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Research Article

Out in the open and invisible: the city as archive in the essay film San Sabba

Published online: 19 Oct 2021


Independent filmmaking is often faced with difficulties. For the team behind San Sabba, the issue resided in the invisibilities embedded in the film’s location: a concentration camp within the city of Trieste. This article will explore how and why the writer and director of San Sabba considered Trieste as an archive of multiple histories, memories, and postmemory due to the historical findings the film is based on, and how silenced history informed a phenomenological examination of what a landscape can add to the collective memory. Linking other locations in the city, which contribute to the elucidation of stories and histories deprived of public attention, this article analyses the historical data and considers the ontological qualities of the landscape as an archive where dominant narratives impact the understandings of present and past identities.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

Additional information

Notes on contributors

Romana Turina

Romana Turina is Senior Lecturer in Film at the Arts University Bournemouth, UK, and she holds a PhD by Creative Practice in Theatre, Film and Television from the University of York, UK. Romana previously taught screenwriting at the University of Indianapolis (US), the University of York and the University of Greenwich (UK). She is the leader of the Research Group ‘Essay Film’, which operates within the framework of the British Association of Film, Television an Screen Studies (BAFTSS). She has published chapters and articles on silenced history, cultural geographies, and film studies. Examples of her research on film are Lunch with Family (Turina, 2016a Turina, R. (2016a). Lunch with Family [film]. Printing press. [Google Scholar]), nominated for the Art and Humanities Research Council Awards, UK; and San Sabba (Turina, 2016b Turina, R. (2016a). Lunch with Family [film]. Printing press. [Google Scholar]), a finalist at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards.

Correction Statement

This article has been republished with minor changes. These changes do not impact the academic content of the article.

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