Jewish group slams Italy’s ‘Nazi’ wine

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging wine distributors to boycott the Italian company behind a range of wines emblazoned with images of dictators and Nazi slogans.

Jewish group slams Italy's 'Nazi' wine
Hitler Wine. Photo: Håvard Furulund

“Enough is enough,” Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, founder and dean and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, said in a statement.

The Rabbis are urging wine distributors in Italy and around the world “not to do any business with someone using the Nazi mass murderer as a blatant marketing tool.”

The statement comes a few days after The Local published a story about a Norwegian couple who stumbled across the wine, featuring images including Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, in a shop in the seaside resort of Rimini.

The Rabbis said they first protested against the wine when it was launched by Vini Lunardelli, a wine company in Udine, in 1995.

“Now an expanded line of wines that demean, diminish and mock Hitler's victims are promoted on a slick website.”

Alessandro Lunardelli, the wine company owner, told The Local last week that the range was intended as a ‘joke gift’ and was not meant to offend anyone. He said the wine is mainly purchased by tourists visiting Italy, although it’s also popular with foreigners buying online from abroad.

"We reject the cynical notion by the company's owner that this wine is marketed as "a joke gift", the Wiesenthal officials added.

"We agree totally with the sentiments expressed recently by a shocked Norweigian tourist when he found the wine on sale in Rimini, Italy.”

This isn’t the first time Vini Lunardelli has come under fire for what it calls its “historical range”.

A probe was launched last year following several other complaints from foreign tourists.

The Italian Integration Minister at the time, Andrea Riccardi, said “this offends the memory of millions of people and risks compromising the image of Italy abroad.”

Lunardelli told The Local that the investigation found the company not to be in the wrong as the wines weren’t intended to be “political or offensive, just marketing”.

The Rabbis concluded: "How sickening is it that such a company operates in a country which first embraced Fascism and later, when occupied by the Germans, saw many of its countrymen executed by the Nazi Third Reich?" 

Meanwhile, other tourists have confirmed to The Local that Third Reich wine was also being sold in a store in Lake Garda, northern Italy featuring images of Hitler and other leading generals from the Nazi era. The store, however, had erected a large sign around the wine telling tourists that taking pictures of the bottles was forbidden.

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Rimini celebrates centenary of legendary Italian director Federico Fellini

Italian resort Rimini this week marked 100 years since the birth of director Federico Fellini, whose visual dreamscapes revolutionised cinema in a career spanning almost half a century.

Rimini celebrates centenary of legendary Italian director Federico Fellini
A still from La Dolce Vita in the exhibition 'Fellini 100 : Immortal Genius'. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Dozens of events are being held around the world and in Italy this year to remember Fellini, considered one of the most influential filmmakers of all time.

The winner of a record four best foreign language film Oscars, he is famed for films set in Rome such as 'La Dolce Vita' (1960), and most of his films were shot in Cinecitta's Studio 5 outside the capital.

But he set his 1973 masterpiece 'Amarcord', a semi-autobiographical comedy about an adolescent boy growing up in 1930s fascist Italy, in the Adriatic resort of Rimini, where he was born on January 20th 1920.

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The city is marking the centenary with a special exhibition and is due to open a museum dedicated to Fellini, who died in 1993, by the end of the year.

“Rimini is everywhere in Fellini's cinema, the countryside in his films is Rimini's countryside, the sea in all Fellini's films is Rimini's sea,” said Marco Leonetti of the Rimini Cinematheque which helped put on the exhibition.

The show includes some of the more spectacular costumes from his films, as well as frequently erotic extracts from the sketchbooks of his dreams he created for his psychotherapist over a 30-year period.

Costumes on display at the 'Fellini 100 : Immortal Genius' exhibition. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

'The maestro from Rimini'

Originally an artist and caricaturist, Fellini paid to watch films as a child at Rimini's Fulgor cinema by drawing caricatures, and his films remain caricatures of society.

“If you take Fellini's films, like 'Amarcord', 'La Dolce Vita', 'I Vitelloni', when you watch them all, it's as if you're flicking through a history book, you travel through the history of our country, the history of Italy, from the 1930s to the 1980s,” Leonetti told AFP.

READ ALSO: Fellini's La Strada: a vision of masculinity and femininity that still haunts us today

Fellini was initially appreciated more abroad than in Italy, where he frequently scandalised the conservative society of the 1950s.

His films embodied a sense of irony, the ability to invent, and a sense of beauty, said Leonetti. “These are the three qualities of his art, qualities which also created 'made in Italy', and that's why Fellini, besides having told the story of our country the best, is also the person who best represents it,” he said.

A photograph of Federico Fellini. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Fellini has inspired generations of directors since, including Britain's Peter Greenaway and Spain's Pedro Almodovar. US director David Lynch, who shares the same birthday as Fellini, in 1997 declared his love for the “maestro from Rimini”.

“There's something about his films… They're so magical and lyrical and surprising and inventive. The guy was unique. If you took his films away, there would be a giant chunk of cinema missing,” Lynch told filmmaker Chris Rodley.

Fellini played “a shameless game of reflections and autobiographical projections” with his actors, the exhibition said.

The exhibition 'Fellini 100. Immortal genius' ends in March but will then travel to Rome and on to cities including Los Angeles, Moscow and Berlin.

By AFP's Charles Onians