“I am not afraid of the war in Algeria. I am not afraid of decolonisation”1

Like many other companies, the national oil company of Italy, ENI,2 produced a number of films, particularly between the 1950s and the 1970s. The company was one of the protagonists of the so-called economic boom, which transformed Italy from a largely agricultural country into one of the most industrialised countries in the world – despite the permanence of strong inequalities, above all in the gap between the North and the South of the peninsula. In the same period, between the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, ENI was also active abroad: in particular, it had strong and fruitful interactions with decolonising or recently decolonised countries, such as Egypt, Morocco, Iran, and Algeria.3 For political and business reasons together, the company tried to negotiate agreements that guaranteed for these countries better profits than those that other major oil companies imposed.4

ENI sponsored different types of documentaries filmed both in Italy and abroad, and directed by both little-known directors and prominent figures like Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Valentino Orsini, Joris Ivens, and at the end of the 1960s even Bernardo Bertolucci.5 However, the company archive also preserves a script of an unmade film, which had the provisional title Un dio nero un diavolo bianco (A Black God and a White Devil, henceforth Un dio). The film was in the making at the beginning of the 1960s, and it was written by Jacques-Laurent Bost, Franco Solinas and Sergio Spina, while the author of what on the script is indicated as the linea narrativa (narrative storyline) is no other than Jean-Paul Sartre. Largely made of archival footage, it brutally narrates the crimes of colonialism, especially of French colonialism in Algeria.

This article begins with an overview of the discourse in Italy on the Algerian war. I will then discuss how the project of Un dio came to be, in particular, who were the people involved in the project, what is in the script, and what is left of it. This project is interesting in itself as an anti-colonial text which came out of the Italian context of the time; but it also relates to La Battaglia di Algeri (The Battle of Algiers, 1966, henceforth, The Battle).

Italy and the Algerian war

Enrico Mattei, ENI’s president from its foundation in post-war Italy, mysteriously died in a plane accident in October 1962, just a few months after Algerian independence. He was the main figure responsible for the transformation of a relatively small company into a major international player in the field, a company that in some areas acted as unofficial ministry of foreign affairs. The Algerian war had been of key importance for him and his company in the previous years, and it was at the centre of Italian interests in general, with important consequences for internal politics as well as Italy’s geopolitical positioning in the Cold War – as a country that presented itself as allied (openly or more discretely) with decolonising countries while at the same time being part of NATO and the Western bloc.

In Italy, support for the Algerian struggle did not only come from the left, like in numerous other countries, but even sectors of the Christian Democrats (the centre-right party who ruled in Italy for most of its post-war history until the 1990s) supported the independence of Algeria, as did Mattei’s company. ENI’s support went beyond vague declarations and generic slogans: Mattei sent an agent (Mario Pirani, a former employer of the official Communist Party newspaper) in Tunis, tasked with gathering information on potential activities for the company in the area; behind the curtains, his role was that of opening a line of dialogue with the leaders of the FLN (Front de Libération Nationale, the Algerian National Liberation Front). As a response to ENI’s activities and declarations, the Right-wing terrorist organization OAS (Organisation de l’Armée Secrète) explicitly targeted Mattei: it is important to underline this because the script, as we will see, was originally about, or rather against, the activities of OAS. The company clearly saw Algeria as one of the places where its strategy for the Middle East and North Africa, one of expansion and collaboration on equal conditions, could better be implemented.

