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"The experience of the war was decisive for all of us...we sought to liberate ourselves from the weight of our sins...Shoeshine was a small stone, a very small stone, a contribution to the moral reconstruction of our country." — Vittorio De Sica
Two shoeshine boys in post-war Rome try the make a living from American soldiers and dream of buying a horse, but eventually, run afoul of the law and the black market. An early classic of the Italian neo-realist movement, De Sica’s exposé of the Roman prison system guaranteed no director would be allowed back into an Italian jail system to make a film for a very long time. Shoeshine was the first film awarded an Oscar as Best Foreign Film for proving “to the world that the creative spirit can triumph over reality”.
“I came out of the theatre, tears streaming, and overheard the petulant voice of a college girl complaining to her boyfriend ‘Well I don’t see what was so special about that movie’. I walked up the street crying blindly, no longer certain whether my tears were for the tragedy on screen, the hopelessness I felt for myself, or the alienation I felt from those who could not experience the radiance of Shoeshine.” — Pauline Kael
“There are no barriers at all between De Sica and these children whose tragic lives he understood perfectly.” — Martin Scorsese
“When working with [scriptwriter] Zavattini, De Sica was able to explore the pitiful and most frail aspects of what it means to be human, especially through the difficulties of the working-class poor.” — Ted Perry
The 7pm screening on Wednesday 26 April will be introduced by Noa Steimatsky, a film historian now writing a book on Cinecittà at War. She is the author of The Face on Film (2017) and Italian Locations (2008).
Italian, English subtitles
Rinaldo Smordoni, Franco Interlenghi, Anielo Mele
Vittorio De Sica
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