The Italian neo-realist film movement only lasted for a brief ten-year period directly following World War II. Twenty years of fascist rule in Italy which strictly controlled what was permissible subject matter for the Italian film industry, as well as the other arts, stifled an entire generation of Italian artists.
At the end of World War II, when fascist control was finally broken, Italian filmmakers De Sica, Visconti, and Rossellini, along with writers like Cesare Zavattini and others, were eager to express themselves after years of repression. Italy found itself devastated by the war, as was the infrastructure of the Italian film industry. Perhaps these two elements combined to create a cinema movement immediately recognizable as something special and would be labeled neo-realism.