie di speranze e di parole
    fra pugni di “canaglie in armi”
    Forse potrei dimenticare il giogo
    che mi lega all’arco dei rimpianti
    se soltanto le voci dei compagni
    tornassero a cantare
    come quando la vita dilagava
    e tu portavi alla gioia di tutti
    il tuo sorriso di fanciullo
    e la forza serena dei tuoi occhi
    Ma anche se il tempo non ricama
    che fili d’ombra sulla memoria
    e il tormento di quel assurdo giorno
    quando attoniti restammo
    davanti alla pietà della tua forca
    è pur sempre l’ora della tua lotta
    del tuo caldo vento di libertà
    immenso come grembi di colombe
    in volo fra fiori d’acquadiluna
    Tu solo amico adesso
    puoi scegliere i ritorni
    e dirci ancora
    col battito delle tue ali
    le bellezze della vita
    e le dolci innocenze della morte.

    Like

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