Her memory triggered by the sight of a shooting star, a mother (Lozano) recounts the fateful exodus she experienced as a six-year-old girl: on the eve of the American liberation during World War II, residents of a Tuscan village, skeptical of Nazi promises to keep them safe inside a cathedral, head into the countryside in search of anti-fascist Italian partisans and the advancing Allies. Led by an elderly peasant, the group forms an intimate bond that transcends social hierarchy.
Like “Cinema Paradiso,” the Taviani brothers’ semi-autobiographical “Stars” deals in nostalgia, fantasy, and childhood memories; in this case, of a tumultuous episode in the life of a Tuscan village. Its moving depiction of their flight from certain death on a mythic, time-honored occasion — “La notte di San Lorenzo” (or “the night of the shooting stars”) — deals with a number of universal themes: love and politics, sex and death, hope and survival. The Tavianis bring a magical and ultimately life-affirming quality to this remarkable wartime reminiscence.