gianni serra retrospective

Gianni Serra

Gianni Serra studied philosophy at the Governativa in Milan and during some years he dedicated himself to painting, practicing in the studio of his cousin, the painter Ernesto Treccani, along with two other young students, Ruggero Savinio and Lorenzo Tornabuoni. Together they go to Paris where Gianni Serra approaches cinema, at the instigation of the painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Georges Franju, director, journalist, animator of film clubs and co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française. Hundertwasser, at the beginning of his artistic career, wanted Serra to film the earth from the sky, to collect images similar to those he painted. Georges Franju in turn pushed him to make films.

Not even thirty, in the 50s Gianni Serra began to collaborate with Rai, in Milan, dealing with the direction of various programs, including La fiera dei sogni by Mike Bongiorno, Campanile sera and La Domenica Sportiva with Enzo Tortora. In parallel or immediately after he began to collaborate with RT Rotocalco Televisivo by Enzo Biagi and TV7, carrying out numerous investigations, such as I ragazzi di Arese, inspired by a report by Anna Maria Ortese, for the last issue of RT of 1968.

In 1979 he directed La ragazza di via Millelire, a harsh portrait of a 13 year old girl from the suburbs of Turin who prostitutes herself and takes drugs; the film, presented at the Venice Film Festival, aroused strong controversy for the harsh reality represented and the presence of numerous blasphemies.

His feature film Una lepre con la faccia di bambina (1988), based on the homonymous Laura Conti’s novel about the Seveso disaster, was broadcast as a TV miniseries on RAI, and was the subject of a parliamentary question by Roberto Formigoni because it allegedly defamed the Seveso community.

Gianni Serra lived in Rome with his wife Gioia Benelli; he died on September 3rd 2020.

Gianni Serra Retrospective – PerSo 2022

Fortezze vuote: Umbria, una risposta politica alla follia
by Gianni Serra, Italy, 1975, 90’

Tuesday, Oct. 04, National Archaeological Museum, Piazza Giordano Bruno, 10, 5 p.m.

Director: Gianni Serra 
DOP: Angelo Bevilacqua 
Editor: Laila Cella 
Music: Marco Zangarelli 
Production: Unitelefilm


The film is a documentary analysis of the ongoing restructuring of psychiatric hospitals in Umbria and is developed through the direct testimonies and narratives of patients, health care workers, and representatives of political and social bodies who are pursuing the elimination of one of the most dramatically closed institutions, the asylum, in order to reintegrate the patients into their own social environment.

Conceived and realized in close collaboration with the entire population concerned, through an “open” film structure, consistent with the methods followed in the ongoing experience in Umbria for the bottom-up construction of a new system of health and social services, Fortezze vuote is also configured as an experiment in film production different from the traditional production systems of the audiovisual industry.

The film was shown at the Venice Film Festival in 1975 and has participated in various film and science festivals in Italy and abroad.

Diario di un no
by Gianni Serra, Italy, 1974, 44’

Saturday, Oct. 08, Postmodernissimo Cinema, Via del Carmine 4, 3 p.m. ​​

Director: Gianni Serra
Screenwriter: Lucio Mandarà
DOP: Alberto Marrama
Editor: Giuliano Mattioli
Production: Sezione stampa e propaganda direzione PCI, Unitelefilm


This is a film investigation made on the occasion of the referendum on divorce in May 1974, conducted by actor Bruno Cirino and the boys who were featured in Vittorio De Seta’s television program Diario di un maestro.

Bruno Cirino – who was the teacher in De Seta’s film – and the boys from the Tiburtino III middle school in Rome participate in an autonomous and original way in the campaign for the no vote in the referendum.

The film follows the preparation of posters, leaflets and a questionnaire. It accompanies the procession as it travels through the neighborhood to organize a public assembly; it develops through a series of interviews with citizens, including particularly significant ones with a newly married couple who has just left the church and one with a divorced woman; it discusses the Sacra Rota, which has always had the power to cancel marriages and brings to light difficult family situations.


La ragazza di via Millelire
by Gianni Serra, Italy, 1980, 110’

Saturday, Oct. 08, Postmodernissimo Cinema, Via del Carmine 4, 9:30 p.m.

Director: Gianni Serra 
Screenwriters: Gianni Serra, Tomaso Sherman
DOP: Dario Di Palma
Editor: Maria Di Mauro
Music: Luis Bacalov
Production: RAI TV RETE DUE


Elisabetta Pellegrino, called Betty, is a 13 year old girl, who lives in the southern suburbs of Turin and has a family of southern immigrants who are unable to take care of her. Verdiana, one of the managers of a neighborhood meeting center, tries to look after her and repeatedly tries to insert her in a shelter, but in vain. Betty escapes every time, returning to her acquaintances: a small gang of thugs, who wants to push her into prostitution and to whom she hands over a peer to start on the sidewalk, and a boy from her area, who makes her rape by his friends.

La rete (1970)
Progetto Norimberga (1971)
Dedicato a un medico (1973)
Uno dei tre (1973)
Diario di un no (inchiesta cinematografica prodotta dal PCI in occasione del referendum sul divorzio, 1974)
Fortezze vuote (1975)
La ragazza di via Millelire (1980)