Italian fest also set to showcase Holocaust-themed docs including Roberta Grossman's Who Will Write Our History
Charles Ferguson's highly-anticipated docu-series Watergate, about the political scandal that brought down President Nixon, will hold its world premiere at the Rome Film Festival in October.
In an announcement posted on the festival website, programmers hailed the docu-series and Ferguson, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind Inside Job.
"The director reconstructs the whole story with an engaging and captivating narrative, supported by a range of unpublished images and materials, some recovered thanks to the latest computer technologies," the festival said, adding, "Watergate also makes use of archival records, trial transcripts, testimonials and new interviews conducted with members of Congress, prosecutors and journalists."
Hugely compelling, Watergate is at once a sobering, frightening demonstration of the fragility of democracy in the face of the abuse of power.
Watergate will air eventually on the History Channel, part of the A&E portfolio of networks.
"The Watergate investigation transfixed America and the entire world for two years. Forty-five years later, this epic story continues to fascinate,” Paul Buccieri, President of A+E Studios and A+E Networks, said in a statement last year announcing the Ferguson project. “From the corrupt politicians to the tenacious special prosecutors, judges, and journalists, the scandal is replete with heroes and villains alike."
Perhaps hinting at the special prosecutor's investigation into President Trump and his campaign, Ferguson noted of the earlier scandal, "Hugely compelling, Watergate is at once a sobering, frightening demonstration of the fragility of democracy in the face of the abuse of power, and yet at the same time an inspiring demonstration of how courageous people, many of them young, used America’s institutions to prove that everyone, even the President of the United States, must obey the law."
The 13th edition of the Rome Film Festival, which will take place from October 18-28, has programmed several Holocaust-related documentaries to commemorate the 75th anniversary of one of the city's darkest chapters.
"On October 16, 1943, the German Gestapo troops carried out the roundup of the [Jewish] ghetto of Rome," the festival noted. "Seventy-five years after those dramatic events, 'Black Saturday' will be remembered through two screenings... in collaboration with Rome Capital, Foundation of the Shoah Museum and Istituto Luce Cinecittà."
The premieres include The Raid, Rome, October 16, 1943, a documentary directed by Ruggero Gabbai "that reconstructs, through statements of witnesses and documents, the stages of this painful chapter, the first major mass arrest of Jews in our country, which resulted in deportation to the concentration camp of Auschwitz."
Also on the program is the documentary Who Will Write Our History directed by Roberta Grossman and executive-produced by Nancy Spielberg (younger sister of Steven Spielberg), based on the book of the same title by Samuel Kassow.
The film tells the story of historian Emanuel Ringelblum who was confined in the Warsaw Ghetto in the midst of World War II. He secretly amassed an archive detailing conditions there, comprised of diaries, documents, official Nazi decrees, his own writings and other materials -- "an archive that has since turned out to be one of the most important relating to the Holocaust," as the Rome Film Festival notes.
Oscar winner Adrien Brody plays Ringelblum in historical dramatizations within the documentary. Joan Allen narrates the film.
The Rome Film Festival also will pay homage to the late documentary filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, director of the seminal Holocaust documentary Shoah, who died in Paris on July 5. It will screen his documentary Sobibór, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m., about the uprising staged by Jews sent to the Nazi death camp in Poland.
"In Sobibor, where the prisoners were exterminated just after their arrival, a small group of prisoners, under the guidance of a Jewish captain of the Red Army, decided to kill the few Germans who guarded the camp," the festival wrote.
"Cinema is also memory, respect, testimony," Rome Film Festival director Antonio Monda commented. "I am particularly proud to remember one of the most tragic moments of the twentieth century in a special program of the Film Festival. In addition to [the] new documentaries we will celebrate the great Claude Lanzmann with one of his most vibrant works."
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.