Spike Lee's film angers Italian WWII partisans
A branch of Italy's main partisan association ANPI said it would picket a screening of "The Miracle at St. Anna’ because of the ‘historical lies’ it contained.
Rome -- Italian anti-Fascist resistance veterans have reacted angrily to Spike Lee's film Miracle at St. Anna, which deals with the exploits of black US soldiers in Italy during World War II but also with a massacre of civilians committed by Nazi troops.
On Tuesday, a branch of Italy's main partisan association ANPI said it would picket a screening of the film because of the "historical lies" it contained.
ANPI militants would also distribute pamphlets at the screening scheduled for Wednesday in the Tuscan city of Viareggio to protest the "offence against the Resistance."
At issue is Lee's portrayal of a fictional resistance fighter-turned Nazi collaborator.
The character, Rodolfo, is shown through his treachery as having had a hand in the real-life 1944 Nazi massacre of some 560 civilians in the Tuscan town of Sant'Anna di Stazzema.
Lee attended a press screening of the film in Rome on Monday together with the script-writer James McBride, and later they both fielded questions, many of which revolved around the controversy.
"I am very sorry if I have offended the partisans," said McBride, adding that as a Black American "we understand what it's like for someone to tell your history, and they are not you."
Lee however, was more defiant. "I am not apologizing for anything," the US director said. "I think these questions are evidence that there is still a lot about your history during the war that you (Italians) have got to come to grips with."
Veteran Italian director Mario Monicelli said that while a resistance fighter turning traitor was "not implausible," he questioned Lee's motives.
"Why invent this story and for what purpose?" he asked.
The film, which is being screened at cinemas throughout Italy beginning Friday, is likely to spark more debate in a country where the World War II period continues to be a bitter, dividing issue.
The center-left has for years extolled the virtues of the partisans, who took up arms against the Nazis who occupied Italy following the dismissal of Fascist-dictator Benito Mussolini in 1943 by King Victor Emmanuel III.
But many on the right share the sentiments recently expressed by Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa, who said respect was also due to those Italians who continued to fight alongside Nazi Germany, in the belief that they were doing so for the good of their country.