DENUNCIA: Speaking Up in Modern Italy

Denuncia in Documentary: Two Film Screenings

Posted in Documentary Film Festival by nyudenuncia on February 27, 2009

In the last few weeks leading up to the Conference, two documentary films will be screened at NYU’s Casa Italiana.  Like Maccioni’s Stato di eccezione which was presented by Valeria Castelli in late January at the Casa Italiana, these documentaries’ themes are linked to the problematic of the Italian Graduate Student Association’s conference of Denuncia. Ph.D. students from the Department of Italian Studies will introduce each film.

The schedule is as follows:

March 3 at 6pm: Improvvisamente l’inverno scorso  (Suddenly, Last Winter)   improvvisamente

(2008, 80 min, In English and Italian with English subtitles)

By Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi

Beginning with the proposal of DiCo, a law intended to grant civil partnerships to homosexual as well as heterosexual couples, this film documents the reactions of public and political opinion across Italy and in the Church. Told with both lightness and solemnity from the perspectives of Gustav and Luca and their relationship, the documentary reveals a homophobic impulse that surprises even the directors themselves.

The film will be presented by Alessandra Montalbano.

March 12 at 6pm:  Viva Zapatero! 

(2005, 80 min, In English and Italian with English subtitles)

By Sabina Guzzantizapatero1

In this documentary film, Sabina Guzzanti chronicles her conflict with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi over her political satire show, Raiot, broadcasted on RAI-3 in November 2003. The show was canceled after the first episode in which Guzzanti criticized Berlusconi’s media empire. The comedian was later sued for 20 million euros. Her documentary comments on the limited freedom of speech, censorship and information control in Italy.

The film will be presented by Jonathan Mullins.

Those participating in the Conference from the New York/tri-state area are urged to attend the screenings. There will be a discussion after each screening with NYU Italian Studies graduate students.


Maccioni’s “Lo stato di eccezione. Processo per Monte Sole 62 anni dopo” (2007).

Posted in Documentary Film Festival by nyudenuncia on January 30, 2009

locandina1As part of the Casa Italiana’s programming for the Giorno della Memoria, Germano Maccioni’s Lo stato di eccezione was shown on January 28th.  The film was also the first screening of the Denuncia Documentary Film Festival (stay tuned for details on future showings in late February and March). The director, Germano Maccioni, was present for the screening and answered questions from the audience.

Lo stato di eccezione. Processo per Monte Sole 62 anni dopo was made in 2007 for the Regione Emilia Romagna. It has already been presented to important Italian film festivals, like Venice, and has won the Jury Special Prize at the “Libero Bizzarri” Festival in 2008.

An extraordinary documentary, Maccioni’s Lo stato di eccezione records the trial against 17 ex-SS German soldiers held in the Military Court of La Spezia between 2006 and 2007. These soldiers were accused for bringing about the 1944 Monte Sole Massacre, which took place 10 miles South of Bologna along the Gothic Line. German soldiers, lead by Walter Reder and aided by Italian Fascists, killed 770 people. Among them there were children, elders, and women. The massacre was carried out in over 100 locations, where houses, churches, roads, livestock were burnt down together with the victims. The communities of three small towns, Marzabotto, Monzuno and Grizzana, were completely destroyed and entire families were annihilated. Should we exclude the final solution inflicted upon the Jews, we could say that the Monte Sole massacre constituted the biggest extermination of civilians perpetrated by the Nazi troops in Italy and Western Europe. Not only its massive proportion, but also the brutality, the ferocity that drove the German soldiers to indiscriminately kill children, seniors, women and to transform those territories in a “macelleria” (a butchery) as survivors would repeatedly describe them, characterized this massacre.

