The first feature film made in Italy after the end of WW II, Rome, Open City (1945) heralded the birth of Italy's neorealist cinema movement - which favored natural lighting, on-location shooting, and the prominent use of nonprofessional actors - and served as an inspirational call for unity at a turning point in Italy's history.
ONCE UPON A TIME ... ROME, OPEN CITY examines the political and cinematic history of Roberto Rossellini's landmark film, which so memorably dramatized the WWII Italian resistance to the German occupation.
In addition to archival footage, which sketches in the relevant historical background, ONCE UPON A TIME... includes scenes from this classic film, revisits some of its key locations today, and features interviews with many of its participants (Rossellini, Anna Magnani, Aldo Fabrizi, Federico Fellini, and Carlo Lizzani), family members (Luca Magnani, Isabella Rossellini, Renzo Rossellini, Ingrid Bergman), and other film directors and critics (Vittorio Taviani, Adriano Aprà, François Truffaut) who discuss the historical and artistic importance of both Roberto Rossellini, and his groundbreaking film.
In archival interviews recorded at various times in later years, Rossellini recounts the difficult and dangerous conditions under which the film was produced, explains his desire to "emancipate the cinema" from the confines of the artificial studio environment, and analyzes the esthetic development of his neorealist style in later films. The film also traces Rossellini's earlier film career, including excerpts from propaganda films he directed during the early Forties.
ONCE UPON A TIME... also provides a more personal, biographical portrait of Rossellini - the man, the father, the social personality - with intimate reminiscences by his daughter Isabella and son Renzo, his widow Ingrid Bergman, Magnani's son, Luca, and Rossellini's former producer at Cinecittà, Il Duce's son, Vittorio Mussolini.
"A wealth of information... provides a new perspective on the Italian neorealist style, of which 'Roma' was an early exemplar."—Sarah Boslaugh, Playback: See the Light
2006 Cannes Film Festival
2006 Venice Film Festival