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Memoria e Ricerca

The Holocaust Memory and the Nazi Concentration Camps Experiences in Liliana Cavani’s TV Documentaries (1961-1965)

di Damiano Garofalo
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 46 (2014), p. 193

Liliana Cavani is well-known as the director of the controversial Holocaust film The Night Porter (1974), which inspires the birth of the new cinematographical genre of Nazisexploitation. In order to trace Cavani’s interest on the Holocaust theme we have to come back to the early 60’s, when the young director starts working for the national broadcasting television RAI. In the five years between 1961 and 1965, in fact, Lilian Cavani directs three documentary films: a four-episodes serie called History of the Third Reich (1961-1962); a documentary about the divided World War II memories between two generations in post-war Europe, The Day of the Peace (1965); finally, The Woman in the Resistance (1965), a film about the role of Italian women during the Partisan struggle, where she also interviews several Jewish Italian women who were deported between 1943 and 1945. Each one of these productions has different and specific modalities of dealing with the Holocaust memory. But the relevance of these films lays in the fact that they represent the first attempt of the Italian television to deal with the memory of the Holocaust, and this happens through the screening of both audiovisual and oral sources. Until then, no previous visual expressions have described the Italian responsability in the deportation of thousands of Italian Jews. The paper is structured by using several kind of sources: audiovisual archives, production and distribution strategies, an original interview to Liliana Cavani about her early carreer.