E Io

Status: in development
Budget: 3 million euros
Audience: Woman 60%( 28-60), Man 40%(16-60)
Main country:SUA, Italy, Romania, UK

What is life?

Year 1942

This is the story of Ladislau Iosif Szabo, Pavel, Angelo Pannocchia, Zanetello Ettore, Pacifico Andrea, destinies intertwined in the confrontations of World War II in the Stalingrad battle campaign. Their destinies seem to remain tied to the hand extended almost at the last breath of life.

The movie aims to show that beyond political constraints and military orders, above all of these is humanity and that the war of nations is not of people but of the interests of individuals who do not consider the human spirit and people’s need to be solidary and loved. Angelo Pannocchia defies everything and appeals to the human principle of saving Ladislau.

In the disorganized retreat after the failed military campaign at Stalingrad, with the regiment shattered by the Russians’ offensive, two friends, Pavel and Ladislau, decide to head home. On the way, due to difficult conditions and exposure to risks, they decide to separate, with one heading west and the other south. A helping hand is about to change their fate for their entire life. Ladislau catches the hand of Angelo Pannocchia, while the other catches the hand of destiny.


The movie’s action begins in Italy, with Angelo’s family and the atmosphere of those days. After introducing Angelo, the action shifts to the political spectrum, presenting the turmoil, lack of information, and disorganization in the warring camps.

The film then focuses on Pavel’s enlistment and follows Ladislau’s regiment’s journey alongside the Nazi regiment. They stop at a well, where Ladislau offers a piece of chocolate to a Ukrainian woman. She signals him not to drink the water, and later, everyone who drinks it dies. The film then concentrates on the atmosphere in the offices of Mussolini, Hitler, Antonescu, Stalin, and American generals. We feel the tension created by the lack of solutions and unexpected situations and then move to the atmosphere of trench explosions on the battlefield, where reports of horror prevail.

We see Angelo, Ettore, and Andreea desperately looking for solutions to stop the Russian advance. The action then moves to the Romanian positions, which are being slaughtered by Russian artillery. Ladislau begins to curse in Italian, to everyone’s surprise, as he is actually a Romanian of German origin.

A powerful explosion shakes him, and Ladislau is lifted by the collar with both hands by Pavel, who asks him hysterically: “Are you alive? Are you alive?”. It’s the first time they meet, but it feels like they’ve known each other for a lifetime.

No one knows what to do; the only thing on their minds is to find the command point, but everything is destroyed, and Stalingrad is surrounded. They understand that they are on their own now and decide to head home. They take shelter and start hoping to see something familiar and meet other Romanians who can help them find a way to survive. Three to four people were needed for survival: one to handle observations and ensure security, another to keep watch, and one to search for food. The next few days are dedicated to survival and finding solutions for heating. That’s when they meet Ettore, who dies shortly after being shot in the head by Russian snipers while searching for food. At that moment, they decide to go in different directions, Ladislau to the east and Pavel to the south. As they walk in the snow, in extreme cold, Ladislau falls and is about to give up, but then he hears a voice shouting from a truck that was retreating: “Ci sono italiani qui?” (“Are there Italians here?”). Angelo, from the truck, heard Ladislau’s response: “E io” (“And me”).

The movie’s action then shifts from Angelo to Pavel, who searches for survivors to be his companions on the journey. He sees a bunker and heads towards it, where he falls asleep. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a Russian truck that is gathering survivors to send them to a camp.

Chapter 1

Italy and Romania under Hitler’s Grip

In a terrible moment in European history, the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact was secretly signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, leading to the partition of Poland and Romania between the two powers. The USSR shamelessly claimed Romanian territory and launched a campaign to destroy Romanian culture and national values. While Romania attempted to protect Polish refugees and the Polish bank’s treasure, Ion Gigurtu’s government introduced antisemitic legislation, and the Axis powers forced Romania to cede half of Transylvania to Hungary, and Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria. In a world where the great powers pursued their own interests, Romania was a martyr country, and the Romanian people were subjected to atrocities and persecutions. In Italy, Mussolini blindly threw himself into the war on the Eastern Front, trying to demonstrate his military power. However, it was a complete disaster for the Italian troops, who suffered losses that were hard to bear in their useless campaign in the Soviet Union. Eventually, the Italian troops collapsed entirely, and Mussolini was forced to withdraw his army from Russian soil.

