We Were Good People has been profoundly influenced by both Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing and Italian post-war cinema.
«The tradition of cinema is dominated by films about good versus evil, “good guys” fighting “bad guys”. But good guys and bad guys only exist in stories. In reality, every act of evil in history has been committed by human beings like us» (Joshua Oppenheimer)
Italian post-war cinema is no exception. All the films released in Italy after WWII are funded on the so called “italiani brava gente” (Italians, good folks) myth. In these films, the “evil forces” are always represented by the Nazi occupier, while the Italians people are pictured as the victims of their atrocities. Surprisingly enough, very rarely the fascists come into the picture.
«From Roberto Rossellini’s Open City (1945) to Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful (1999) there presentation of the Italian-fascist past has served as the most powerful tool to consolidate an image of Italians as “brava gente” (good folks). In the eyes of themselves just as much as their liberators, Italians under fascism and during the war possessed a fundamental “banality of goodness” which put them and their heirs at arms’ distance from any criminal charge or collective responsibility for the Nazi-fascist past» (Claudio Fogu)
The goal of this film is to show that Italians are in fact neither good nor bad people. They are just people. Some of them believed in a reckless ideology, some of them just went along, some of the fought for a cause, and some of them were kids.
See the full documentary here: vimeo.com/85460268