A Starry Sky Above Roman Ghetto
Italy, 2021
Directed by Giulio Base
Italian, English
100 minutes

Today, the Roman Ghetto is a four-square block area, a favourite haunt of Romans and foreign tourists alike, drawn to its many kosher and kosher-style restaurants. Located near the popular Trastevere district, the ghetto houses the Great Synagogue of Rome, a staid old reminder of the original residents of the community. And it is the young residents of the gentrified ghetto who are at the heart of this lovely, warmhearted film.  But the film begins in the dark reality of Black Saturday in Rome in 1943 when 1,259 Italian Jews, including 200 children, were rounded up by the Germans and their Italian collaborators and transported to their deaths at Auschwitz.  In this story, however, one little Jewish girl is rescued by a young nun and hidden in her convent. The film then jumps to the present, when a Roman high school student and her friend examine an old suitcase she purchased in a pawnshop, in which they find a yellowed letter and a faded photograph of a Sarah Cohen.  This leads them on their quest for Sarah’s story. Sophia and her friends, and several young Jewish men they met in her search, form an informal group to find the answer to their questions. Their parents are reluctant to support their adolescent children getting close to teens outside their faiths.  But they persist, and discover that Sara was adopted, never seen again by the current nuns at the convent.  The do locate an ailing old nun who has the answers.  Part detective story, part drama, and part interfaith love story, A “Starry Sky Above The Roman Ghetto” is an engaging film for all ages. Their remarkable discovery and the people they meet along the way set the stage, literally, for a satisfying and warm conclusion where the parents can join the students in honouring Sarah and the many Roman Jews rounded up and sent to their deaths during the war.