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Memoria

A straightforward documentary record of the testimony of 90 of the 800 Italian Jews who survived the Holocaust, "Memoria" covers fairly well-worn territory, but the message it delivers is as important as ever. Serious TV networks should take a look. Between 1943 and 1945, 8,500 Italian Jews were deported to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. For several years, a foundation known as CDEC (Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea) has researched Jewish history in Italy, particularly the period of the Holocaust, and has published several books on the subject. This film is a kind of audiovisual record of the testimony of the survivors of those terrible years.

The men and women interviewed speak movingly about that grim period, many of them describing emotionally the last sight they had of their parents or other family members. Some interviews take place in Italian cities — Rome, Venice, Milan and Florence, in apartments or on the streets; others are conducted at Auschwitz itself. One woman recalls how next-door neighbors, who had been friends, simply ignored her family’s cries for help when Germans came to take them away. Another recalls how her family was turned away at the Swiss border, back into the clutches of the Germans. Many note they had never expected deportation, seeing themselves primarily as Italians, not Jews.

The cinematic technique for this moving record is modest, geared simply to the documentation of painful memories. Some of the material has been shot on video and transferred to film, and technical qualities are more than adequate.

Memoria

Italian

Production: A Forma Intl./CDEC production. (International sales: Forma Intl., Milan.) Produced by Elliot Malki. Directed by Ruggero Gabbai. Screenplay, Marcello Pezzetti, Liliana Picciotto Fargion.

Crew: Camera (color), Sefi Baruch, Nicolo Bongiorno; editor, Daniele Orsini; music, Mario Piacentini; sound, Ronberto Serra. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 19, 1997. Running time: 84 MIN.

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