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In 1939, four Italians embark on a journey through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, an experience they describe as the discovery of a new world. Among them, a travel writer captivated by the landscapes of the Baltic region, yet puzzled by its multi-ethnic cities. A feminist academic, devoted to Mussolini’s regime and engaged in a series of conferences on the superiority of italian culture. A fascist diplomat who admires Baltic struggles for freedom but also endorses their authoritarian ships. Lastly, a socialist newspaper correspondent, branding the three states as mere puppets of Western imperialism.
Through the flawed lenses of these characters, we witness the complex Baltic societies of that era. However, as the Nazi-Soviet occupation engulfs neighboring Poland, a new war erupts in the heart of Europe, forcing the Italians to realize that the world they just began to explore might vanish soon.
Baltic Interval tells two stories, one Baltic and one Italian, which intertwine to form a kaleidoscopic portrait of 1930s Europe. On the one hand, the film aims to reconstruct, through the exclusive use of archival footage, the image of a vanished world: the multiethnic and multi-cultural world of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which would later be swept away forever by Nazi and Soviet violence. On the other hand, it deconstructs the problematic nature – sometimes colonial, racist, or sexist – of the gazes through which the Baltic world is recounted in the film: those of the Italian reporters of the time, children of their Kme and of Mussolini's ideology.
We believe that this film can offer a glimpse into a reality that is very little known to Italian and Western European audiences – that of the three Baltic countries during their brief interlude of independence from Russian rule, first tsarist and then Soviet. Which today, in the context of the Russian war on Ukraine, can help to understand the demands of Eastern Europeans. At the same Kme, the film also stands as an introspective experience through Italian culture at the time of fascism, inviting viewers to confront the contradictions and problematic ideas that emerge from the protagonists' words.