Blaxploitalian: Italy, in Black and White

Mar 10, 2017 606

BY: George De Stefano

“What are you?,” “Where are you from?” Gamey Guilavogui, an actress born to an Italian mother and a father from Guinea, remarks that these are two questions she hears all too often from Italians. Though born in Rome and raised in Italy, Guilavogui is seen as a foreigner by other Italians. Her sense of dislocation, of belonging but not belonging to her country, has made her feel like “crawling out of my own skin” and to “want to be invisible.”

Guilavogui is one of several Italian actors of mixed or non-white origins who appear in “Blaxploitalian: 100 Years of Blackness in Italian Cinema,” a new documentary by Fred Kuwornu, a filmmaker from Bologna who is the son of a Ghanaian father, a surgeon who emigrated to Italy in the ’60s, and an Italian Jewish mother. Kuwornu’s films critically examine the complexities of racial, ethnic, and national identity, as lived by Italians of mixed backgrounds. His first film, “Inside Buffalo” (2010), was a documentary about the 92nd Infantry Division, known as the “Buffalo Soldiers,” an all-black American combat unit that fought in Italy during World War II. Kuwornu made the film after working with Spike Lee on “Miracle at St. Anna,” the director’s 2008 feature film about the 92nd Division.

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