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August 2002, Week 4


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gloria monti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 24 Aug 2002 14:31:34 -0400
text/plain (77 lines)
>Ron Leming <[log in to unmask]> writes:

>I don't want to sound like I'm supporting Leni Riefenstahl entirely. I'm
>not sure the truth will ever be known.  As for there being a choice, I'm
>not so sure about that. You [[log in to unmask]] mention Lang, Wilder
>and the Siodmaks, but
>there's a very basic difference you're overlooking there. The examples
>you mention are all men. Even today, women aren't represented all that
>well in film making, though it's getting there. There may have been
>other women film makers in the 40s, but I can't think of any.

        Women filmmakers who chose not to support Nazism -- Leontine
Sagan, for example.  And let's not forget (though not a director)
Marlene Dietrich.

>It's quite easy to look back at history
>now and say this was a horrible thing. But we forget that, at the time,
>many of the German people thought what was happening was a good thing
>for Germany, and many didn't know about the activities of the SS and the

        Claiming ignorance, or that one was simply following orders,
has been the most indefensible political position of the 20th
century.  See Claude Lanzmann's work, to name just one.

>I find it reprehensible to blame anyone and everyone who didn't actively
>contest and fight for what happened and hold them responsible for the
>acts of others.

        Of themselves.  We are talking about Leni's work as a
filmmaker supporting the Nazi regime.  What I find reprehensible is
this condoning.  When is it gonna stop?

>She has always maintained that she didn't know what was
>happening until it was too late. Until someone can prove, beyond a doudt
>that she did know, I choose to believe her statement.

        I would like to quote Debra Winger's character Joy Gresham in
*Shadowlands* here, when she responds to a statement made by one of
C.S. Lewis's colleagues with a question -- but I am afraid I would be
censored by Screen-L's new moderator.  As for the proof of knowledge
you are seeking, it will never come from Leni -- she will continue to
lie for the next 100 years.
        I would also like to comment further with a personal story.
My father, born in 1927, grew up in Italy under Fascism.  He did not
have access to anything else -- he, also, was surrounded by the
belief that "what was happening was a good thing for [Italy]."
However, at the age of 16, with the events of 8 September 1943
(Italy's surrender to the Allied forces) and afterwards (the German
occupation of Northern Italy, the republic of SalÚ), he made a
choice.  And he has been an anti-fascist ever since.
        Giuliano Montaldo's film *Tiro al Piccione /Pigeon Shoot*
(1961), chronicles this major turning point in the life of that

        Gloria Monti


Gloria Monti, Ph.D.
Research Associate
University of California, Santa Cruz
Film and Digital Media Department
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

"Given the realities of widescale migration, the end of conventional
colonialism, and the emergence of the new non-European worlds from
subjection and marginality, we need to jettison Eurocentrism

Edward W. Said

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