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cinema > Libere by Rossella Schillaci

Libere by Rossella Schillaci

“We were all afraid, but courage lies precisely in carrying forward anyway even if you are afraid.”

– Giuliana Gadola Beltrami

On the occasion of Liberation Day, the Italian Cultural Institute of Washington and New York University present the screening of “Libere”, a movie directed by Rossella Schillaci.

The film presents the role of women in the Italian Resistance during World War II and the years of peace that followed but also of the “restoration” that occurred after the war. The story is told with the voices of the protagonists. It highlights what that period of struggle meant for them, how they fought alongside men but also, and above all, what it meant for their own liberation.

Join us on April 26th at 6 pm in the Abramson Family Auditorium, at the NYU Brademas Center, in Washington, DC.

Directed by Rossella Schillaci
Italy 2017
Documentary film
Total runtime: 76 minutes
Language: Italian, with English subtitles

📍NYU Brademas Center – Abramson Family Auditorium
1307 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20005



Registration (available April 15, 2024)

Click on button below for availability





Through a suggestive montage of archive films, the movie extrapolates a narrative thread from interviews with partisans, that have been carried out over the last forty years by the National Film Archive of the Resistance, and presents a precise vision of the period of World War II.

Through the “relived” memories of the protagonists, the viewer experience the first true birth of feminism, where the struggle leads to emancipation and the search for freedom, where greater sexual freedom is acquired, and where equality is experienced, at least briefly, at work and in the family.

Finally the movie tells the story of the changes women partisans had to readjust to following Italy’s liberation, the broken promises, dreams, and expectations. Women’s reflections sometimes bitter, bring to light an often forgotten piece of Italian history.


Rossella Schillaci is an award-winning filmmaker and visual anthropologist. Her works are based on her in-depth anthropological research using cutting-edge audio-visual methodologies. She obtained her PhD in Digital Media, with practice-based research in digital media and anthropology. Her PhD project, the experimental Virtual Reality documentary Affiorare (Surfacing), won the Best Practice Research prize from BAFTSS and several prizes in international documentary festivals.

Schillaci co-founded the independent production company Azul ( where she works as a researcher, author, and filmmaker. She has produced and directed more than 20 films, broadcast on TV by ARTE, Sky, and Al Jazeera. All her documentaries have been awarded in international film festivals, including: RAI, NAFA, Fespaco, Jean Rouch, Venice film festival, Sheffield doc fest. Among her latest films, Les enfants en prison was co-produced and broadcast by French television Arte and won the Etoile de la Scam, recognition given to the best documentary films broadcast in France, and Libere has been distributed in more than 200 Italian cinemas.

She has published several journal articles about her multimodal research and methodological contribution to anthropology. She is part of the Colab International Research Program involving Portuguese universities and the University of Texas at Austin. Her Master’s degree in Visual Anthropology is from the University of Manchester (UK).



«Don’t be afraid, I won’t make you delay lunch, I’ll talk for three minutes. I would have liked for a moment to talk about Women’s Defense Groups in this historical study by the CLN. And I must confess that when I came here to talk, I was annoyed, because I say: but, do I really have to come and talk about women? All the men who spoke before, maybe they think that talking about women is unmanly? So, I would like, I would like, that some young student, without distinction of sex, let’s not discriminate, would like to study what was the women’s movement during the Resistance, from 8 September to 25 April, to then get to see what was the action of the women who left the Defense Groups and the CLN, in the various Administrations or in the Government or Administration positions that they then had”.

Thus began the (very short) speech of the only female partisan who was called to speak during the CLN conference held in 1965 in Turin: Ada Gobetti.

The recording of this intervention was found in the ANCR archives and first of all poses a request: to shed light on what women were able to do by organizing themselves independently during the Resistance. It is a request that is still relevant today: despite more than 70 years having passed, it is more necessary than ever to talk about the Resistance from the point of view of women, without rhetoric and without censorship.

We decided to accept this invitation and make a documentary film that talks about women’s action, but paying particular attention to their political participation and underlining how the period of the Resistance was actually the first moment of awakening of the women’s movement.

As Giuliana Gadola Beltrami says: «For me, feminism was born in the resistance, because women have changed roles, clearly! So much so that when I questioned them, my first question was always: “Why did you do it?”, the most disparate answers came out, but all in a certain sense univocal, that is: I did it because I didn’t like it. the life I led, I did it because I wanted to be free. Each of them wanted to emancipate themselves, they wanted to get out. She precisely wanted to overcome the role.”

The film tells of a parallel resistance, the women’s resistance, sometimes not coinciding in its different motivations and methods of action with the resistance conventionally referred to.

Starting from filmed interviews with partisans, carried out over a long period of time from the end of the 80s to today, and therefore to all intents and purposes now archive material, it was decided to process them by extracting only the voices, and using them as a sort of narrative and thematic sound guide, on the images that instead provide us with visual sources (documents, leaflets written hastily in pencil, photos, flyers, reports, tissue papers, membership cards, and naturally sequences of amateur films, documentaries, newsreels).


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  • Organized by: Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Washington, New York University