Fernando Cerchio, 1942

Produced by Istituto Luce, this documentary film shows the eel fishing and processing techniques practiced in the Comacchio valleys. Some night sequences depict fishermen going out fishing with their boats, the tansfer of eels from the traps into the floating wicker baskets and the return to the fishing stations where fishermen, far from home, live together. Barges full of eels arrive at the processing factory – called Azienda delle Valli Comunali di Comacchio, currently re-named Manifattura dei Marinati. It looks like an assembly line: eels are first sliced, then skewered and then cooked. In the morning the church bells ring, the factory is full of casks filled with the processed eels, he barges sail once again across the canals, greeted by the village children.


Michelangelo Antonioni, 1943

Spare and minimalist work in which Antonioni, here at his debut, tells the daily struggle and the resigned life of fishermen living along the Po river banks.


Carlo Magri, 1945

This is a documentary film edited with sequences shot by the English cameramen accompanying the allied troops who came down from the Reno and got to the Po river in April 1945 namely in Argenta, Portomaggiore and Ferrara. Once they crossed Senio and Reno rivers, the allied troops headed for Ferrara, the Po area and the still occupied cities along the “via Emilia”.


Florestano Vancini and Aldo Baruffi, 1950

This documentary film is devoted to the famous Benedectine abbey – here beautifully enhanced by the photography of Antonio Sturla, the texts of Vittorio Passerini and the voice over of Arnoldo Foà – and describes a decadent Pomposa, which lost its ancient splendour, set in a wider Italian afterwar context where culture and knowledge have become a luxury only few people can afford.
The work was restored in 2000 by Cesare Bornazzini, original director of Codigoro that four years before had produced and directed another cinematographic homage to the abbey, Pomposia Monasterium in Italia primum, where, unlike the documentary film by Vancini and Baruffi, the church returns to life after heavy restoration and refurbishment works.


Renzo Renzi, 1951

Report shot in the Po Delta region with the support and contribution of Sergio Zavoli. Renzo Renzi paints a broad picture of life in the Po valleys, ranging from German bunkers in Bosco della Mesola used as houses, to rampant illiteracy, from scarce and illpaid employment to peculiar local habits. The film ends with a message of hope devoted to the Body in charge of the Colonization of the Po Delta, the one and only entity that, according to Renzi, can change the destinyof these people.


Antonio Sturla, 1953

This documentary film shows the handover of the first estates in the Mesola area in 1952 thanks to the agrarian reform launched by the Body in charge of the Colonization of the Po Delta, and the stream of promises by local and national politicians: the construction of new houses, roads, nursery schools, churches, clinics, expropriation and allocation of farms, huge investments as well as training courses to turn unexperienced labourers into modern farmers.


Michele Gandin, 1955

Documentary film hinging around the story of Antonio Massarenti, who is granted a farm. His story is used to show the first effects of the agrarian reform launched in 1951 by the Body in charge of the Colonization of the Po Delta, which turned many labourers into farmers. Modern and comfortable houses replace crumbling buildings and bunkers, while road, schools and clinics improve the general life conditions of households. Children can finally go to school without having to walk for five kilometres and sick people can be promotly treated.


Florestano Vancini, 1955

This documentary film focuses exclusively on Comacchio: the everyday lives of its inhabitants – boatmen, children playing cards, women spinning outdoor – and the daily struggle for survival on a strip of land surrounded by water.


Marcello Di Pietro, 1957

This documentary film uses the words of an ancient puppetteer and those of a inhabitant of Comacchio in order to compare the new villages built thanks to the reclamation works in the areas of Mesola and Codigoro – dwellings, schools, social clubs, nursery schools, cooperatives – case, scuole, circoli di ritrovo, asili, cooperative – with the desolation besetting the lagoon city where people still hope that the mysterious hidden treasure of Spina, the so-called “golden spider”, will be finally found.


Aglauco Casadio, 1960

People in Comacchio are torn between poverty and squalor, houses and walls tend to crumble because of the brackish environment and there are few job opportunities. Reclamation has just started but livelihood is still possible only through the sale of fish and, apart from few permit owners, most fishermen are harpooners. The documentary film focuses on the eternal fight in the valleys between the illegal fishermen and the guards. They are opposed to each other but also strictly bond by poverty. They share the same miserable living conditions: the guards as well as the illegal fishermen have to keep to what they do in order to make a living but then at the local inn in the evening they all seat around the same table.