Script: Gillo Pontecorvo, Franco Solinas
Photography: Goffredo Bellisario, Marcello Gatti, Marco Scarpelli, Aleksandar Sekulovic
Editing: Roberto Cinquini
Music: Carlo Rustichelli
Actors, social actors: Susan Strasberg, Laurent Terzieff, Emmanuelle Riva, Didi Perego, Gianni Garko
Color: Black and white
Kapo, by Gillo Pontecorvo, was the first Italian film about the deportations and concentration camps. With the finesse of a former documentary filmmaker the director renders the film’s viewers witness to the suffering of the victims in individual stages of a transport through the story of one Jewish woman who becomes a kapo, realizes her error, and in a prison uprising sacrifices herself voluntarily. Drahomíra Olivová: Shots of the camp, the guards, bunks, wounds, scraps of bread, packed box-cars, garish roll-calls, frozen hands on red-hot stoves, unearthed bodies, and throngs of innocent women…

At the end of the camp there is a dugout pit, wires running horizontally along its edge, a metallic sound is carried across a metallic sky, and women pour white chalk over each layer of dead bodies. We watch the face of the woman dead in the film, not the dead woman in the film.

Ethics grow out of the memory of stories, not the veracity of images, or more precisely: stories of suffering gain in intensity amidst moral consensus, which in return becomes the measure of the authenticity of real images.

The words used by Deborah Lipstadt in defence of moral history (the subject of the holocaust) against deconstructionist history apply also to the documentary: No fact, no event, and no aspect of history has a fixed significance or content. Any truth can be related anew; any fact can be altered. There is no final historical reality...

This brings to mind the shots that the documentary relates differently, so that itself it quickly becomes the field of abuse and reinterpretation. Fictional cinematography is not exposed to this risk: the image is sufficiently spurious that it cannot be misused in this way, and the falseness of its idea is so evident that editing alone cannot reverse this.

That is why fiction films are doomed to oblivion, while the fate of documentaries is their continued recycling.

Photo Gallery

Festival edition: 2005
Sections: Special Event
Exhibition format: 35 mm


The author of the official spot is renowned director Jean-Luc Godard