Italian Missionary Film and Fiamme

  • Author(s): Maria Francesca Piredda
  • When: 2013-01
  • Where: Popular Italian Cinema
  • This chapter focuses on Italian missionary cinematographic production, an increasingly important area within the realm of Italian Catholic cinema studies. "Missionary films" refer to a substantial group of movies made by missionaries as directors, screenwriters, dubbers and producers in Italy and in other countries around the world during the last century. This phenomenon has been linked to the official use of images by the Catholic Church from its origins until now. The Church has for centuries used images in support of words for the purpose of preaching its message in a number of art forms and media: painting, sculpture, stained glass, photography, magic lanterns, lithographs, cinema and more recently the internet. I will concentrate on a fiction film produced by the Parma-based Saveriani Fathers in 1929, entitled Fiamme, as a case study of the way in which missionary cinema may be considered popular and how it adapted the language of mainstream cinema for its own purposes.

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