An unmade film: the project of Un dio

Studying an unmade film is usually challenging: scripts and treatments are not readily available, they may be scattered in different places and with different titles; interviews with people involved in the projects can be helpful, but present several pitfalls, from the fallacies of memory to the specific and personal interests that the interviewees may have; as a result, we usually can rely only on a limited set of information. Un dio is not different than other unmade films. A script of the film is preserved at the ENI archive (which received it as a donation of producer Antonio Colantuoni6), together with some additional documents, including a very short subject. A treatment and another subject can be found, under a completely different name, at the Luigi Chiarini Library in Rome, one of the national film archives of Italy;7 finally, a folder on the film is preserved at the Archivio Centrale dello Stato (ACS, the National Archives of Italy): it contains a short treatment (similar to the other ones) and more contextual material, including contracts and correspondence with the Ministero del Turismo e dello Spettacolo (Ministry for Tourism and Spectacle, henceforth MTS).8 Colantuoni and Spina have been interviewed (by the author and other interviewers) about this project at different stages, from the end of the 1980s to December 2016. Despite all these sources and efforts, many details about the making of the film remain unknown. This, too, is something common in the study of unmade films.

Several people worked at different stages on this project. The main one is the director Sergio Spina (at the time close to the Communist Party), who also directed Anni d’Europa. Apogeo e tramonto del colonialismo, a four-episode TV program that RAI (the Italian state television) aired in March 1962.9 The two works (the TV program and the unmade film) present a lot of similarities: thematically, they both framed the Algerian question within the wider trajectory of colonialism; stylistically, they largely use found footage. Besides Spina, the other key person involved in this project is Antonio (Tony) Colantuoni, a peculiar figure, about whom much is unknown. A former partisan, intimate friend of Mattei,10 possibly but not certainly an employer at ENI, he worked as a film producer, realising a handful of quite peculiar films in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Lucio Fulci’s 002 Agenti segretissimi (Oh! Those Most Secret Agents, 1964) and Mario Mattioli’s 5 marines per 100 ragazze (5 GIs for 100 Girls, 1962). Not much more is known of his career in cinema: when asked, he was quite vague on the topic, stating “at the time I was involved in film production, and [Mattei] entrusted me with the production of project of a grosso documentario (major documentary)”.11 That the manager of one of the most important Italian companies would entrust the production of a grosso documentario to a relatively little experienced producer may seem strange; yet, this is absolutely common with Mattei, a man who trusted his friends completely and who assigned important role to people with little experience when he believed in them.

It is extremely unclear how Franco Solinas, the screenwriter of The Battle and many other films of the time, became part of the team, and neither the ENI archive nor the Solinas archive have traces of his involvement in the film – except for his name on the final script. Ruling out the possibility that he would just be a name on a list and have no role at all in the writing of Il dio, it is likely that Solinas joined the team later on and possibly for a short period of time. Film production in Italy at the time was a frantic activity, with hundreds of films made every year12: it was customary to have large teams of screenwriters, whom occasionally didn’t even work together.

According to Spina,13 both Sartre and Bost, who was at the time a close collaborator of the French philosopher, worked with him on the writing of the script, as documents at the Chiarini Library and the ACS seem to suggest – the treatment in fact clearly indicates Bost, Sartre, and Spina as authors, with Riccardo Aragno joining the team for the script. While it is hard to verify this information, a few facts can be lined up. First, Sartre’s involvement in the anti-colonial cause and in particular his support for the Algerian independence is well known: from very early on, in January 1956, he spoke at pro-Algerian revolution meetings. According to his most authoritative biographer, “never before has Sartre committed himself as deeply to a contemporary political combat.”14 In 1959 he sided publicly and unequivocally with the FLN, as well as with Francis Jeanson and the other French militants who helped the Algerian cause in France.15 By 1960, “the image of the writer slowly gave way to a newer one, that of the militant traveller.”16 Second, Italy, and Rome in particular, was almost a second home for Sartre, and he spent there multiple summers, meeting with Italian communists. In 1961 he delivered a lecture at the Gramsci institute, part of a meeting of PCI intellectuals and fellow travellers.17 On December 13, 1961, according again to Cohen-Solal, he was in Rome to participate in “a meeting for Algerian independence which was also attended by the Algerian leader Tayeb Boularouf” and there he also met with Frantz Fanon in the summer of 1960.18 According to Rossana Rossanda, “there was love between Italy and Sartre, but not necessarily common political/intellectual work.”19 Third, like Mattei, Sartre was also targeted by the OAS, which exploded two bombs at his apartment in July 1961 and January 1962.20 Finally, Sartre was involved in a number of film projects throughout his life, from his early experiences after World War II to the complicated project of a biographical film on Sigmund Freud that Sartre wrote for John Huston at the end of the 1950s.21

