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Home » News » Bruner’s Mud Angels Documentary Film Debuts at FSU Florence Study Center

Bruner’s Mud Angels Documentary Film Debuts at FSU Florence Study Center

Published November 9, 2016
 Breanna Bruner, senior double major in Art History and Digital Media Production, premiered her film Mud Angels Recovered: FSU’s First Year in Florence to a crowd of current and former students at the 50th anniversary celebration of the FSU Florence Program on November 3 at the study center in Florence, Italy. Bruner’s mini documentary, which was produced with the support of the John W. Day III Undergraduate Research Award, tells the story of the students who inaugurated the FSU Florence Program in 1966 and became part of the celebrated group of volunteers who rescued precious works of art and cultural heritage after the devastating flood of the Arno River that November.

Bruner’s film was screened by Frank Nero, Director of the Florence Program, for an audience of current and former FSU students participating in the anniversary celebration of the volunteers, the “mud angels.”  Nero writes:
For the 47 mud angels that attended, Breanna’s film made the event and their night. They were very emotional. Every angel present at the event last night at the FSU Florence study center implored me to send her their thanks.

The Arno River during the Florence Flood, November 4, 1966
On the night of November 4, 1966 the Arno overflowed its banks, reaching 10 feet above street level and filling many of Florence’s historic streets, museums, churches, and libraries with mud. After the disaster, the FSU students elected to stay in the city, in the most uncomfortable conditions, and assist with the massive spontaneous cleanup effort.

Citizens and foreigners living in Florence took to the streets, museums, and libraries to salvage masterpieces and manuscripts from the mud, for which they earned the title Gli Angeli di Fango.  A New York Times article on the anniversary of the flood describes the endeavor, and the roll of the 121 students and faculty from Florida State University, one of the first American colleges to start a study-abroad program in Florence.

Bruner spent the summer of 2016 on the FSU Florence Program, experiencing the city and its cultural treasures as other FSU students have done for the last five decades. During that time she conducted research for her documentary.  She presented that research and a trailer for the video at the President’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence in September. A parallel project documenting her own experiences in Florence won the International Programs Annual Summer Video Contest. International Programs will use the short film to promote the study-abroad experience and to assist students in the orientation process.

Below, Nero and the Mud Angels in Santa Croce with Giorgio Vasari’s Last Supper, one of the paintings most damaged in the flood, which was just returned to its place in the church this month after a painstaking 40-year restoration described in this recent article.

Mud Angels with Vasari's Last Supper in Santa Croce, Florence