This documentary reconstructs the painful stages that led thousands of soldiers to face the ordeal of mental illness, after experiencing the trenches, the assaults, the gas and the air raids during the First World War. The delusions, the motor dysfunctions and the loss of self, which is known as “fight shock”, tormented the men of all armies engaged on the battlefield. The sick, accused of being cowards and traitors by the superior ranks, were sent back to the frontline by military doctors who treated them with electric shocks and hypnosis, but the soldiers reacted by falling even deeper into the abyss of madness, mute and forgotten wrecks of history. The interviews of the experts, the repertoire of films found in archives across Europe, the unpublished photographs and the medical records of those times give us a painstaking insight into a part of the First World War so far little investigated. “Scemi di guerra” (fools of war), was the popular definition of these people affected by symptoms that are similar to what today affects one out of five war veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The film was produced by Vivo film and the Autonomous Province of Trento, in collaboration with the History Museum of Trentino and the War Museum of Rovereto. Scemi di guerra was made with the support of the Piemonte Doc Film Found for Rti Spa and Fox International Channel, Italy.
Enrico Verra lives and works in Turin. He graduated in history and criticism of cinema at the University of Turin. He attended the video-documentary school directed by Daniele Segre and Gianni Volpi. He began as assistant director with Davide Ferrario, Guido Chiesa, Daniele Segre and Bruno Bigoni. In 1991 he made his debut as director with Real Falchera F.C. for which he was awarded the Golden Seagull in Bellaria in the same year. In 1994 Il Sig. Rossi prese il fucile was awarded at the International Festival of Turin. In 1999 he received the European Academy Award, shorts section, with Benvenuto in San Salvario. In 2005 he made his first full-length film, Sotto il Sole Nero, which won first prize the same year at the 28th Festival du Film Italien Villerupt and at the 2nd Cimameriche Film Festival in Genoa, as well as receiving the prize for best direction at the 9th Festival Cinema Italiano Opere prime (for debut films), in Gallio (Vicenza), all in 2005. With Vivo film he made his latest documentary, Scemi di Guerra. La follia nelle trincee in 2008. His filmography as a director includes: La città che corre (2006), Sotto il sole nero (2005), Benvenuto in San Salvario, (1999), No man’s land (1995), il Sig. Rossi prese il fucile (1994) and Real Falchera (1991).