Against colonialism, against OAS

Many details on how the project came to be remain unknown, but the broad outlines seem clear thanks to the documents I have uncovered, and some more hypotheses can be formulated. Chronologically, the first document that attests to the existence of this project is a corporate memo22 that Manlio Magini – a member of the advertising sector of the company, and also a novelist, editor and poet – sent to his superior Giorgio Ruffolo at the end of September 1961.23 The memo has a document attached entitled “Appunti per un film inchiesta sull’OAS” (Notes for an investigation film on OAS). Here Magini notes that the film is not just about the OAS, but it contains much more: “the common subject is the return of the economic, nationalist, colonialist, imperialist far right” and the treatment “should be elaborated further to give it logic and unity, otherwise it runs the risk of becoming a mix of too many things (zibaldone).” For this reason, Magini was sceptical about the project, and about its nature of collage film, a genre that he didn’t seem to know. He thought that linking ENI with the fight against the far right would have been dangerous. He is concerned, we can speculate, that the image of the company – its corporate identity and business strategy – would be hurt by putting the company’s name close to so many different causes and issues.

Jean-Paul Sartre

The first page of Appunto per un film inchiesta sull’OAS, Archivio Storico dell’ENI, Relazioni Esterne, b. 45, f. 2CCO

The short treatment, less than a page and half long, presents a project that is slightly less ambitious than the one that Magini, possibly exaggerating, described to his direct supervisor. The Appunti do start with a focus on Algeria, framed within the decolonising project in general. It needs to be noted, obviously, that this text was written sometimes during 1961, that is after the battle of Algiers but before Algerian independence; hence, the sense of urgency that the treatment has, which calls for the film to be a pamphlet. There are references to other fascist organisations and crimes, but overall the focus on colonialism is quite clear. In the treatment there is also a passage that talks explicitly about ENI:

We witness the attempt of the reactionary far Right, which is linked to the interested of some monopolist and oil groups (gruppi monopolistici e petrolieri), to revive a Fascist politics whose main goal is to move further in time, even of a little bit, the independence of the African countries, the nationalization, and the insertion of new companies, like ENI, in the global economic market, or at least in the Mediterranean one.

Surely this is a nod and a sign of goodwill to the company; yet, this passage also has resonance with the place that ENI was trying to occupy at the time, in opposition to the gruppi monopolistici e petrolieri and pro-independence of the North-African countries. For this reason, this unmade film is a document that clearly exemplifies ENI’s (and Italy’s) geopolitical positioning in the Cold War.

In this text we also see some references to the cinematic style of the project – a passage that was probably misunderstood on Magini’s part. The film was to have a character who would have acted as a guide; as “it must also be a spectacular film” (spettacolarmente valido), something which the footage material alone, according to the writers, could not convey. They propose then a “TV style reportage, with an important and famous journalist as protagonist”, filming live and in the real places, unlike most anchormen of the time who just presented the show from a cold studio. The project seems pretty clear then: not only a wide and careful use of footage material, but also a film that could work on a more spectacular level. The other treatments and short scripts preserved at the Chiarini Library and ACS, together with the ENI screenplay, follow this schema – except for the employment of the journalist, an idea we do not find in other documents.

