A journey between past and present, at the Italian borders of the ex Austro-Hungarian Empire, to discover the stories of those women who fought for the confirmation of their own identity at the falling of the empire.
In the early XX Century, Trieste is a rich port city and the marketplace of the Hapsburg Empire, where there is a lively cultural life, both Italian and Slovenian, and also German. Yet the Slovenian and Italian worlds don’t know and don’t meet each other. They are opposite in the national aspirations which precede the fighting of World War II. In the most secular city of the Hapsburg Empire, women have the same desire for redemption of other European women, seeking vigorously the right to vote and other rights. But, just like men, the women living in Trieste are involved in the question of identity and will be forced to make choices.
Pavla Hočevar was born in Vienna and studied in Ljubljana to become a teacher, one of the intellectual jobs allowed to women. In 1910 she starts teaching in Trieste in the council schools of the Society of Saints Cyril and Methodius, to strengthen the Slovenian national consciousness.
Also Marica Nadlišek Bartol lives in Trieste, she is a writer and the first editor of the magazine Slovenka, the first Slovenian women’s magazine. Also Marica is a teacher and teaches in the school of St. John, the district of Trieste in the majority Slovenian. She causes a scandal because she goes cycling and dresses fashionably. However with marriage and motherhood Marica is forced to leave the job, both of editor and teacher.
Elody Oblath is an intellectual and writer of Hungarian Jewish orogin, she feels Italian but she is steeped in German culture. With her friends Scipio Slataper and Giani Stuparich, she is first on European positions, then becomes irredentist and aspires to the reunification of Trieste to Italy.
In the socialist world acts Giuseppina Martinuzzi, from the Istrian Labin, of Friulian origin, who has taught for 30 years in Trieste in council schools in poor districts of the city. Once retired, she is an important socialist leader, elected in the city council, feminist and fervent supporter of the Italian-Slavic dialogue.
Pavla, Marica, Elody and Giuseppina live the moments before the conflict and the war, each differently. Pavla hopes in the formation of a state of the United Slavs, Marica also nourishes the same concern for the future, although worried about her four children. Elody goes to Florence with Scipio Slataper and Giani Stuparich. The two young men enlist in the Italian Army and go to fight on the front. Giuseppina, unable to stop the conflict, hopes in the positive outcome of the Russian revolution. Different is the attitude of the Austrian women who continue to support the multinational Empire. Alice Schalek is a journalist and photographer from Wien, of Jewish origin. At the outbreak of the war, she was the first woman to be accredited as a war reporter and tells with many photographs the Isonzo Front.
The annexation of Trieste to the Kingdom of Italy and the first fascist actions change their fate: Pavla and Marica are forced to move to Ljubljana in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia because their schools are closed and they are persecuted by the fascist militia as Slovenians; Giuseppina, eighty-years-old at that time, goes back to Labin where she trying to escape the fascist violence, unsuccessfully, and soon dies; only Elody Oblath remains in Trieste to commemorate her friends dead during the war.
Four destinies on which the wind of history blew, disrupting the life plans and forcing to hard choices. Four different women reflecting in each other, recreating thoughts and emotions of a time when balances were breaking and the world was changing.