Roberto Rossellini’s ‘ROME, OPEN CITY’ will return to cinemas UK-wide from 17 May 2024

Roberto Rossellini’s 1945 masterpiece ROME, OPEN CITY, winner of the Grand Prix (forerunner of the Palme d’Or) at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival, will now return to the big screen in selected cinemas UK-wide on 17 May 2024, ahead of the film’s approaching 80th anniversary, courtesy of BFI Distribution.

Rossellini subverts rules with the first film of his War Trilogy, which was planned in secret during the Nazi occupation of Rome and recognised almost unanimously as the first neorealist film. ROME, OPEN CITY will be on Extended Run at BFI Southbank as part of a major two-month season exploring Italian neorealism. CHASING THE REAL: ITALIAN NEOREALISM, presented in partnership with Cinecittà, runs throughout May and June and features 20 titles.

Mixing fact and fiction, ROME, OPEN CITY is a story of life and death, depicting the struggles of four Roman partisans during the German occupation. Resistance leader Giorgio Manfredi (Marcello Pagliero) flees the Gestapo and seeks a place to hide with the help of his friend Francesco (Francesco Grandjacquet), his pregnant fiancée Pina (Anna Magnani) and the priest who is due to marry them, Don Pietro Pellegrini (Aldo Fabrizi).

Rossellini and collaborators (including a young Federico Fellini who served as a co-writer) created a choral story of a city dominated by fear, violence, moral degradation and the raw courage of its inhabitants.

Shot on the streets and in a makeshift studio only six months after the liberation of Rome, when Germany still occupied Northern Italy, the film features a largely non-professional cast, except for Aldo Fabrizi and Anna Magnani with her memorable performance. Varying between comical and violent scenes, reality appears in all its dynamism: it was the beginning of a new way of seeing.   

ROME, OPEN CITY has inspired and influenced countless filmmakers. Almost 80 years since it was made, Roberto Rossellini‘s landmark portrayal of life under German occupation remains an extraordinary achievement.

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