Italians protest details in Lee's 'Miracle'


ROME -- A group of former partisan soldiers are taking aim at Spike Lee for the way their former cause is being depicted in Lee's in-progress film "Miracle at St. Anna."

The $45 million film, based on the best-seller by James McBride, is set in the Tuscan countryside during World War II.

The film will tell the story of a group of black soldiers caught between enemy lines who come upon a town of partisans -- Italians who fought against Mussolini's Fascists and their Nazi allies -- seeking to find a traitor in their midst. Filming started Oct. 15.

The film also will include a recounting of what Italians refer to as the "St. Anna Massacre," in which 560 civilians -- women, children and elderly men -- were slaughtered and then burned by German troops in retaliation for partisan activities.

The veterans accuse Lee of changing history to suit his story, and they have demanded that that part of the story be removed or changed.

"It is a false cinematic reconstruction of events that ignores the real story and will leave an inaccurate impression," partisan veterans Moreno Costa, Enio Mancini and Giovanni Cipollini said in a statement released Tuesday. "The term 'cinematic license' should not mean that the truth can be ignored."

The three veterans did not say how many other former soldiers they represented.

Messages left with Lee's temporary Tuscan offices were not returned.