Carlo Giuliani, 23, was wearing his swim trunks under his sweatpants when he left home in Genoa, Italy, around noon on July 20, 2001. He still hadn’t decided whether he’d spend the day at the beach with a friend or take part in the anti-globalization protest outside the G8 summit in Genoa that day. By 5:20 that afternoon Carlo was dead, shot in the head by a policeman, who twice ran him over with his jeep and then left him to die in the street.

In Carlo Giuliani, A Boy, directed by Francesca Comencini and winner of honorable mention at last month’s Tribeca Film Festival for Best Documentary Feature, Carlo’s mother, Haidi, matter-of-factly reconstructs her son’s last day, hour by hour. Her sober testimony is interspersed with corroborating filmed images of the day’s events.

Comencini had been in Genoa that day, along with 33 other Italian directors, making the film, Another World Is Possible. She came back to interview Haidi because she thought Italian news accounts, calling Carlo a “vagabond,” slandered his memory.

Although the demonstration had been completely peaceful until the police began lobbing tear gas and beating protesters, Time magazine pontificated: “One man died in Genoa; a man, we must presume, who was swayed by the false promise that violence – not peaceful protest, not participation in the democratic process – is the best way to advance a political cause.” The Houston Chronicle said, “It was tragic, but he was asking for it, and he got it.”

“What first gave birth to the film was the need to give counterinformation about Carlo Giuliani,” Comencini said. “The way he was killed and then how he was defamed I found unbearable … I wanted to find out who this young man really was.”

Comencini, herself a mother, immediately felt a kinship with Haidi. “The story of Carlo Giuliani belongs to all of us,” she said. “My film is a political film, which through the voice of one woman, speaks profoundly to people precisely because we get to know one person closely.”

It will soon be the anniversary of Carlo’s death. Carlo Giuliani, A Boy is a fitting tribute to the complex young man and gentle poet that he was. “In Italy the death penalty doesn’t exist,” Haidi notes near the end of the film. “Yet Carlo was condemned to death, executed, tortured.”

– Carolyn Rummel (