From “Terrone” to “Extra-comunitario”: The Evolution of Racism in Italian Cinema

Grace Russo Bullaro (Lehman College)

In films of the New Italian Cinema such as Rocco e i suoi fratelli (1960), and Ciao, Professore! (1992), the “Southern question” takes on the cast of racism, with racial and cultural differences often overlapping. After the watershed years of the 1980s and 1990s, the discourse on racial identity and new definitions of ethnicity became full-blown with a spate of films that explored and redefined the boundaries of culture, ethnicity and otherness. What does it mean to be “Italian” in today’s multicultural Italy? This presentation will provide an overview of the current “migration cinema,” tracing the evolution of the discourse of “racism” from the 1950s to the current wave of films by directors such as Gianni Amelio, Carlo Mazzacurati, Francesco Munzi, and Ferzan Ozpetek.