By Federico SCHIAVI, Gian Paolo PALOMBINI


Documentary - Pre-Production 2013

“Togliatti(grad)” wants to evoke the difficult and fascinating saga of the birth of a city in the heart of the Soviet empire, but also the experimental creation of a group of workers related to this story because of ideological, professional or sentimental reasons.

    • Year of production
    • 2013
    • Genres
    • Documentary, Historical
    • Countries
    • ITALY
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 0.3 - 0.6 M$
    • Duration
    • 100 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Federico SCHIAVI, Gian Paolo PALOMBINI
    • Writer(s)
    • Gian Paolo PALOMBINI
    • Producer(s)
    • Federico SCHIAVI (NACNE sas), Laura ROMANO (Suttvuess scrl)
    • Synopsis
    • “Togliatti(grad)” will reconstruct the birth of the city of Togliatti, founded in the Samara region, a thousand miles east of Moscow as the result of an agreement between the Soviet Union president Breznev and the Fiat owner Giovanni Agnelli.
      In the 60’s this “unnatural” couple planned to create a global hub of the cars in the heart of Communist Russia and, all around, a new town having the name of Palmiro Togliatti, the carismatic leader of the Italian Communist Party, may be the worst enemy of the Italian capitalism after the 2nd world war.
      It was an economic, strategic and diplomatic deal that compared two worlds and two opposite ideas of progress. At the same time it was one of the largest urban and industrial enterprises of the twentieth century: in a few years, a city of one million residents was born around the plants of "ziguly", the Soviet car derived from Fiat 124.
      Togliatti was built between 1967 and 1973 thanks to the fundamental contribution of hundreds of western workers, coming mostly from Turin-Mirafiori plants and from Germany, but also, on the other side, thanks to the Soviet workers coming from all over the Union.
      Italians were sent to Russia by Fiat for the first phase of the project; among them there were technicians, skilled workers, economists, managers, cooks, and one priest.
      Through the direct experiences of the protagonists, and through a formidable historical footage, the documentary will tell this special experience using a powerful instrument: the detailed diary of the italian priest, Father Galasso and he one of the director of the Factory (found by one of hies relatives last year).
      The diaries and the direct testimonies describe every aspect of life of that unusual community: the marriages between Italians and Russians, the failed romantic relationships, the parties held on Saturday at the gym of "ziguly" hotel, the transformation of it in a secret church every Sunday. Also it’s the testimony of a some personal disillusions about socialims. Galasso and the others are indeed careful narrators of the rhythms and dynamics of work, the cases of depression and alcoholism, the difficult adaptation to the climate and the necessity to solve and overcome problems.
      Out of the assembly line the western workers experienced the Russian Christmas, the trips on the Volga river, many moments of friendship with the Soviet workers. Many home movies and some Russian archive images tell these moments. Also the relations with the religious authorities and believers of the Orthodox Church (which, in Breznev's Russia , continued to operate under very special conditions: the liturgies were tolerated but were strictly prohibited from proselytizing) gave rise to moments of real sharing of experiences as well as ambiguous and dangerous situations with the agents of the KGB.
      In Togliatti, in a few years, cinemas, theaters, public parks were created, and also an embryonic market economy started attracting the attention of the international community and the intellectual world; the writer and chemist Primo Levi went there and found inspiration for his literary work, and even the actor Alberto Sordi, popular in the USSR, decided to shoot with Cesare Zavattini a film in Togliatti.
      The construction of the plant was finished in 1973 generating much criticism, both east and west of the Iron Curtain, for the unusual organizational and management model, too socialist for some and too capitalist for others.
      But all this, despite the controversy surrounding the loss of FIAT revenues in subsequent years, continued to be defended by Giovanni Agnelli, the prince of the Italian capitalists, for its symbolic content. It’s a fact that most of the cars produced in the USSR in the following years came from Togliatti.
      In Europe and in Italy this is a forgotten story. The name of the town, among the communist ones, survived the USSR dissolution, may be because Togliatti is a name that doesn’t remember anything to many Russians or may be because it remembers a very special moment in Russian history for others.
      The plants are still working even after the crisis caused by the dissolution of the Soviet empire, and recently some brands, including Chrysler, Lada and Renault, have signed partnership agreements with the company which took over the plant to renovate the production; Togliattigrad is still one of the main producer of cars in the world.
      The town was for many years the youngest metropolis in the world (26 years, average age), a genuine international unprecedented laboratory-community that was able to self-organize between two ideologies and two powerful propaganda machines, so even after 40 years this story is alive.
    • Partners & financing
    • looking for Russian coproducer
      looking for German coproducer
    • Beginning of shooting
    • Apr 01, 2013