In 1962 two other production companies (Crono Film S.r.l. and Colantuoni’s Alpi s.r.l) presented the project of the film to the MTS, under a new title, Il Colonialismo (Colonialism).24 In the documents preserved at CSC at ACS, Sartre is indicated as one of the writers, together with Bost, Spina, and a new name, Aragno. The differences from the documents that the ENI archive holds are evident, but there is no doubt that the project is the same. Thanks to the memos that the two production companies sent to the MTS we know that the film was in the making during the summer of 1962. On June 8, the two companies “announce with letter, according to the law, that on June 15, 1962, we will begin working25 on the black and white film provisionally entitled Il Colonialismo.26 A note from July 17 contained the evaluation of an employee of the MTS, on documents (the short treatment, a list of people who will work on the film, etc.) that were likely submitted by the two companies in June. This passage is very interesting: according to the law of the time, in order to be recognised as an Italian film and therefore have access to governmental funding (riconoscimento della nazionalità italiana e della ammissione alla provvidenze governative) archival footage films needed to present historical, artistic, or cultural qualities. The valuator writes that “the events of the film, while they do not have any artistic or cultural contents, they also have a ‘current’ (attualità) more than strictly ‘historical’ character.” Meanwhile the two companies write again to the MTS to ask for authorisation to film abroad. This happens, it is worth highlighting, just a few months after Algerian independence. On July 12, the two companies write that they intend to make a film not just about history, but that focuses on “living values of attualità […] the film wants to focus on the problem of colonialism in a modern sense, that is in the sense that colonialism no longer has a reason for being, because colonialism is synonymous with non-freedom (non libertà) and anti-democracy”. This anticolonial take is evident in the treatment as well:

The film wants to talk about the irresistible push toward freedom of the underdeveloped countries, the internal struggle of colonialism and its consequences in the life of the metropolis. We are Italians, but we are first of all Europeans, and the French war against Algeria (with its consequences) concerns us too […] Of course, the threat is everywhere, but the Algerian war and the corruption is has provoked in France seems exemplary to us.27

As in the screenplay, in this text too the authors remarks how the treatment can only give some general ideas on the final film, because it will be mostly made of archival footage, so they only give some general indications. The film is divided in three parts: “1) What is colonisation; 2) The people’s war. How was it organised. How it exploded. How it was conducted; 3) repercussions of the war in the metropole.”28 The treatment also has a section explicitly and violently opposed to the OAS. Other documents at CSC also give us more information about the people who were going to work on the film and a surprisingly detailed work plan with dates of trips to a number of cities to look for material, filming outside and inside in Rome, and several months for the editing. We learn, among other things, that at first no scene was to be shot in Algiers (a decision that possibly changed as the pre-production continued), and that the some scenes were going to be filmed at the stabilimenti De Paolis, one of the most important Italian film studios of the time.

Jean-Paul Sartre

The cover page of the screenplay Un dio nero, un diavolo bianco. Archivio Storico dell’ENI

The long script preserved at ENI seems to be chronologically the last document currently available connected to this project. It begins with a similar statements about the role of the script – that is, one that gives only some indications, because a footage film is mostly “a film you make in the editing room” (p.1);29 but this time the statement is rather paradoxical, given that the script is almost 190 (very detailed) page-long. Sartre’s role in this script is more explicit: “The text of the voice over is approximated/indicative; THE DEFINITIVE COMMENTARY WILL BE WRITTEN BY J.P. SARTRE AFTER THE FINAL EDITING”  (p. 1, emphasis in the original). Sartre would join the ranks of a number of other major writers of the time, like Alberto Moravia, Alberto Ronchey, and Leonardo Sciascia, who wrote commentaries for the films produced by ENI.

A few characteristics of this work should be pointed out. Throughout the text there are a number of links between colonialism and Nazism.30 White, western men, the script tells us, experienced with Nazism what the colonised, people of color had experienced for centuries (p. 30); a comparison is also made between the colonies and the concentration camps (“Colonies are like enormous concentration camps, where the only law is the law of survival”, p. 35) and between the French atrocities in Algeria and the German atrocities in Belsen (p. 79). Finally, the script also points to the responsibilities of common French people toward Algeria, which are similar to those who in Europe ignored the Nazi massacres (p. 100).31 This is a comparison that will appear in other places, including The Battle, in the famous scene of the press conference with Colonel Mathieu and his paratroopers. The Holocaust and colonialism are the “kindred spirits, natural allied and outgrowths of European modernity”,32 the two experiences that structured and nonetheless haunted Western Modernity33: it is perhaps normal, then, that they are discussed together, but no other Italian film at the time had posed such connections in this eloquent way.

