Roberto Faenza • Director
Anita B., the importance of memory
Just a few days before the commemoration day for victims of the Nazis on 27 January, “Remembrance Day”, Roberto Faenza’s film based on Edith Bruck’s novel "Quanta stella c'è nel cielo", Anita B. [+see also:
film profile], is being released in cinemas. The film tells a post-Holocaust story – that of a Hungarian teenager who has survived Auschwitz, and who is welcomed in by her father’s sister in the mountains of Czechoslovakia, a stone’s throw away from Prague. The film is populated by an international cast: main character Eline Powell (Quartet [+see also:
film profile]) is accompanied by young Irish Robert Sheehan, star of television show Misfits,Moni Ovadia, Andrea Osvart, Antonio Cupo, Nico Mirallegro and Jane Alexander. Anita B., produced by Elda Ferri and Luigi Musini for Jean Vigo and Cinema Undici with Rai Cinema, was selected by the Jerusalem-based Yad Vashem Holocaust museum to mark the opening of Holocaust Remembrance Day. In Italy though, it is only coming out in 20 cinemas, distributed by Good Films.
“It seems offensive to me on behalf of spectators. Sector workers are frightened of this film. They are frightened it is a film on Auschwitz and have therefore decided to release it in less movie theatres, despite preexisting agreements,” the director said. “These people have the final say when it comes to films, but they should watch films before coming to a conclusion. I am relying on school teachers who are able to take children to the cinema.”
The film is actually set after World War II
It is not a film on concentration camps. It seeks to tell the post-Auschwitz story that few know. The return to everyday life of a young girl and the importance of memory. It therefore seeks a different exploration. This film is the perfect follow-up to my last film Prendimi l'anima: it is a journey towards the future for this young woman, who finds a kind of redemption after living through horror. This makes her Sabine Spielrein’s ideal inheritor, who goes from being Jung’s patient to playing the role of her own analyst.
After returning from the concentration camps, Anita discovers that no one wants to speak about the past.
Anita wants to remember the horror she underwent. She cannot forget her parents and she cannot understand those, including her aunt as well as many other Jewish people, who want to forget the Shoah. Everyone has the right to overcome their own traumas, but I cannot ignore this country’s reality, which has lost its memory, including when it comes to very recent facts.
How did you collaborate with the author of the novel, Edith Bruck?
Edith sent me her first 500-page screenplay, giving me the right to cut and change it. I remained faithful to Edith’s testimony, who came out of the camps with the candor and joy for life of a 14-year-old. I am no Judaism expert, I actually went to a Jesuit school. You can’t get much further removed than that! Moni Ovadia was the one to help me, introducing Yiddish into the film and the division between those who wanted to go to Palestine, towards the nascent state of Israel and those who wanted to return to those European countries they had near been eradicated from.
The character of Anita’s friend and coworker went from being a girl in the book, to a boy in the film.
Films are not born in theory, but in practice. I couldn’t find the girl described by Bruck, so I changed sexes. The book describes the organizer of the Palestine trip as a man. To compensate, I made him into a woman, with a gun on her belt.
(Translated from Italian)
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