Shades of Truth

“Shades of Truth”, a film that dares to say the unsayable.
A movie that wants to deliver the truth about Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust.

A journalist investigates

The main role is played by American actor David Wall. It slips into the shoes of David Milano, an Italo-American journalist of Jewish origin.

David is convinced, as many other people, that Pius XII was indifferent to the Jewish problem during World War II. But, after a harsh discussion with Sarah, the woman he wants to marry, he takes conscience that maybe he is wrong. This, added to the fact that his publisher charges him to write an article about the Black Legends of the Catholic Church, and much more to the point with an article about Pius XII, bring him to start an investigation about the life of this Pope.

He starts where all that began, in Rome and the Vatican. With his old friend, Roberto Savinelli, a Catholic priest and kenjutsu champion, played by the German actor Gedeon Burkhard (“Unglorious Basterds” by Quentin Tarantino; “Cobra”; “Commissioner Rex”), David has the opportunity to meet some remarkable clergy members, like the Cardinal Salvemini, played by Christopher Lambert. The Cardinal, who is the postulator for the cause of beatification of Pius XII, helps David through the complicated secrets of the Vatican. He studies documents, meets people and sees old footage about the WWII period and the involvement of Pius XII.

He discovers the story of Israel Zoll, chief rabbi of Rome during the Nazi occupation, who collaborated with Pius XII in the rescue of the Jews. Zoll, at the end of the war, asked to be baptized and took the name Eugenio Zolli, out of admiration toward Pope Pacelli, whose first name was Eugenio.

His research for the truth becomes a spiritual research of himself, his convictions and prejudices. He understands that the courage of changing opinion can give sense to his life.

Finally he discovers a shocking truth about his family: this will be the last piece of a puzzle that when completed will give him peace and will help him to win back the woman he loves.


In order to write the script, Liana Marabini analyzed more than 100,000 historical documents and countless testimonies of survivors and people who are descendents of survivors.

This is not the first time a film focuses on the life of this Pope. The play “The Vicar” by the German playwriter Rolf Hochhuth, or the controversial film “Amen” by the Greek Costa Gavras, released in 2002, had reinforced the image of a Pope cowardly and conciliatory close to Hitler. But “Shades of Truth” by Liana Marabini is the first film that gives a positive image of the Pope. The film reportes that Pope Pius XII saved more than 800,000 Jews during the war.

Pius XII – a controversial Pope

Pius XII (Prince Eugenio Pacelli), was the head of the Catholic Church from the 2nd of March 1939 until his death in 1958. He therefore had the burden of leading the Christian community during the World War II and at the beginning of the Cold War. For many historians, he would have to speak more strongly against the massacre of Jews. They sustain that he condemned the excesses of the war, but he did not blame Hitler enough, in order to avoid the aggravation of the tyranny and the exposure of the Catholics in the occupied Europe.

Pius XII explains his position in his first encyclical Summi Pontificatus issued in 1939. He confirms the convictions of Pius XI against all forms of racism. He implicitly made a stand against Nazism, fascism, communism and liberalism, without naming them. The printing and distribution of this text has been banned. The New York Times reproduced the whole encyclical under the tile: “The Pope condemns dictators, treaty violators, racism. He urges the urgent recovery of Poland”.

But the case against him as: remaining silent while more than a thousand Jews of Rome were rounded up and deported to the ghetto located near the Vatican, on the other side of the Tiber. For some historians even if he did not stop this raid, the pontiff still saved tens of thousands of Italian Jews. And as a whole, the Catholic Church under Pope Pius XII saved more than 800,000 Jews, defended by Jewish historians such as Sir Martin Gilbert, the specialist of the Holocaust and the main mentor for Liana Marabini. Many religious institutions, inspired by Pius XII, opened their doors to hide Jews and save their lives.

A controversial film

So the mystery planes again and opinions continue to differ. In 2009 the debate was revived. Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of Pius XII paving the way for a possible beatification. In 2014, Pope Francis asked the complete opening of the Vatican archives that shed light on this story. The Vatican has published numerous documents highlighting the help that the Church has granted to the Jews.

The Jewish Pave the Way Foundation, through its founder Gary Krupp, published a book that brings together numerous testimonies, newspaper articles and lists of documents that demonstrate the enormous work of rescue performed by Pius XII and the Catholic Church in favor of the Jews.

“Shades of Truth” is a subject of controversy, like any artistic creation inspired to Pius XII. The film has produced a great curiosity at an international level.


In Cannes the film will be screened in five cinemas in the Palace of Festivals and also in the town.

Newspapers, whether secular (“Corriere della Sera”, “Times of Israel,” “The Point”, the Evening News of the Italian Television) or Catholics (“Radio Vaticana”, “Cultures and Faith – quarterly magazine of the Vatican “,” La Vie”) welcome it as a creation of courage, although controversial and emphasize the seriousness of the documentation that the director has consulted for 5 years to write this movie.

Title: Shades of Truth

Written and Directed by Liana Marabini

Length: 92′

DOP: Luca Silvagni

Cast: David Wall, Gedeon Burkhard, Jennifer Mischiati, Remo Girone, Gincarlo Giannini, Victoria Zinny, Marie-Christine Barrault, Christopher Lambert.

Produced by Condor Pictures in association with Liamar Media World.