sreda, februar 09, 2005

Controversial film hits Italian TV

The film Il cuore nel pozzo (Heart in a Pit) premiered on Italian state television RAI in two parts, on 7 and 8 February, provoking protests in Slovenia and among ethnic Slovenes in and around Trieste (Trst).

The film deals with an Italian family living in World War Two-era Istria. Slovene veterans, among others, are alleging that Italians are trying to rewrite history in order to make themselves look like innocent victims and to cast the Yugoslav forces as vicious killers.

Prior to the war, the littoral region around Trieste (today part of Italy), the present-day Slovene region of Primorska as well as territories in Istria and Dalmatia that are now held by Croatia. Prior to WWII, the area was heavily ethnically mixed, with Slovenes, Croats and Italians living virtually side by side. There were problems, however, which came to the fore during the war: Italy occupied the parts of the region hitherto held by Yugoslavia and began a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Communist Yugoslav forces, called Partizans, fought back and engaged in ethnic cleansing of their own. The results of the campaign are the numerous "fojbe," or mass graves, that now dot the region’s landscape (the pit referred to in the title of the film is a reference to one such fojba). The Communists continued to fill fojbe even after the end of the conflict, compounding the problems that are only beginning to be dealt with in recent years.

During the war, some Slovenes sided with the Italian Fascists while some Italians sided with the Yugoslav Communist Partizans, but none of this is presented in the film. Rather, there is no mention in the film of fascism at all, while the Partizan forces are composed entirely of bloodthirsty Slavs.

On 6 February, Slovene veterans held a memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers of a 1945 attack on the village of Boršt by the Italian army, which at that time was occupying a large swath of Slovene territory. The ceremony also featured protests against Il coure nel pozzo. Association of Veterans of the National Struggle for Liberation head, Janez Stanovnik, said that the film was based more on science fiction rather than on truth [SN / 06.02.05 / Slovenian Veterans Decry Italian War Film].

The Association of Anti-Fascists, Fighters and Participants in the National Liberation Struggle held a press conference in Koper on 2 February in which representatives stressed that the film presents a distorted, one-sided view of a very complicated time. Similar organizations from Trieste and Istria have also joined in the public outcry. [Večer / 07.02.05 / Na RAI sporni film Srce v breznu].