MIFF: Primo Levi’s Journey (Italy)

Primo Levi's Journey

“Auschwitz” and “tongue-in-cheek comedy” aren’t often phrases that share the same sentence, but this documentary from Italy covers both. Primo Levi the chemist, novelist and Holocaust survivor immortalised his recollections of his internment in If This Is A Man. He followed this up with The Truce, which journalled the ten months it took him and his fellow Italians to return, via a circuitous train journey, to Turin. Crossing Poland into the lands of the USSR, Levi’s book is filled with carefully observed minutiae as well as conveying the Italians’ desperate sense of weariness that their freedom should only take them further from their homeland and possibly to the gulags. Director Davide Ferrario takes the text and journey of The Truce as the starting point for his own journey, retracing Levi’s steps and considering the same landscape sixty years on. Along the way we get an interview with legendary Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda on the ruinous skeletons of Polish industry in the post-communist era. Indeed, much of the film is wrapped in the fallout of the Soviet break-up, with the outcomes being both tragic and comic. The movie rattles on at an entertaining pace and leavens the contemporary documentary with excerpts from Levi’s book, which serves to complement and juxtapose the visuals. A must for fans of Levi’s writing and a great introduction to the Eastern European disposition for those who like their travel to happen in a cinema.

Screening at Forum: Wednesday 1st of August, 3:00 PM