Charges: intentional disaster.
Applicable punishment: 12 year sentence.
Defendants: n. 142 and n. 243 in the world's richest men chart.
Witnesses for the prosecution: 800 relatives of the victims from Casale Monferrato, representing the tens of thousands of people who over aworked in Eternit factories around the world over a century.

After years of preliminary investigations conducted by the "iron prosecuting attorney" Raffaele Guariniello, the first great criminal trial against the big masters of asbestos will be starting in Turin in autumn 2009. Thus far, the all of the international suits have been civil proceedings aimed at awarding damages to the victims or bringing down the local executives of the companies. In Turin, however, the major stockholders of Eternit, the Swiss Stephan Schmidheiny and the Belgian Louis Cartier de Marchienne, will be appearing in the dock for the first time.
The figures of the disaster are striking: every year, throughout the world, 100,000 people die from diseases linked to asbestos. Mesothelioma, a cancer of the pleura caused exclusively by inhaling asbestos micro-fibres, can take up to 30 years to manifest itself; but once it does so, it is unmerciful.

Asbestos was banned from the European Union in 1999, effective as of 2005, just as it was in many other countries (but not the U. S. or Canada). Nevertheless, people will continue to die from its effects for the next twenty years. Decontaminating the things around us that still contain huge quantities of asbestos (tiles, old trains, toasters, linoleum, iron boards, car brakes, etc.) will require some ten years, and will cost thousands of lives. One question remains: did the executives of the industrial giants sharing the asbestos market for a century know? And if so, what did they do to protect the workers and consumers?

The Great Asbestos Trial stages the first-level trial in Turin, which will have to decide if and to what extent the top management of asbestos companies were personally and criminally responsible for the social consequences their company activities in Casale Monferrato had on their workers and the entire community as well.  Workers, employees and even factory managers were not the only ones to have suffered the illness and died. The entire community surrounding these factories was involved: the families of the labourers who came into direct contact with the workers' clothes; the bartenders who served coffee in the bars near the factories; the people who lived on the roads where trucks loaded with the raw material passed byÂ…

Amidst the swarms of international lawyers, witness depositions, reports by experts, and accusation and defence addresses by council in court for many months to come, the camera will follow Luisa Minazzi, a minute and brilliant 54 year old woman from the victims' committee. After having fought a public campaign against asbestos pollution for years, this public school principal is now fighting her own private battle. One year ago she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and since then has continued carrying on her daily life as best she can. Luisa works, sings in the local choir, and  goes to the Casale victims' committee meetings. Bit most of all, she is creating a centre in her home town so that those who are suffering from asbestos disease can receive the latest information and support.

Laurie Kazan-Allen will also attend the trial in Turin. As founder of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) - an independent body dedicated to the worldwide eradication of the use of asbestos - Laurie fights for global job safety and a world ban on the mining and manufacturing of the fibrous minerals. She is carrying on with the proceeding to bring chrysotile, the most common form of asbestos, under the Prior Informed Consent list (PIC) of the Rotterdam Convention. This convention is a multilateral agreement that wants to ensure that the exportation of hazardous materials takes place with the full knowledge of the importing nations, something that is not the case for India, Thailand, and many other developing countries.

Together with the two women, many determined people will follow this epochal trial. Each of them is animated by a different outlook on the world: for the civil lawyers, job safety and the dream of a clean world; for the victims' committee, the desire for justice and the need of recognition; for the defence, international competition rules, employment and profit; for the attorney general, a "power clash" at the highest level. Will the two small female "Davids" get the upper hand on the great enterprises' "Goliaths"? Will it be a modern tale where the community will triumph at last, or will the power of the industrial giants prevail?

Niccolò Bruna, Andrea Prandstraller
Niccolò Bruna, Andrea Prandstraller, Savina Neirotti
Niccolò Bruna, Andrea Prandstraller, Savina Neirotti
Film Editor
Denise Vindevolgel
Original Music
Mirko Guerra.Vito Martinelli (Montaggio del suono)
Cast and characters

Luisa Minazzi, Romana Blasotti Pavesi, Bruno Pesce, Nicola Pondrano, Raffaele Guariniello, Fernanda Giannasi, Adilson Conceição Santana, Marina Julia De Aquino, Adelman Araújo Filho (Chirù), G. Vivekananda Rao, M V Rao.

Production Director
Enrica Capra, Isabelle Truc, Yves Bisaillon
SRG SSR, RSI Radiotelevisione Svizzera, ARTE GEIE, La RTBF
GraffitiDoc (Torino)
con il sostegno di Film Commission Torino Piemonte e della Regione Piemonte (Piemonte Doc Film Fund - Fondo regionale per il documentario - sviluppo settembre 2007 - produzione dicembre 2008) e del Programma MEDIA della Comunità Europea
Cinecitta' Luce
Festival - markets - events

- Jury Prize at Cinemambiente Intl Film Festival 2011 - Italy;
- Best Film al Baghdad Intl Film Festival 2012;
- Best Documentary Feature Film al Festival International
- FilmAmbiente di Rio de Janeiro;
- Shortlisted at ‘David di Donatello 2012’, best feature length documentary;
- Selected at FICA - Brazil;
- Euganea Film Festival - Italy;
- Festival du Cinéma Italien d'Annécy - France;
- EcoFest Oradea - Romania;
- This Human World – Vienna;
- DocsBarcelona 2012 – Spain;
- Le Voci dell’Inchiesta – Pordenone;
- Awareness Festival 2012 – Los Angeles, Sherwood Festival - 2012 – Padova;
- Galway Film Fleadh – Irlanda;
- FICMA 2012 – Barcelona;
- DocPoint 2013 – Helsinki e Tallinn;
- Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival 2013;
- Ecofalante – Rio de Janeiro 2013.

GraffitiDoc (Enrica Capra)
Last update: 30 March 2023