The title of Maccioni’s documentary film has different meanings. First of all, it refers to Giorgio Agamben’s well known Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and the Bare Life, where a state of exception is defined by the “suspension of the juridical order”. The title also refers to the “exception” of no trial conducted against the soldiers responsible for such a massacre from the end of World War II until this trial in La Spezia. Only Walter Reder was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1951 by the Bologna Military Court and then released in 1985 because of the intercession of the Austrian government. However, there is also another “exception”: 695 trial files hidden for decades in the so-called armadio della vergogna (“the closet of shame”) at the Military Court of Rome, which also contained information related to ex-SS criminals involved in the Monte Sole massacre. Finally, the absence of all 17 defendants accused of aggravated assault and murder is the exception of such a trial, which took place in absentia.

The necessity of securing a judgment shapes the survivors’ narration in their role of “superstiti”, survivors, and “supertestes,” in its Latin meaning, as people who have experienced an event and can bear witness to it. Therefore, in the context of the trial, memory becomes a means for the acquisition of facts and the decision of a legal judgment. The survivors’ language makes clear how painful this operation becomes. Not only does their use of dialect clash against the precise judicial language of the court, but the trauma of recollecting such tragic events after more than sixty years becomes palpable. Indeed, the survivors’ lives are still affected by the memory of the events that hurt and shocked them irreparably. Maccioni’s camera eye records their eyes still filled with the horror they witnessed and felt in front of the Nazis’ indiscriminate violence, whose aim was not “simply” to kill, but rather to de-humanize their victims. Maccioni’s documentary constitutes a testament to the victims’ memory; it records and empowers the survivors’ voices, while also denouncing the attempts to suppress the legal evidence about these war crimes and the much-delayed legal process.


Interview with Germano Maccioni:

Website of the film:

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Lodging Information in New York

Posted in Conference Information by nyudenuncia on January 24, 2009

We are recommending the following places to stay in New York.  Please book as soon as possible given the scarcity and expense of finding a hotel in New York.

Greenwich Hotel

636 Greenwich Street. Telephone (212) 443-4700.  The hotel is a student-style dormitory. Linens are provided. $45 for a shared bedroom with a shared bathroom. $65 for a private bedroom in a shared suite with a shared bathroom. You can make reservations yourself according to your travel plans by calling the telephone number given. This has been preferred choice of past IGSA conference participants.

Chelsea International Hostel

251 West 20th Street. (212) 647-0010. A good choice in a great location.  Dormitory-style beds are $36 with bathroom and private rooms are $80 (with a maximum of two occupants).

Hotel 17:

225 E 17th St. (212) 475-2845.  A more expensive option to the east of Union Square with lots of charm. ‎A recent check returned a $135 rate for the nights of the conference.

Paul Ginsborg, renowned historian, named keynote speaker.

Posted in Conference Information by nyudenuncia on December 10, 2008
Paul Ginsborg

Originally uploaded by *Luana*

Paul Ginsborg, Professor of European History at the University of Florence, has agreed to deliver the keynote speech for Denuncia: Speaking Up in Modern Italy.

Professor Ginsborg is the author of the following books:


  • Daniele Manin e la rivoluzione veneziana del 1848 – 49 (Feltrinelli 1978)
  • Storia d’Italia dal dopoguerra a oggi. Società e politica 1943-1988 (Einaudi 1989)
  • Dialogo su Berlinguer, con Massimo D’Alema (Giunti 1994)
  • L’Italia del tempo presente. Famiglia, società civile, Stato 1980-1996 (Einaudi 1998)
  • Berlusconi. Ambizioni patrimoniali in una democrazia mediatica (Einaudi 2003)
  • Il tempo di cambiare. Politica e potere della vita quotidiana (Einaudi 2004)
  • La Democrazia che non c’è (Einaudi2006
  • In 2006 Professor Ginsborg received the Serena medal for his work on Italian History. Ginsborg is a prominent figure in the anti-Berlusconi struggles today in Italy. His 2003 biography of Berlusconi was a best seller.  In their award to Ginsborg, the British Academny called Ginsborg “a public figure as well as a definitive historical interpreter”, exclaiming:

    “In a country overflowing with contemporary historians, expressing every possible political position, there is near-unanimity (except on the fringes) about the force of Ginsborg’s analyses; he is one of the most dominant figures in the field.”

