Using a 1995 Liberation Day concert with a lineup of some of Italy’s top alternative bands as their starting point, filmmakers Guido Chiesa and Davide Ferrario take in 50 years of anti-fascism in “Bella Ciao.” A loosely structured collage giving voice to World War II Resistance fighters and their leftist descendants among contemporary Italo youth, this skillfully edited mix of music, interviews and archive footage could find limited exposure in TV docu forums, especially those with a political focus.
Freedom anthems performed by bands including Ustmano, Mau Mau, Modena City Ramblers and Yo Yo Mundi are intercut with comments from former partisans, who stress the importance of remembering the war and its millions of deaths. Younger concertgoers express their views of fascism and its resurgence in Italy’s new right.
Addressing the attraction the neofascist movements hold for today’s unemployed, aimless youth, the docu points to their lack of political convictions or awareness concerning the true nature of the fascist campaign of WWII. Oldsters who lived through fascism the first time express their fears regarding its return. The push to reconcile with fascists of the past provokes anger from interviewees whose parents were shot by Black Shirts.
Some comments on the extinction of the rebellious youth spirit of the 1970s seem to underline the distance between generations and their ways of manifesting political beliefs. But the gulf is bridged when an elderly partisan who was released and cleared of all charges after serving a long prison sentence addresses the warmly receptive concert audience.
Archive footage of political rallies, occupied cities, anti-Jewish slogans and labor camps is intelligently used, and a good sense of economy is at work in the use of musical interludes. Film’s international title comes from the popular partisan song of that name.