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UPDATED: Mussolini’s Granddaughter Gives The Film A Thumbs Down

Romanian actress Monica Birladeanu and director Bobby Paunescu at the Venice Film Festival
Romanian actress Monica Birladeanu and director Bobby Paunescu at the Venice Film Festival
Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, has threatened to sue the makers of a film that claims she wants to have Romanian immigrants killed.

Mussolini is seeking legal damages and possibly the seizure of the Romanian film “Francesca,” which screened at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday.

In one scene, an elderly Romanian man tries to persuade his daughter to abandon her dream of emigrating to Italy and warns her that "[Alessandra] Mussolini is a sow who wants to kill all the Romanians."

Mussolini, a parliamentarian in Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi's conservative People of Freedom party, said, “This sort of tone must not be used, whether it is for art or not for art."

Director Bobby Paunescu defended his decision to include the words in the film, which denounces the xenophobia directed toward Romanian immigrants in Italy.

The wave of xenophobia against Romanians rose in the wake of the 2007 rape and murder of a housewife in Rome by an ethnic Roma from Romania.

Romanians are now Italy's largest immigrant community, numbering more than 340,000, according to official figures

Paunescu told the Italian daily "La Republica" that "Mussolini has said Romanians have the urge to commit rape in their DNA, which is a crazy thing."

“Francesca” garnered applause during its public screening in Venice, where it is not running in the official competition but has been included in the Orizzonti (Horizons) section.

The Venice Film Festival runs through September 12.

UPDATE: Mussolini appears to have won the first round in what looks like a protracted dispute. The distributors say they won't publicly screen the film until a court issues its decision.

-- Eugen Tomiuc

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