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Catholics and cinema in Italy: An international perspective

Thursday 16 June 2016, by SIGNIS

Milano, June 16th, 2016 (G.C.). From June 8 to 10, an international conference was held in Milano on the theme “Catholics and cinema in Italy from the 1930s to the 1970s”. Among the organizers of this event were Don Dario E. Vigano, Tomaso Subini, Elena Dagrada and Pierre Sorlin. More than forty studies were presented on many topics.

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Guido Convents at the conference

The conference also had a lot of information about the roots of SIGNIS and especially about the relation between OCIC and the Vatican and how the Catholic Action in cinema was active and perceived in Italy. Also new information concerning the Dominican Fr Felix Morlion came up in various presentations.

One of the principal themes was how the Italian Catholic Church and the Vatican tried to control the film world and the Catholic filmgoers with a rather top down policy. Another element was precisely the opposite: how the Church, or some of its representatives, tried to serve the filmgoers in helping them to understand cinema, or putting the cinema at the service of the Church and its catholic audience.
The confrontation of the Church and Catholic associations with the sexual revolution in the cinema in the 1960s was another topic discussed there. It took some time for the Italian Catholic film commission to understand and to accept the new youth culture.

Studies about the reception of films of Bergman, Liliana Cavani, or Pier Paolo Pasolini in Catholic Italy were fascinating. Catholics were involved in a number of films as Galileo, Don Camillo or Fabiola. The film Ho ritrovato mio figlio (1954) by Elio Piccon, known as the first film for children made by a Catholic producer took more than five years to be finished.

Finally, a few talks were dedicated about the role of television for Italian Catholics. The introduction of the televised mass in 1954 by the RAI and its evolution in the first years is a fascinating story and tells not only the story of TV in the Church but also how TV became an element in religion culture.

The organizers of the Conference have the intention to publish these conferences on YouTube.

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