Reviewed: Books, movies, etc.

Documentary Review

If Only I Were That Warrior: A Documentary
by Valerio Ciriaci.
Awen Films,
DVD $12.99,  Video on Demand rental $4.99; purchase $12.99.

Reviewed by Janet Lee (Emdeber 74–76)

ioiwtw_poster_v5_1_medium_winner“OF ONLY I WERE THAT WARRIOR” is the first line of Verdi’s Aida, and one wonders throughout who is the warrior of which this excellent documentary speaks.

The documentary begins and ends with the voice of Mulu, an Ethiopian radio broadcaster who lives in Italy and is on a campaign to erase all trace from a newly dedicated memorial in the town of Affile, Italy in the memory of Rodolfo Graziani, the Italian Fascist general who was responsible for numerous war crimes and the deaths of thousands during the Italian Occupation of Ethiopia in 1935.  The documentary questions how Graziani, known by many as “the Butcher of Ethiopia,” can be honored by a public monument, especially in Italy where Fascism is constitutionally banned.

Through a series of interviews of approximately 20 people in Ethiopia, Italy, and the U.S., the viewer hears differing perspectives on honoring Graziani with a memorial based on personal memories, history books, or stories from their elders. One might expect that one group of people might lean for or against the memorial based on nationalities of that group, but surprising alliances are formed or indifference abounds. To some, the genocide is “ancient history” and to others a cause to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

Particularly moving, is a short segment of an elderly monk who as a child witnessed the mass slaughter of thousands outside Debre Libanos.

Also depicted is the unlikely alliance that arises when Nicola DeMarco, the American grandson of an Italian solider who fought in Ethiopia, and joins forces with the Ethiopian diaspora, in particular Kidane Alemayehu from the Global Alliance for Justice: The Ethiopian Cause.

If Only I were that Warrior was the winner of the Premio “Imperdibili” Festival Dei Popoli, 2015 and was an official selection to the African Diaspora International Film Festival, 2016, to the Italian Film Festival of Minneapolis/St. Paul 2016; to the Addis International Film Festival, 2016; and to the Africa World Documentary Film Festival, 2016.

Ethiopian historians and non-historians alike will find this documentary informative and thought-provoking.

End of Issue 26 — March 2017

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