A film which aims to rehabilitate the role of pope Pius XII (accused of passivity in the face of the Nazi genocide of Jews) will be screened at the Vatican in a worldwide preview on March 2nd, according to Italian media. “Shades of Truth”(“Ombres de vérité”) is a feature film by Italian film-maker Liana Marabini. She has made several other films about the Church. The cast includes Christophe Lambert and Marie-Christine Barrault (French), Gedeon Burkhard (German) and David Wall. The film should be presented at the Cannes Film Festival in spring but will not be running in any of the categories.
Panorama magazine and daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano write that the film is based on 100,000 pages of documents and testimonies, some of which are previously unpublished, from Holocaust survivors. The film tells the story of a post-war investigation by an Italo-American journalist of Jewish descent. He is convinced the pope befriended the Nazis but gradually sees things differently.
Many historians feel the pope should have been more forceful in condemning the massacre of Jews, instead of deciding not to for diplomatic reasons, and to protect Catholics in occupied Europe. The play The Curate (le Vicaire) by German playwright Rolf Hochhuth in 1963, and its film version (Amen) by Costa Gavras (Greek) in 2002, reinforce this image of a cowardly pope making concessions to Hitler. For other historians, although he did nothing to prevent large convoys of prisoners out of Rome to the extermination camps from 1943 onwards, he did save tens of thousands of Italian Jews by persuading many convents to harbour Jews.
The trailer for “Shades of Truth” states that he saved 800,000 Jews during the war.
In 2009, Benedict XVI triggered criticism from Jewish organisations by underlining the “heroic virtues” of Pius XII, paving the way for a possible beatification.