The TV film by Maurizio Zaccaro, Fernanda, tells the story of an unknown heroine of the twentieth century, broadcast tonight 31 January at 21.25 on Rai 1. The protagonist is Matilde Gioli.
It airs tonight at 21.25 on Rai 1 FernandaTV movie directed by Maurice Zaccaro with protagonist Matilde Gioli, dedicated to one of the extraordinary Italian women of the last century, whose life and works certainly deserve to be known more. Let’s talk about Fernanda Wittgens, who in 1944 succeeded her mentor, professor Ettore Modigliani, who was fired for being an anti-fascist and, as a worker as she had entered, became director of the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. During the war, she understands that it is not enough to save precious paintings from bombings and raids, and, aided by her notoriety which makes her, she thinks, unsuspected, she joins the Resistance by expatriating many Jewish families. This will earn her, in 2014, the recognition of Righteous Among the Nations. Rai 1 has decided to pay homage to the generosity and courage of this exceptional woman of culture, who was not even spared the humiliation of prison, dedicating her fictional biography to her, Fernandawhich you will see tonight.
Fernanda Wittgens between history and invention
Of the personal life of Fernanda Wittgensapart from family relationships, nothing is known and therefore the screenwriters for narrative needs Dario Carraturo e Guglielmo Finazzer with the collaboration of Zaccaro himself, they invent two male characters who enter the woman’s life: one, played by Eduardo Valdarnini, it is Giovanni, an ignorant Roman worker fascinated by Fernanda’s dedication to art, who is involved in her most risky undertaking. The other is an ideal love, which will be revealed as antipodes by the gentleman with whom she decides to correspond, a German named Hans Edlen, played by Christopher Hulsen.
The plot and the interpreters of Fernanda
Fernanda Wittgens was the first director of the Pinacoteca di Brera and among the first women in Italy and Europe to hold such a prestigious role. Since she was a child she spent Sundays visiting museums in Milan at the beginning of the twentieth century in the company of her father Adolfo di lei. The crowning of her dream was made possible by her meeting in 1928 with Ettore Modigliani, historic director of the Pinacoteca di Brera. An encounter that changes the life of Fernanda, hired as a “residential worker”. The young woman proves that she is able and willing to do much more than she should and when Ettore Modigliani is relieved of all duties as an anti-fascist, she takes her place, becoming the first woman to hold such an important role in the Pinacoteca. A few years later, Italy entered the war and safeguarding the works in the gallery from bombing became an imperative: in June 1940, Fernanda took part in the first transfer of some of the works housed in the Pinacoteca. And not only will the works find an escape route: Fernanda commits herself to something even more risky. Also unaware of her family, she helps expatriate hundreds of Jews destined for concentration camps in Switzerland. But it is precisely by a young collaborator that she is betrayed and arrested together with her friends and collaborators. Fernanda is sentenced to four years in prison, then reduced to one, but the war is winding down. Beyond Matilde Gioli ed Eduardo Valdarninithere are Valeria Cavalli in the mother’s side, Maurice Marchetti who is Ettore Modigliani, Sergio Albelli Professor D’Ancona, as well as Frances Beggio, Lavinia Guglielman, Beatrice Barrilà, Silvia Lorenzo e Sergio Grammaticus.
Says director Maurizio Zaccaro in his director’s notes
There are hidden events in the folds of our history which, due to their extraordinary human impact, still stir up great emotions. Precisely for this reason, the first of the reasons that must make credible not only the interpretation of our protagonist but also that of all the characters who gradually interact with her is not only the wealth of information and anecdotes, but above all the authenticity of the mass on stage also supported by valuable archive images to tell our memory otherwise faded by time, blurred. Fernanda thus takes on a universal meaning, revealing the plan to which the protagonist has been predestined: to save not only the priceless art treasures kept in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan but also the lives of many Jews, persecuted by the fascists and the Nazis after the notorious racial laws of 1938. “Indelible stain” of our country. To make a film about Fernanda Wittgens, however, the information we have on her life, even if detailed, is not enough, especially in the darkest years of the Pinacoteca threatened by bombings, above all it is necessary to adapt the whole story with originality and with a pinch of imagination. And that’s why today, in an era as dark and dramatic as the one we’re experiencing, we wanted to bring Fernanda back among us. Because it is precisely her example that humanity is in dire need of today. And we do so with our thoughts turned to another great Milanese artist, Giorgio Strehler, when the day after the Piazza Fontana massacre he said to the actors of the Piccolo Teatro: “What can we theater people do? To the mortification of not being able to oppose, in such moments, any useful gesture, in the face of the painful impotence of the theater, or more broadly of art, in the face of violence and madness, the artist can only strive to continue to do well your job”. Fernanda is therefore a story that needs to be told with due respect, because in addition to the personal story of this courageous Milanese woman, the film now made can also become a splendid opportunity to tell Art and Beauty as the only possible weapons against senseless wars , horrible massacres and devastations. “Art is one of the highest forms of defense of the human”, said Fernanda Wittgens.
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