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Between 1948 and the end of the 1950s, Italian and American government agencies and corporations commissioned hundreds of short films for domestic and foreign consumption on topics such as the fight against unemployment, the transformation of rural and urban spaces, and the re-establishment of democratic regimes in Italy and throughout Europe. In Schooling in Modernity, Paola Bonifazio investigates the ways in which these sponsored films promoted a particular vision of modernization and industry and functioned as tools to govern the Italian people.
The author uses extensive archival research and various theoretical approaches to examine the politics of sponsored filmmaking in postwar Italy. Among the many topics explored are target audiences and audience response, sources of funding, censorship, debates on cinematic realism, and the connections and differences between American and Italian strategies and styles of documentary filmmaking. Insightful and richly detailed, Schooling in Modernity shows the importance of these under-appreciated films in the postwar modernization process, the transition from Fascism to democracy, and Italy’s involvement in the Cold War.