Time has a way of wrapping famous films in hazy memories, half-truths and factual errors, while it casts a veil of oblivion over key figures. An unsung hero of Italian film history, Aldo Venturini was a wool wholesaler who believed in the idea of a young director named Roberto Rossellini and his project to make a film about Rome under the Nazi occupation. The film was already underway when well-known producer Peppino Amato pulled out. Thanks to Venturini's financial support, the film was able to continue filming, just months after the liberation of Italy by the Allies in 1945. The result was the masterpiece and symbol of Italian neorealism, Open City. Shot in the tumult of Italy's postwar tragedy, it captures the electrifying atmosphere of its time. Laura Muscardini's fascinating documentary Children of "Open City" retraces this historic production through interviews with the children of Venturini, Rossellini and Anna Magnani, along with film critics and other commentators. Most memorably, she unearths Vito Annichiarico, who played Magnani's small son in the film. Now a mature gentleman with a stage career behind him, he returns to the exact locations where the film was shot and talks to the Romans living there about this high point in their cultural history. Muscardini emphasizes Rossellini's desire to "do something useful" in the wake of the Second World War and to find a reason for the Italian people's sacrifices. Viewed today, Open City has lost none of its breathtaking immediacy and its simple, direct style-the antithesis of Fascist rhetoric-still looks revolutionary.
Born in Rome, Laura Muscardin received her degree in modern history from the University of Rome La Sapienza and studied film production at USC. Muscardin's other films include the shorts Light My Fire, Le Coeur, and Charlie and the Snake. She is currently shooting her second feature, Billo, a story set between Italy and Senegal.