The Cinematic Battle for the Adriatic: Films, Frontiers, and the Trieste Crisis

Istock - ImagoRB (Rudi Bagozzi)


CBA TRIESTE analyses cinematic practices related to the Trieste Crisis (1945-1954), the diplomatic struggle over the Italo-Yugoslav borderlands at the outset of the Cold War. Both countries produced several films about these events, often utilizing the same footage – Yugoslav partisans in Trieste, Italians leaving the region, political protests – but framing them in conflicting ways: as occupation/liberation, migration/exodus, anticommunist/antifascist protests. As the conflict coincided with the establishment of film festivals, the festival circuit became an arena in which the struggle for cultural hegemony took place. Taking festivals as lieux de mémoire, CBA TRIESTE explores how the cinematic representation of the struggle for this territory has been employed to construct politically suitable cultural memories related to the conflict’s national and ideological concerns.

CBA TRIESTE - The Cinematic Battle for the Adriatic: Films, Frontiers, and the Trieste Crisis

The struggle for the Northern Adriatic remains one of the most controversial issues in contemporary Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia. This is due to the violence of the period, including accusations of war crimes committed by both sides, and Italian emigration from the areas that became part of socialist Yugoslavia. Hence, in 2004 the Italian government established Giorno del Ricordo to commemorate what it terms the “Italian tragedy” in the territories that it lost to Yugoslavia. This has fuelled the rediscovery of this once-marginalised topic and inspired the restoration of old and production of new films on this subject. As such, any political analysis of this disputed past, is indisputably a political analysis of the present.

Images from the newsreel "Pola, addio" (La Settimana Incom n. 46, ITA, 1947). Courtesy of Cineteca del Friuli.