Stylistically, the film would have used a variety of cinematic techniques: freeze frame (p. 20), animation (p. 38-39), readings from books, interviews (among others, with Francis Jeanson, p. 141) and speeches (including some of Charles de Gaulle, p. 133 and p. 139), a huge number of newsreels, footage from television programs, including foreign ones like CBS (p.83). The film would have also borrowed from feature length films like Julien Duvivier’s La Bandera (1935) and Pépé le Moko (1937), both set in Algiers (p. 15). Finally, Jean Rouch’s Les Maîtres fous (1954) would have been used to illustrate the rituality of dance in Africa, comparing it to the “white” Rock ’n’ Roll (p. 36). This footage material was going to be integrated with scenes specifically filmed for this film. Thematically, Un dio would have been a very interesting, provocative, and innovative film, and also a true expression of the political and cultural climate of the time. Jonathan Crary wrote that films from the beginning of the 1960s – and especially Chris Markers’ La Jetée (1962) – seem to ask “how does one remain human in the bleakness of this world when the ties that connect us have been shattered and when malevolent forms of rationality are powerfully at work?” and he proceeds to note that, at this time, “there is a growing sense of the deadening effects of a standardised and image-saturated culture.”34 Questions that resonate in many contemporary Italian films, from Michelangelo Antonioni to Pier Paolo Pasolini, and that Un dio would have also dealt with, by radically attacking colonialism with the use of an array of different images, redefining them and giving them a different value, avoiding precisely that standardised effect that Crary discusses.

According to one, possibly unreliable source the film was actually made: on the back cover of Spina’s novel Killernet, the author’s biography says that the film was under production in 1960 for Mattei’s ENI, and “after his death it was produced by the Algerian Cinema Office.”35 There are no other sources that attest that the film was finished; Spina himself in interviews stated that only some scenes were actually shot, which were then donated, or sold, to film institutions in Algeria. Numerous inquiries with different film critics and programmers in Algeria did not reveal any evidence that this footage existed, or still exists.36 If they do, they are probably lying somewhere waiting to be identified. There are some issues with dates as well. Colantuoni in the 1989 interview said that when Mattei died the project stopped because the political support ceased to exist.37 After the death of the charismatic ENI president, many other non-filmic ambitious projects were halted, having lost their main political support. But it does not seem plausible that this particular film project was interrupted, as the script talks about the killing of Mattei, a fact that helps us to pinpoint this undated text as being written some time after October 1962.

Most likely the proposal for the film arrived at the ENI managers in 1961, where it received an initial rejection from Magini, who communicated his scepticism to Ruffolo. The project proceeded nonetheless, with a different name. The team of writers, now including – we have to assume from the sources – Franco Solinas and Riccardo Aragno, continued to work after the death of Mattei at the end of 1962. The team of screenwriters wrote the treatments I could find at the Chiarini Library and the ACS, and the longer script preserved at the ENI archive. However, the death of Mattei may have precluded them from trying to work with the company again. What the involvement of Colantuoni was in this last phase, and whether or not Spina shot some scenes, is at the present stage unverifiable and we need to rely on personal statements and interviews with the two – as it is often the case with unmade films. Even less clear is what was precisely Sartre’s and Bost’s work on this film.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre with Simone de Beauvoir and Che Guevara.

A Coda. From Un dio nero un diavolo bianco to The Battle of Algiers

It is probable, therefore, that Un dio was written in the span of a few, decisive months, full of important events related to the themes of this unfinished film: the death of Frantz Fanon and the publication of The Wretched of the Earth; the independence of Algeria; the death, most likely killings, of Enrico Mattei and of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld, to name just a few of them. Between 1960 and 1962, Franco Solinas and Gillo Pontecorvo also wrote the script of the unmade film Parà, which is usually considered a precursor to The Battle.38 In this conclusion, I want to briefly mention the relation of Un dio to Pontecorvo’s film.

