Memoria: A Documentary
Memoria was first screened at Centro Primo Levi in 1998 at the Tishman Auditorium at the New School.
A documentary film directed by Ruggero Gabbai and written by historians Marcello Pezzetti and Liana Picciotto Fargion. Presented by the Centro Primo Levi, Consulate General of Italy and New York University Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò.
Memoria is the first film to document recollections by survivors of the Italian Shoah collected for the “Archivo della Memoria,” a sound and film archive established in 1993 by the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan to record, preserve, and restore the stories of Italian Jews who survived in the Holocaust.
Filmed in Italy at locations were Jews were detained or deported, survivors return to sites were they were interrogated, imprisoned, or witnessed the harrowing deaths of loved ones or helpless victims — from the railroad station in Milan, to the camps of Fossoli to the prisons of Genoa, each survivor tells their story, their tragedy, their experience, for future generations who will never become acquainted with the witnesses of the Holocaust.
Liliana Picciotto Fargion, a historian at the Milan Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea who co-authored the script commented, “The film is almost science fiction, created out of fragmentary memories of victims, it will soon be the only evidence of their memories. Many of them, especially Roman Jews, wanted their whole family to accompany them. It happened that we would have an appointment with someone and thirty people would arrive, sons, daughters, cousins, even small, screaming grandchildren.” With witnesses of the Holocaust growing fewer and fewer in number and an increase of historical revisionism which downplays the Nazi’s Final Solution, the remarkable accuracy and sensibility the historians created in Memoria, makes this documentary an invaluable historical testament of the Holocaust.
Memoria, was written by Marcello Pezzetti and Liliana Picciotto Fargion and produced in collaboration with Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea’, Milan, Italy. The film is in Italian with English subtitles. Post screening comments will be made by Andrea Fiano, US reporter for Milano Finanza and son of one of the survivors.
Ruggero Gabbai, director, was born in 1964 in Antwerp, Belgium and grew up in Milan, Italy. He graduated from Columbia University in New York with an M.F.A. in film/ directing. He made the documentary The King of Crown Heights about Rebbe Lubavitch and was a student and an assistant of directors such as Milos Forman, Emir Kusturica, Paul Morrisey and Paul Schrader.
The stories and eyewitness accounts retold in Memoria are drawn from the ‘Archivo della Memoria’ (Archive of Memory), established in 1993, and made possible by private financial sponsors, the President of the Advisory Council of Ministers of the Lombardy region and the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs. One of the only ninety survivors of the Holocaust and the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, Elisa Springer has acted as a witness for the Archive della Memoria. From the Jewish quarter in Rome, the railway station in Milan, the prisons of Genoa, Florence and Trieste, the camps of Fossoli and San Sabba, Italian survivors returned to Auschwitz in 1996 to tell the story of their persecution and deportation. Of the 8,500 Jews deported to Auschwitz from Italy and Greece, only 800 survived. With outstanding accuracy and sensibility, historians Marcello Pezzetti and Liliana Picciotto Fargion with director Ruggero Gabbai have created an invaluable historical document. It is noted that the accounts are deemed credible because the witnesses were interviewed by the accredited historians who performed extensive research about the Holocaust and are familiar with the individual accounts of each person.