Film Screening and Roundtable:
Film Screening and Roundtable:
Il Grido della Terra, directed by Duilio Colletti, 1949
Guri Schwarz, Stefano Albertini, Wendy Gittler
The film is presented in collaboration with the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale
A Neo-Realist tale on the founding of Israel and one of the first films to narrate the migration of European Jews to Palestine of British mandate. Written by Lewis Gittler, Carlo Levi and Alessandro Fersen, Il Grido della Terra offers unprecedented glimpses into the history of the transition of fascist concentration camps into DP camps, and the unfolding of the last operations of the Aliya Bet (clandestine Jewish emigration) through the Puglia region. Against this historical background a compelling love story unfolds with some surprising twists.
From the press
Suzanne Ruta, The Forward
Made more than 10 years before “Exodus,” Lewis Gittler’s film dramatized the plight of Eastern European refugees trying to reach Palestine in 1947. Gittler, a Life magazine correspondent and a U.S. Army Military Intelligence veteran, was an adventurous, resourceful, Chicago-born grandson of a family of Orthodox rabbis and entrepreneurs from Silesia. fter studying at the University of Chicago, he wound up in Berlin. There, for most of the 1930s, he and an older sister wrote for Berlin Topics, an English-language paper popular with the Anglo-American community. After 1933, they smuggled money and valuables out of Germany for Jewish families, and canvassed consulates for immigration visas. At the start of the Spanish civil war, in 1937, Gittler went to Spain, hoping to work as Emma Goldman’s secretary. The plan did not pan out.
In the United States in 1939, Gittler contributed to the groundbreaking study “German Psychological Warfare,” edited by historian Ladislas Farago. When the United States entered the war, he was recruited into the Office of War Information. He was then sent to Washington, D.C., to Britain and finally, in 1944, to Normandy on the heels of the invasion.’
On the beach at Normandy, Gittler and his good friend, Italo-American Albert Salvatori, swore that if they survived, they would make a film together. In 1947, a stay in Paris filled them with stories of the Exodus, providing them with the subject for their film. The two men chose Italy as the locale, expecting no interference from censors. They signed on with Lux Films, a company founded by Riccardo Gualino. A resolute anti-fascist, Gualino would later launch the careers of Carlo Ponti and Dino deLaurentis.
“Don’t call the film ‘Exodus,’” some relatives warned, according to Wendy Gittler. “No one will go to see it with a name like that.” Continue
Il Grido Della Terra, 1949, script by Lewis F. Gittler, Giorgio Prosperi, Carlo Levi and Akessandro Fersen.
Directed by Duilio Coletti, produced in Italy by Albert Salvatori for Lux Films.
Andrea Checchi, Marina Berti, Vivi Gioi, Carlo Ninchi, Luigi Tosi, Filippo Scelzo, Peter Trent.
The film was produced in 1948 and was mostly shot in the old section of the city of Bari (Puglia).
At the end of WWII, Jewish refugees were temporarily hosted in transit camps in Apulia, which had been established under the aegis of the United Nations and the Allied Forces, with the support of International Jewish organizations.
Many of them were Holocaust survivors who were directed from various European places to DP (Displaced Persons) camps established in Bari, Barletta and in several small villages on the Lecce sea coast (the most important ones being Santa Cesarea, Santa Maria al Bagno, Santa Maria di Leuca, Tricase Porto).
Those refugees remained in Apulia for shorter or longer periods between 1944 and 1949.
The University of Salento has been collecting and publishing autobiographic material of all those refugees who have related in different languages their experiences in the transit camps.
In their writings the former displaced persons let us know about the daily life in the camps, as well as about their feelings and hopes to find any possible way to migrate to Israel or to other destinations.
Those personal testimonies, along with the interviews of the former refugees that have been collected in the past few years and turned into documentaries, allow us to reproduce a full picture of an important page of contemporary history, thus greatly contributing to the information derived from official documents surviving in local and international archives.