    We are incredibly honored that Professor Ginsborg has agreed to come to New York to anchor our conference.

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    Call for Papers

    Posted in Conference Information by nyudenuncia on December 9, 2008



    Io so. Io so i nomi dei responsabili di quello che viene chiamato golpe (e che in realtà è una serie di golpes istituitasi a sistema di protezione del potere). Io so i nomi dei responsabili della strage di Milano del 12 dicembre 1969. Io so i nomi dei responsabili delle stragi di Brescia e di Bologna dei primi mesi del 1974. […] Io so. Ma non ho le prove. Non ho nemmeno indizi.
    Io so perché sono un intellettuale, uno scrittore, che cerca di seguire tutto ciò che succede, di conoscere tutto ciò che se ne scrive, di immaginare tutto ciò che non si sa o che si tace.

    –Pier Paolo Pasolini, “Che cos’è questo golpe?,” Corriere della Sera, 14 Novembre 1974

    Mi avvicinai a questo quadrato con al centro due lastre di marmo bianco, piccole, e vidi la tomba. “Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975).” […] Mi sembrò d’essere meno solo, e lì iniziai a biascicare la mia rabbia, con i pugni stretti sino a far entrare le unghie nella carne del palmo. Iniziai a articolare il mio io so, l’io so del mio tempo. Io so e ho le prove. Io so come hanno origine le economie e dove prendono l’odore. L’odore dell’affermazione e della vittoria. Io so cosa trasuda il profitto. Io so. E la verità della parola non fa prigionieri perché tutto divora e di tutto fa prova. 

    –Roberto Saviano, Gomorra, 2006

    To denounce the injustices of his own time, Saviano revives Pasolini’s words of dissent: “Io so.” This is a claim to knowledge positioning its speaker in an antagonistic relation with the established order. What kind of knowledge does this “io” know? Does denuncia implicitly invoke a collective “we”? Why does it seem that the only way to comment on Italian civil society is through singular voices breaking the silence of the status quo? When do these voices emerge and what is so politically and culturally urgent about their utterance? Does the denuncia in some way strand its speaker, leaving it without recourse to civil or legal redress? How do these denunciations affect and impact the public sphere? How does the institutional order respond, in some cases co-opting or censoring these interventions?

    As an interrogation into the dynamics of power, denuncia adopts various registers of protest: opposition, disapproval, critique, condemnation, activism. From an interdisciplinary perspective, this conference will attempt to understand the place of denuncia in Italian leftist political culture and how it is articulated through a variety of media: press, radio, television, internet, books, films, documentaries, photography, cartoons, music, and so forth. While we will focus on modern Italy from the unification to the present, we welcome papers that are transnational and trans-historical in scope.

    Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

    Fields of denuncia

    corruption, bourgeois conformism, policies of migration/immigration, racism,  patriarchy, organized crime, neo-conservativism and neo-fascism, globalization, terrorism, environmental concerns, workers’ conditions, church-state relations, real estate speculation, censorship…

    Voices and Forms of denuncia:

    satire, journalism, literature, film and other forms of visual culture (including graphic art, photography, and performance), music, theater, urban studies, philosophy…

    intellectuals, student movements, anti-war organizations, queer and feminist politics, centri sociali, associations, inchieste, unions, magistrates, demonstrations, strikes, occupations…

    Historically articulated denuncia:

    Unification of Italy, First World War, Fascism, Second World War and the Resistance, Post-War Italy, Marshall Plan and the Cold War, 1960’s Economic Boom, ‘68, Anni di Piombo, the 1980’s and media privatization, Tangentopoli, Berlusconi’s contemporary Italy…

    A 250-word abstract and cover letter with name, academic affiliation and contact information should be sent by Monday, January 5, 2009 via email to the Conference Committee at:




    Or via post to:

    Italian Graduate Student Association

    Casa Italiana-Zerilli Marimò

    24 West 12th Street New York, NY 10011

    Attn: Conference Committee

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