Set during the height of the Congolese Civil War (1960-1965), Congo Vivo (Giuseppe Bennati, 1962), narrates the affair between an Italian journalist, Roberto (Gabriele Ferzetti) and Annette (Jean Seberg), the wife of a Belgian diplomat. The film was co-written by William Demby (1922-2013), a novelist, journalist, translator and screenwriter, who like many African American soldiers who arrived in Italy during World War II as part of the U.S. Allied Forces, remained in the country for the better part of forty years. Written during Demby’s period of intermittent expatriatism between the United States and Italy, and in the same period as his signature novel, The Catacombs (1965), Greene argues that Congo Vivo, a hybrid documentary and narrative fiction film, situates Italy as a site for African diasporic identity formation within a broader post-World War II geopolitics, extending across the Atlantic from the U.S. Civil Rights to African national independence movements.
Shelleen Greene’s research interests include Italian cinema, Black European studies and digital feminist studies. Her book, Equivocal Subjects: Constructions of Racial and National Identity in the Italian Cinema (Continuum / Bloomsbury Press, 2012) examines the representation of mixed-race subjects of Italian and African descent in the Italian cinema, arguing that the changing cultural representations of mixed-race identity reveal shifts in the country's conceptual paradigms of race and nation. Her recent work has been published in California Italian Studies, ADA: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology and Future Texts: Subversive Performance and Feminist Bodies (Parlor Press, 2015). Her work has also been published in From Terrone to Extracomunitario: New Manifestations of Racism in Contemporary Italian Cinema: Shifting Demographics and Changing Images in a Multi-Cultural Globalized Society (Troubador Press, 2010) and Postcolonial Italy: Challenging National Homogeneity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
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Originally published at italianstudies.nd.edu.