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Memory of a massacre, director Federica Pontari recounts her latest masterpiece



Federica Pontari is the director of Memoria di una massacre, a film that promises to tell the story of the Rizziconi massacre, an event on which too little light has always been shed.

By launching a crowfunding campaign, funds are sought to finance a work that aims to tell something new through the scheme of love capable of overcoming oblivion. To talk about it, we heard exclusively from the director of the opera, Federica Pontari in fact.

How was born the memory of a planned massacre?

“The idea for the project comes from a book by historian Antonino Catananti Teramo, The landing on the continent: the German bombardment of September 6, 1943, of which the film is the adaptation. The book deals with the landing of the allies in southern Italy, from which the Liberation began. In this context, the Rizziconi massacre is a special case, because it was the only Nazi attack in Calabria”.

Massacre less known than the others, why?

“This massacre has been forgotten due to the scarcity of testimonies and documentation. The work of the author of the book was to reconstruct not only the facts, but also the memory of the 17 victims, through photographs and drawings. In the same way, the film aims to reconstruct the lives of the victims of the massacre, so that it can be, not only a film, but also a historical document, not to be forgotten”.

Can you tell us what exactly happened?

“The Anglo-Canadians landed in southern Italy, provoking numerous bombardments to liberate the country. At that time, Rizziconi was occupied by the Nazi Germans who, with the arrival of the Anglo-Canadians, withdrew from the town to take up position nearby, in the plain of Gioia Tauro. At that time, the Rizziconesi thought they could avoid being bombarded by the Americans by hoisting a white flag on the bell tower, a symbol of surrender. The retreating Nazis saw this flag and interpreted it as a sign of treason: they believed that the Anglo-Canadians had arrived at Rizziconi. For this reason, the Nazis began to bombard the country, and for this reason the Rizziconers lost their lives, 17 civilian casualties and 23 wounded”.

Does the film recount all the historical facts or are there fictional additions?

“The film traces the historical facts and follows the events of the characters, in particular the victims of the massacre. But this is not a chronicle, I wanted to deepen the story to understand and restore the theme it represents: the human relationships of which it was made up and the possibility, inherent in the story, that the massacre did not never took place, because it should not have taken place: the massacre is that it was just an error in history”.

Federica Ponte tells her story: all about her project

Can you tell us about the casting?

“The cast is made up of leading Calabrian actors: starting with Costantino Comito, who will play the protagonist Don Riso, a real character who stayed at Rizziconi during the bombardment to help survivors and recover bodies. The film starts from an interview that the writer Catananti himself, played by Paolo Mauro, does with a survivor, in order to write the book. The survivor will be played by Saverio Malara, who wants to reclaim forgotten history, especially that of his fellow citizens. Followed by Annamaria de Luca, whose character is a reinterpretation of Anna Magnani in Rome, open city, throwing herself into the arms of her son believed to be dead at the front and who instead will lose to Rizziconi, during the massacre. Renata Falcone, will play nurse Lisa who forced the doctor to wake up to his sense of mission and stay during the bombardment to tend to the wounded. Finally Paola Rubino, who will play Emilia, who follows her childhood cousins ​​Giuseppina Mariarosa, who will be brutally cut by shrapnel during the massacre”.

Project born with crowdfunding, how does it work to make a donation and what are the objectives?

“As a cultural association, we have chosen the crowdfunding formula for fundraising, necessary for the production of the film. But beyond that we have many other resources, including 50% of the needs of the film covered, a co-production and also the patronage of the metropolitan city of Reggio Calabria, the region, the municipality of Rizziconi, Anpi and the Lions. Crowdfunding will help us cover the extra expenses.”

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