Marco Bellochio presents “Vincere” in Competition

Bellocchio vies for the Palme d'Or with film on Mussolini's mistress

Marco Bellocchio and the Cannes Festival have loved one another for years. Nine of his features have been selected here, the two most recent being My Mother’s Smile in 2002 and The Wedding Director in 2006. In 2007, he served on the Jury. Now, the Italian filmmaker returns to the Competition to present Vincere, which sheds light on an obscure aspect of Mussolini’s private life. Before the outbreak of World War I, the future fascist dictator, an Italian soldier and a fervent Socialist, lived a double life. In addition to his wife, he had a mistress, Ida Dalser. She gave birth to a son by him, Benito Albino, whom he recognized and then denied. In the postwar years, when Mussolini was chief of the Italian state, young Ida continually petitioned for her rights as legitimate wife of Il Duce and mother of his eldest son, but she was always brutally pushed aside. Her child was institutionalized.

Giovanna Mezzogiorno stars as Ida. She has also appeared in One Last Kiss (2001) and Last Chance Saloon (2004). Bellocchio outlines his intentions in making Vincere, stating: “I wasn’t interested in highlighting and exposing the vileness of the Fascist regime. However, I was greatly struck by this woman and her absolute refusal to accept any kind of compromise. After all, she could have agreed to go back into the shadows and perhaps, may have been generously rewarded, which happened with so many other mistresses of Mussolini’s. But she wouldn’t accept that. She wanted to lay claim to an identity of her own. She couldn’t bring herself to accept the betrayal of this man, one whom, as she wrote in her letters, she had loved deeply and to whom she had given everything including all her assets.”