Il nemico - un breviario partigiano

The Enemy - A Partisan Hymnbook

by Federico Spinetti

A gunshot echoes from 1944, leading post-punk musician Massimo Zamboni to uncover his family’s past. Private memories collide with collective history as a new musical project is born. The Enemy – A Partisan Hymnbook is a music documentary about the memory of the Italian WWII Resistance.


Fifteen years after the break-up of the historic Italian post-punk band C.S.I, the band’s guitarist and co-founder Massimo Zamboni calls back the other members for a new musical project about the memory of the Italian WWII partisan resistance. Rather than a reunion, this may be a new beginning. At the request of director Federico Spinetti, the musicians gather in the mesmerizing architecture of the Social Theatre of Gualtieri, a town in the Po Valley replete with memories of the war. Zamboni hands out a text to be set to music: The Enemy. The musicians allow the cameras in and their creative process becomes the soundtrack of the film, together with new songs and live performances of their classics. The Enemy – A Partisan Hymnbook portrays the new musical journey of post-C.S.I. and the research and reflections of Massimo Zamboni as he uncovers his family history, tragically marked by a partisan gunshot in 1944. Private memories collide with collective history as the musicians interrogate the memory of the WWII Resistance and its meaning today.


Through the family history of Massimo Zamboni we tried to delve into a number of difficult themes related to the Resistance, a process that Massimo had already undertaken in his book The Echo of a Gunshot. We met many times in the countryside of Reggio Emilia and the reflections and discussions we shared provided the inspiration for the film. The Enemy – A Partisan Hymnbook doesn’t search for answers: it rather has the ambition to interrogate, and doesn’t shy away from facing the past. For example, it addresses the issue of partisan violence, and does so with compassion and hopefully without rhetoric. Above all we chose to highlight the collision between family belonging and ethical-political allegiance: Massimo, an antifascist, faced a long-kept family secret and came to terms with the political choices of his grandfather, a fascist killed by the partisans. This is a music documentary that ventures into the memory and the history of the Italian Resistance. What does it mean for the musicians of Post-CSI and for us today to relate back to the partisan struggle? What screams, what whispers, what insights can arise from an uncompromising encounter with history? What form of artistic expression can convey how unsettling and how equally comforting oblivion can be? What music can speak of the necessity and the uneasiness of harbouring a clear, burning desire for continuity? We emphasized the interplay between history and memory, between the Resistance and its representations, with a view to evoke and stir, rather than declare or persuade. The sequences capturing Post-C.S.I. composing the song The Enemy have provided an important framework for the film. In a sense, their work serves as a metaphor for the conflict between different perspectives regarding the Resistance, and ultimately for the possibility to arrive at a common, unwavering sensibility. (Federico Spinetti)


Federico Spinetti is professor and director of research in Ethnomusicology at the University of Cologne, Germany. He has conducted research in post-Soviet Central Asia (Tajikistan), Iran, Bosnia and Italy, focusing on the political economy of music, on music and architecture, and on the history of cultural relations across the Mediterranean. He currently leads a large-scale research project on the memory of WWII resistance and antifascist legacies in the music of contemporary Italy and Europe. Central to his activities, he has directed documentary films in collaboration with Lab 80 film: Zurkhaneh – The House of Strength: Music and Martial Arts of Iran (2010/2014), And the mountains float up like feathers (2013), The Enemy – A Partisan Hymnbook (2015).


Founded in 1976, Lab 80 film initially specialized in the cinema theatre distribution of films by authors such as Wajda, Has, Fassbinder, Herzog and Wenders, which at the time circulated primarily at international festivals and were largely unknown to the Italian public. The project grew further with the distribution of classics such as Wilder, Tarkovskij, Lubitsch, and Truffaut. At the end of the 1990s Lab 80 film established its production department, which to date has carried out more than 80 documentary film productions. In an age when increased access to technologies and the proliferation of communication media may suggest that skills in the audio-visual field are fairly easy to acquire, Lab 80 film has opted for careful and highly professional design of documentary projects, in both their artistic and technical aspects. Lab 80 film has adopted various production strategies, with a number of fundamental common denominators: meticulous visual research, strong focus on social issues, and pursuit of narratives tackling key contemporary issues and conflicts.


32nd Meeting of the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology. University of Cagliari. Cagliari and Santu Lussurgiu, 20-25 September 2016.

10th International Symposium “Music in Society”. Musicological Society of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Academy of Music, University of Sarajevo. Sarajevo, 20-22 October 2016.

Society for Ethnomusicology 61st Annual Meeting. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the George Washington University. Washington, DC, 10-13 November 2016.

Royal Anthropological Institute 15th International Festival of Ethnographic Film. Festival Film Library. Watershed Cinema. Bristol, 29 March–1 April 2017.

International Association for the Study of Popular Music 19th Biennial Conference. University of Kassel. Kassel, June 26-30, 2017.

International Council for Traditional Music 44th World Conference. Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick. Limerick, 13-19 July 2017.

Country: Italy
Year: 2015
Running time: 80'
Format: DCP, Blu Ray
Language: italiano
Subtitles: inglesi
Genre: documentary
Cinematography: Andrea Zanoli
Editing: Alberto Valtellina
Music: Post Csi (Zamboni, Baraldi, Canali, Maroccolo, Magnelli, Filippi)
With: Massimo Zamboni, Angela Baraldi, Giorgio Canali, Gianni Maroccolo, Francesco Magnelli, Simone Filippi, Mirco Zanoni, Massimo Storchi, Daniela Algeri, Caterina Zamboni
Produced by: Alberto Valtellina per Lab 80 film

Festival: Sguardi sul Reale, Arezzo 2015
SeeYouSound, Torino 2015
Festival della filosofia, Modena 2015

Press materials