Fiume o morte!

Fiume o morte!

Directed by Igor Bezinović

  • Croatia 2018;
    • EAVE Scholarship - Cinelink

  • A BRIEF EXCURSION previous work of director Igor Bezinović, available for screening on Festival Scope


It was September 1919, when the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio triumphantly entered the town of Fiume on the coast of Adriatic, in his red convertible FIAT, followed by a couple of hundred Italian World War I veterans and declared the city an independent micro-state, the ‘Italian Regency of Kvarner’ – today the territory of the Croatian city of Rijeka and its surroundings. During his 14-month rule, he welcomed a number of avant-garde artists and intellectuals that flocked there from all over the world. One could find the father of Futurism, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti or Guido Keller, a young Milanese known for flying over the Italian parliament and ‘bombing’ it with excrement. When Berlin Dadaists and even Lenin supported the idea, it seemed for a moment that they found the most progressive place on Earth. The city plunged into a continuous artistic performance of nudity, orgies, wine, drugs, and various sexual or political provocations. There were torchlit parades, firework displays and fly-pasts. The brothels were packed. The new dwellers found considerable economic success in piracy as the militia would ransack any foreign boat that dared approaching the bay. A mock battle was staged as Toscanini’s orchestra played Beethoven’s Fifth. It turned into a real fight. A unique iconography appeared – black shirts and flags, Roman salutes, mysticism and nudist meetings organized by a group named Yoga. They believed in nationalism, gender equality, liberalization of drugs, health insurance and retirement for all, freedom of belief but also defense of the right to be an atheist, while music was considered the supreme principle. The ordeal lasted until Fiume was officially integrated by the fascist government. Strangely enough (or not), several ideas originating from this peculiar experience were then recycled by the regime. The film is stylistically conceived as an eclectic collage consisting of different filmmaking approaches by using three dominant methods: voiceover narration, archives and reconstructions. D’Annunzio left town in January 1921 to start the construction of his extravagant hillside estate in the town of Gardone Riviera overlooking the Lake Garda, where he’ll remain isolated until his death. On one of the walls, a visitor can see a bronze eagle’s head. It’s the head which D’Annunzio’s legionaries cut off from the Fiume eagle on the town tower in November 1919, in order to make the Habsburg two headed eagle resemble the Roman one headed eagle.

Director's Statement

I was born and raised in Rijeka, and I am deeply interested in this brief moment in history during which this rather ordinary European provincial town became, for a few months, a powerful attractor for international avant-garde artists. There are several literary and historical works dedicated to D’Annunzio’s Fiume, both by Italian and Croatian authors but, beside some TV reportages, there has never been a real creative documentary on the subject. There is a consistent amount of archival material related to this period, but my intentions are more to recreate the avant-gardist spirit of those times than to tell the facts in a chronological order. My references in the use of archives, can be traced in the work of directors such as Jay Rosenblatt, Jean-Gabriel Périot or Mohammadreza Farzad. The visual identity of the film is inspired by Futurist art and the work of Fortunato Depero. I also intend to have a voice over, that will lead the narration form the point of view of citizens of Fiume from those times, both Italians and Croatians.







    Fabrizio Polpettini, Tibor Keser, Marina Gumzi