When Ida meets Mussolini in Milan, he is the editor of L’Avanti! and an ardent Socialist who intends to guide the masses towards an anti-clerical, anti-monarchical, socially emancipated future. Ida already had a fleeting encounter with him in Trento and remained thunderstruck. Ida truly believes in him and his ideas. In order to finance Il Popolo d’Italia, a newspaper he has founded and the nucleus of the forthcoming Fascist Party, Ida sells everything she has. When the First World War erupts, Benito Mussolini enrols in the Army and disappears. When Ida finds him again in a military hospital, he is tended to by Rachele whom he has just married. Ida lashes out at her rival furiously, demanding her rights as Mussolini’s true wife and the mother of his first-born son. She is led away by force. For more than eleven years, she is locked away in an insane asylum (and her son in an institute) where she is put under physical restraint and tortured, never to see her son again. But Ida will not give up without a fight...

Director's Statement

I wasn’t interested in highlighting and exposing the vileness of the Fascist regime. However, I was greatly struck by this woman and her absolute refusal to accept any kind of compromise. After all, she could have easily agreed to go back into the shadows and perhaps, may have been generously rewarded, which happened with so many other mistresses of Mussolini’s.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Marco Bellocchio

Written by: Daniela Ceselli, Marco Bellocchio

Produced by: Mario Gianani

Cinematography: Daniele Cipri’

Editing: Francesca Calvelli

Main Cast: Giovanna Mezzogiorno (Ida Dalser), Filippo Timi (Benito Mussolini), Michela Cescon (Rachele Guidi), Fausto Russo Alesi (Riccardo Paicher), Piergiorgio Bellocchio (Pietro Fedele)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actor 2009
  • European Film Academy Prix d'Excellence 2009
  • Feature Film Selection 2009