by Maria Pia Ammirati, RAI
The restoration of Vittorio Cottafavi’s film “Maria Zef” by RAI allowed to bring to light a work of undoubted historical and sociological value as it carefully recounts an Italian rural area of the beginning of the 1900s. Particular attention has been paid to the care and future preservation of physical films. All the processing phases were carried out with particular attention to not compromising the original message that the director wanted to communicate to the public and this involved working for over two months.
Mariute, the name of the protagonist in the Friuli dialect, is Rosute’s elder sister. The two sisters are now orphans and have been taken in by Uncle Barbe Zef, a mountain dweller whom poverty has made particularly nasty. He takes them to an isolated house where they are to live a life of sacrifice and hardship. The sisters are subjected to constant exploitation. When Mariute finds herself alone because her sister has had to stay in hospital, the harassment turns into extreme violence and incest, in a brutal, inescapable spiral.