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“If Only I Were That Warrior“ a feature documentary film focusing on the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1935. Following the recent construction of a monument dedicated to Fascist general Rodolfo Graziani, the film addresses the unpunished war crimes he and others committed in the name of Mussolini’s imperial ambitions. The stories of three characters, filmed in present day Ethiopia, Italy and the United States, take the audience on a journey through the living memories and the tangible remains of the Italian occupation of Ethiopia — a journey that crosses generations and continents to today, where this often overlooked legacy still ties the fates of two nations and their people. If Only I Were That Warrior won the 'Imperdibili' award at Festival dei Popoli 2015 and was awarded the 2016 Italian Golden Globe for best documentary. It has been selected at top film festivals around the world, screened at leading universities such as Yale, Brown, Columbia and NYU, and aired on public television in Italy and Switzerland.

A great tool for courses in:

  • Italian Studies

  • Africana Studies

  • Postcolonial Studies

  • Race & Ethnic Studies

  • Modern & Contemporary History

  • Cultural Studies

  • Immigration Studies

Your University Library can purchase a copy at

VALERIO CIRIACI – Director / Producer
ISAAK LIPTZIN – Producer / Cinematographer
LUIGI PORTO – Sound Design
In collaboration with:


Director’s Statement


The idea for If Only I Were That Warrior took shape in February 2013, after I attended a panel discussion in New York about the recently inaugurated monument to Rodolfo Graziani. I was struck by the heartfelt anger and indignation voiced by the Ethiopians who were present that day. Their stories spoke of atrocities carried out in the name of my country, and I realized how little I knew, as an Italian, about our colonial ventures in Africa.


I began to read about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. I learned how Fascist propaganda told the Italian masses that Ethiopia was their rightful “place in the sun.” I learned about the war crimes committed in the name of Mussolini’s imperial ambitions. In Italy these events belong to a chapter in history that is often overlooked in schoolbooks and obscured by revisionist myths. For decades, Italians saw themselves as italiani brava gente (Italians, good people), an expression suggesting Italians were kinder and more tolerant compared to other colonial powers. As I continued my research, the question that I kept returning to was: how can Graziani, who is remembered as ‘the Butcher of Ethiopia’, be honored in Italy with a public monument? How was this monument approved in a country where Fascism is constitutionally banned? This film is my attempt to unravel these questions.


I didn’t want to make a historical film, but rather a film about history: a malleable substance, subject to many different narrations. That’s why the film is primarily set in the present day, revolving around the memories of different communities, focusing on points of contact and contrast. Filming in Italy, in Ethiopia and in the United States, it became clear to me that the legacy of this conflict — unresolved and often controversial — still binds these nations and their people.


80 years after the invasion of Ethiopia, the case of Affile challenges us to take a first step towards better understanding the past and sharing its burdens. My hope is that “If Only I Were That Warrior” can spark a dialog about this common history — a dialog we have been avoiding for too long.


  • Valerio Ciriaci


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