Once Upon a Time…Rome, Open City

This is to be the first in an informal series of screenings, discussions, and lectures Idiom will be presenting in New York City.

“All roads lead to Rome, Open City,” declared Jean-Luc Godard.

“Yes,” says Jonathon Kyle Sturgeon, “but all roads lead away from Open City as well.”

In an essay for the new film and electronic art section of Idiom, Sturgeon traces the hows and whys of what led to and away from Rome. Sturgeon argues that this“veritable ballet of reconnaissance,” which “dances to the music of life under occupation,” laid down themes that define cinema to this day, including that of a constant surveillance state in which life itself becomes spectacle.

We will be screening a documentary by filmmakers Marie Genin and Serge July about the genesis of Rossellini’s landmark film, which includes crucial interviews with key participants. The film examines the political and cinematic history of Rome Open City, which so memorably dramatized the WWII Italian resistance to the German occupation.

Jonathon Kyle Sturgeon is the assistant editor of n+1‘s film review, N1FR.

Tom McCormack is an editor at Alt Screen and the film and electronic art editor at Idiom. His writing has appeared in Moving Image Source, Film Comment, Cinema Scope, Rhizome, The Brooklyn Rail, and other publications.

Colin Beckett is a writer based in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Cineaste, The Brooklyn Rail, and various websites and blogs.

Icarus Films is a leading distributor of documentary films in North America. The company was started in 1978 and is dedicated to distributing films about people and ideas too often unseen or unheard. Although they specialize in social, political, and historical documentaries, their collection includes a wide range of films with varying creative approaches and themes. Icarus works with filmmakers and independent production companies from all around the world, seeking out films that provide innovative and informative views of a rapidly changing world.


Idiom is an online magazine of artistic and cultural practice. Idiom’s new film and electronic art section is dedicated to publishing long-form essays focusing on the avant-garde, the art-house, the gallery, and YouTube.

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