The project of Un dio needs to be considered in the environment and the political climate that will eventually lead to the making of a film like The Battle.39 But there are also some scenes which directly or extremely closely anticipate Pontecorvo’s film. Solinas is the point of connection between the two projects, even though we still know very little about his role in the making of this unmade film; Spina does not remember working with him, and no other sources mention his role. We thus need to rely only on textual and not contextual information. Scenes that display French torture of Algerian citizens, for example (pp. 85-86 and pp. 88-9), resemble quite similarly those in Pontecorvo’s film. The scene of the strike that features in the film, and which (as with all of the events portrayed in it) really took place, also features in Un dio (p. 87), but was to be edited from newsreels and not shot for the occasion. Un dio also features a scene that anticipates the beginning of The Battle: a man, who knows where the hideouts in the Kasbah are, is tortured by the French militaries; the voiceover comments, “This is called strong interrogatory” (p.92). We also have a scene where a bomb is made (p.94), that was to be edited with a rapido montaggio (rapid montage), a sort of anticipation of the bomb killings that take place in The Battle. At the end of the script of Un dio (p.165) there is also a lynching of an Algerian man that resembles very closely he attempted lynching of The Battle. The final scene of The Battle, the uprising of December 1960 also features in Un dio, and it was again to be made completely of newsreel footage.

The most striking resemblance is possibly the scene of the Barberousse prison. In The Battle a scene set in this prison takes place at the beginning of the film, when the two main characters (Ali and Jaffa) meet, both being held at Barberousse. In a sense The Battle builds on the script of Un dio. In both films, the action moves from the interior of the prison to the courtyard. Some elements are repeated, like the protests and the chanting of the prisoners: however, if in The Battle the execution takes place in complete silence, in Un dio “chanting continues” (p. 96). The camera works quite differently, and it is much more mobile: if in Un dio we have a “long dolly”, in The Battle Pontecorvo builds an intricate assembly of shots, edited with a quick montage. The guillotine is portrayed in a significantly different way: from “we only film the upper part” of Un dio (p.96) to seeing from middle distance and only hearing its sound: the effect, however, is the same, finding a way to say what happens, to point to the effect of the guillotine without showing it. The most fascinating part is possibly how this passage from Un dio – “With a dolly the camera moves forward (the target are the eyes of the sentenced man)” (p. 96) – is translated in The Battle, a film where close ups of eyes have a key importance: we see a succession of eyes, including that of the person who will be killed, which culminates in the close up of Ali’s eyes: a decisive one, given that we know that this is the precise moment of his prise de conscience, of the realisation that he is becoming a militant and not just a petty criminal.

Jean-Paul Sartre

The eyes of Ali Lapointe in The Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo, 1966)

The project of Un dio grew out of the same political and cultural environment that would eventually make The Battle possible. It seems likely – yet not fully verifiable – that Franco Solinas either reused or was inspired by some scenes of Un dio for the script he wrote with Pontecorvo; for sure, the two projects share themes, ideas, settings. The unmade film Un dio nero un diavolo bianco, then, is many things: it can be included in the list of precedents and inspirations for Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers; it is an anti-colonial and anti-fascist text that came out of the Italian cultural and political environment of the beginning of the 1960s; an expression of that complex nexus of Italian geopolitical interests and ENI’s activities; a screenplay that testifies how the interests of a company like ENI went well beyond its narrow business activities; and finally, it may well be an unknown work of authors such as Jacques-Laurent Bost, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Franco Solinas.


