The transnational flows of cultural capital generated by African American artists working in postwar Rome, with its thriving film industry and where many performers found ample work in the culture industries, remain largely unexamined. An exploration of the film Anna’s Sin (1952), through its core cast members’ careers and key scenes, demonstrates desegregationist and antifascist cultural work in the postwar Italian cinema and complicates divisions of high and popular culture. The film’s active attempts at undoing binarisms of race, class, gender and culture—however incomplete—emerge from the period’s mounting political struggles for greater social freedoms and mobilities. These dynamics play out on screen in a postwar Roman milieu but are inextricably wrapped up with the US Black freedom struggle. Through its main characters’ lives, both on and off screen, Anna’s Sin juxtaposes the struggles of racialized and gendered subjects. The film projects on screen new modes of relationality, particularly through its central interracial love story, presenting its viewers with new possibilities for seeing and being in the world. With an eye toward the then utopic horizon of the 1960s, such postwar filmic work made anticipatory claims upon its transnational audiences to imagine and to activate better, more expansive futures.

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