The Indiana University Cinema will screen Roberto Rossellini’s 1946 film Paisan on 35 mm this Saturday as part of its ongoing series of twentieth-century masterworks, City Lights. This unsparing depiction of Italy at the end of World War II was the director’s follow-up to his breakthrough film, Rome Open City, serving as the second installment in what would later become known as his War Trilogy. Though the film’s six episodes are set in different locations throughout the country and were scripted by various writers, including Federico Fellini and novelist Alfred Hayes, these disparate sections are unified by Rossellini’s commitment to the hallmarks of neorealism, including the use of documentary techniques and nonprofessional actors to create a heightened sense of authenticity. As Colin MacCabe notes in his essay for our edition, Paisan’s grim subject matter is counterbalanced by “the verve of the stories and the sense of the camera finding realities as yet unseen,” making it “one of the most inspiring and energizing of films.”
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