I greatly thank the archivists at ENI – and in particular Lucia Nardi, Daniela Scamuzzi, and Mattia Voltaggio – for their help and for providing me with several, important information. In Algeria, Azzedine Mabrouki did all he could (and beyond) to help me find more on this project; Ahmed Bedjaoui and Lamine Ammar-Khodja also kindly answered my questions. At the Premio Solinas, I want to thank Francesca Solinas, Annamaria Granatello, and Susanna Terribile. Daniel Fairfax has been, as usual, patient and helpful. I also would like to thank for different reasons Valeria Deplano, Roberto Silvestri, Mariuccia Ciotta, Anton Giulio Mancino, Elio Frescani, Andrea Brazzoduro, Michele Guerra, Giulia Sbaffi, Vanessa Roghi, Massimo Mastrogregori, Dudley Andrew, Millicent Marcus, and Francesco Casetti.

This article has been peer reviewed.



  1. This quote is taken from the draft of a speech by Enrico Mattei in Tunis in 1961. See Enrico Mattei, Scritti e discorsi, 1945-1962: raccolta integrale dall’Archivio storico Eni (Milan, Rizzoli 2012), p. 730. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. Occasionally, when they can help clarify a passage, Italian words/sentences are also provided.
  2. ENI (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi, National Hydrocarbons Authority) was founded in 1953 from the merging of a number of smaller companies. It still exists after being partially privatised in the 1990s. Its core business was and continues to be the extraction, selling and distribution of gas and oil.
  3. The most authoritative history of ENI is Daniele Pozzi, Dai gatti selvaggi al cane a sei zampe. Tecnologia, conoscenza e organizzazione nell’Agip e nell’Eni di Enrico Mattei (Venice: Marsilio, 2009).
  4. Ibid., pp. 412-440 and Paul Frankel, Mattei. Oil and Power Politics (New York and Washington: Frederick A. Prager, 1966), pp. 89-118.
  5. On the cinema of ENI, see Elio Frescani, Il cane a sei zampe sullo schermo. La produzione cinematografica dell’Eni di Enrico Mattei (Naples: Liguori Editore 2014) and Paola Bonifazio, “United We Drill: ENI, Films, and the Culture of Work”, Annali d’Italianistica 32 (2014): 329-350.
  6. ENI Archive, Archivio Storico ENI (henceforth ASE), ENI, Relazioni esterne, b. 45, f. 2CC0.
  7. Il Colonialismo, Sezione Sceneggiature, Biblioteca Chiarini, Roma.
  8. ACS, Ministero del Turismo e dello Spettacolo, Direzione Generale dello Spettacolo, Lungometraggi, CF 3992, b. 348.
  9. Valeria Deplano, “Decolonisation will be televised: Anni d’Europa and the fall of European colonialism”, in Cecilia Novelli e Paolo Bertella Farnetti (eds.), Colonial Stereotypes: Printing and Images of Colonialism and Decolonisation in Italy. Media in and on Italian Colonialism (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, forthcoming).
  10. Giuseppe Accorinti, Quando Mattei era l’impresa energetica io c’ero (Matelica, MC: Hacca, 2013), p. 113 and Antonio Colantuoni, interview with Vincenzo Gandolfi, ASE, Fonti orali, 1989, pp. 24-32.
  11. Colantuoni, interview, p. 20.
  12. “In 1964, Italy was producing 250 films a year including co-productions (…) This number of films was higher than that produced in Hollywood at the same time and it indicates the persistence of a Fordist production paradigm and the conditions to support it: a large cinema-going public and a reasonable amount of readily available film finance”, David Forgacs, “Italian Film Studies: Personal Histories Doing Film History Today”, Italian Studies 63:2 (2007): 255-261, p. 257.
  13. Unless otherwise noted, all information from Spina is from the interview the author conducted in December 2016 at Spina’s house in Rome.
  14. Annie Cohen-Solal, Sartre: A Life, trans. Anna Cancogni (New York: Pantheon Books, 1987), p. 372.
  15. Marie-Pierre Ulloa, A Dissident Intellectual from the French Resistance to the Algerian War, trans. Jane Marie Todd (Stanford: Stanford University Press: 2007), pp. 169-173.