“We were young and enthusiastic about victory, we didn’t know the overall situation, the war had not yet settled into our bones[…] The first sounds of war were heard in the distance. As we walked, the air began to feel thick, and it seemed like every particle of oxygen was charged with the DNA of death.” – Pavel 1972

Italy was facing a military disaster in its war against the Allies, and it was clear that the situation was desperate. In this situation, Hitler decided to offer his help to Mussolini, but with one condition: to accept Germany’s total control over Italian military operations. Mussolini was forced to accept this condition, and thus, Germany took control of the Italian army.

Hitler sent additional German forces to Italy to assist the Italians in their fight against the Allies, but these German forces were actually sent there to take control of the Italian army. Eventually, Hitler succeeded in convincing Mussolini to join the war as a member of the Axis powers, and Italy became one of Hitler’s allies in his quest for domination in Europe.

Hitler sent additional German forces to Italy to assist the Italians in their fight against the Allies, but these German forces were actually sent there to take control of the Italian army. Ultimately, Hitler was able to convince Mussolini.

Chapter 2

Szabó, Pavel, Angelo, Ettore, and Andrea in Stalingrad.

In September 1942, the Soviet High Command (Stavka) developed a plan for a Soviet counteroffensive known as Operation Uranus in the Stalingrad area, with the aim of encircling and annihilating the German 6th Army. The plan consisted of two powerful strikes in sectors located far from each other, launched by a group composed of three fronts – “Southwest,” “Don,” and “Stalingrad.” The action was scheduled for November 13, but Stalin decided to postpone it to November 19 and 20, 1942. In the morning of November 19, powerful groupings of Soviet forces from the “Southwest” and “Don” fronts went on the offensive, carrying out actions from the Bolshoi and Kletkaia bridgeheads. The attack was a complete success, leading to the encirclement and destruction of the German 6th Army. The plan for the Soviet counteroffensive was established before the Romanian 3rd and 4th Armies entered into formation, which refutes speculations that the Soviet High Command fixed the main coordinates of the plan based on the disposition of the Romanian troops, whose weak combat capacity was known.

“The earth trembles, creaks in its joints, burns in flames, groans in pain. People, spasmed with terror, stand glued in trenches, crowded together as if they want to die together… Everything around us is only lightning and thunder, flame and smoke, lament and cry. The faces of the soldiers no longer had anything human about them, they make desperate crosses, some pray on their knees.” – Ladislau Iosif Szabó

The Italian Army on the Eastern Front was not prepared for this type of conflict, with peasant soldiers and corrupt officers who lacked concern for their troops. The Italian infantry did not have enough weapons and had to walk in their movements, while their tanks were undersized and could not withstand the Soviet tanks. The Italians had to receive German support even to fight the British and ultimately failed to face the Red Army. Despite initial successes against disorganized Soviets, Italian soldiers could not withstand the winter of 1941-1942 without German support. During the Blue Operation in the summer of 1942, the Italians advanced together with the Germans but were weakened by weather conditions and Soviet counterattacks. The 8th Italian Army was left without German support and found itself facing the Soviet counteroffensive. Eventually, the 8th Italian Army was encircled and destroyed in the Battle of Stalingrad. “On November 25, 1942, we were the target of bombardments for a long period of time, from sunrise to sunset. Combat guns, artillery, and brandt shells bombarded us with direct hits, while the rest of the shells fell behind us at a distance of 100-200 meters. This day was the hardest for us so far, with 38 losses, most of them being deaths. Russian infantry tried to attack us five times, but each time they retreated into pits. In front of the III machine gun platoon, which flanked the ravine,” Pavel, Stalingrad,  25 noiembrie 1942

Chapter 3

The Road Home.

At that moment, the Alpine Corps held tight after the first rupture of the Line of Corps II, and a few days after the Romanian and German collapse, an Italian military aid with Ciano asked a German officer if the Italians had suffered heavy losses. The German officer replied, “No loss at all. They all ran away.”

In March 1943, all Italian units serving on the Eastern Front were transferred to Italy for reforming and re-equipping, but they never returned to Russia. The heavy losses of the 3rd Alpine Division are indicative of those suffered by Italian units in the fight against the Red Army. The Division departed for Russia with 16,000 men and 4,000 mules and returned to Italy with 3,200 men and 40 mules.



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