  16. Cohen-Solal, Sartre, p. 415.
  17. Jean-Paul Sartre, What is Subjectivity (New York and London: Verso, 2016). On Sartre in Italy, see also Ibid., La regina Albemarle o l’ultimo turista (Rome: Il Saggiatore, 2016).
  18. Cohen-Solal, Sartre, p. 440 and p. 433.
  19. Rossana Rossanda, “Sartre e la sinistra italiana”, in Ornella Pompeo Faracovi and Sandra Teroni, edited by, Sartre e l’Italia (Livorno: Belforte Editore Libraio, 1987), p. 262.
  20. Cohen-Solal, Sartre, p. 44.
  21. The film came out in 1962, but Sartre withdrew his name because it was significantly different from his original script. Jean Paul Sartre, The Freud Scenario. Translated by Quintin Hoare (London and New York: Verso, 2013). On Sartre’s scripts, see the chapter “Le scénariste” in Dominique Chateau, Sartre et le Cinema (Biarritz: Atlantica-Séguier, 2005), pp. 41-51.
  22. On the corporate memos, see John Guillory, “The Memo and Modernity”, in Critical Inquiry 31:1 (Autumn 2004): 108-132.
  23. Manlio Magini, “Appunto per il dott. Ruffolo”, Rome, 26 September 1961, ASE, Relazioni Esterne, b. 45, f. 2CCO. All subsequent quotations from this same document.
  24. Or in one case, La fine del colonialismo (The End of Colonialism), Letter from Imperialcine (a distribution company) to MTS, in ACS, Ministero del Turismo e dello Spettacolo, Direzione Generale dello Spettacolo, Lungometraggi, CF 3992, b. 348.
  25. The term in the original Italian is lavorazione: this does not necessary mean filming, but clearly they were already working on the film, so this term probably refers to the actual shooting or an advance pre-production phase.
  26. All information coming from the ACS folder: most memos and letters do not have a specific title, while I am indicating date in the text.
  27. Il Colonialismo, Sezione Sceneggiature, Biblioteca Chiarini, Roma. The citation is from the trattamento, pp. 3-4.
  28. Ibid., p. 6.
  29. Citations from Un dio nero un diavolo bianco will be indicated only with the page number.
  30. Neemla Srivastava wrote about this relationship in the context of the time: “The Italian press at the time often likened colonialism to fascism, so as to make it relatable to an Italian audience; and similarly, anticolonialism was likened to the Italian anti-fascist struggle during the Resistenza in the course of the Second World War”, in “Frantz Fanon in Italy”, Interventions, 17:3, 2015, p. 318.
  31. Questions and accuses which were not uncommon in France: Albert Sauvy, former member of the Resistance and one of the earlier critics of French colonialism after the war, asks in 1951 (in a piece symbolically entitled “J’accuse”), “Have we become the Gestapo in Algeria?” in Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New York: The New Press, 2007), p. 6.
  32. Daulatzai Fifty Years, p. 5.
  33. One of the places this question features predominantly is of course Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, published in French in 1950 (and then 1955): some passages of Un dio echoes almost directly Césaire’s powerful poetic-political writing.
  34. Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (London and New York: Verso, 2013), p. 92-93.
  35. Sergio Spina, Killernet (Lecce: Le Mani, 1997).
  36. In particular, I relied on the kind help and generosity of Azzedine Mabrouki.
  37. Colantuoni, interview, pp. 19-21.
  38. The densest work on Parà is a PhD dissertation, Gianni Tetti, Franco Solinas, l’officina dello sceneggiatore tra cinema e letteratura. Parà, testo genetico di un’intera filmografia, Cagliari, 2010.
  39. On the making of The Battle, see David Forgacs, “Italians in Algiers”, Interventions 9:3 (2007): 350-364.

About The Author

Luca Peretti is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian and in Film and Media Studies at Yale, where he studies Italian cinema and history. He collaborates with various newspapers and websites.

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