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Spiritual Cinema 2011

Picture: Gospel According to St Matthew
Gospel According to St Matthew

The season of dates will run from April - June 2011

The films will take place at Chichester Cinema at New Park on Sundays.

Picture: Of Gods and Men
Of Gods and Men

In partnership with the cinema, following last year's highly successful event, we are delighted to support another season of films exploring aspects of faith, conscience and enlightenment within different religions or cultures.

The 10 selected titles offer a wide range of films both old and new, from various countries including Tibet, France, Spain, Italy and the UK.  Following 'The Gospel According to St Matthew' on Easter Sunday, the season continues in May and June including:

'Of Gods and Men', 'Seraphine', 'Name of the Rose', 'Don Camillo', Herzog's 'Wheel of Time', 'No Greater Love' and Brunel's 'Viridiana'.

It is hoped that each film will have a brief introduction by the Chancellor, Canon Dr Anthony Cane, or one of his colleagues, and an opportunity to discuss some films after the screening in the Studio.

Easter Sunday Presentation - Sunday 24 April at 1pm
Pasolini's humanist version of the Gospel is the first film in the season of Spiritual Cinema.

International Panorama: Italy
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (PG)
Pasolini's humanist version of the Gospel is the first film in the season of Spiritual Cinema.

This  is a literal, marvellous interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel, which is sometimes simple and sometimes quite savage.  Filmed in Southern Italy in rocky hillside villages and along the coast, Pasolini's "Gospel" with its cast of non-professional actors, which include Susanna Pasolini, the filmmaker's mother has a gritty realism.  The camera loves these rough, beautiful and distinctive faces... it is like a moving tapestry of Renaissance paintings, and a visual artist's dream film.  Enrique Irazoqui's Jesus, with his lofty forehead, thick eyebrows that meet over his nose, and coal black eyes, is stern and compelling, and recites the Gospel with strength and mettle. 
The soundtrack includes Bach, Mozart, Prokofiev, Webern, some Americal spirituals ("Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" during the Manger scene), Kol Nidrei during the Last Supper scene, and Missa Luba.  Ironically Pasolini was a gay, Marxist atheist who made what many consider to be the best film there is about Jesus and dedicated it to Pope John XI1.
Italy 1964 Pier Paolo Pasolini 127m

Sunday 1 May - 1pm
Of Gods and Men

Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale head a superb cast in Xavier Beauvois's gripping and provocative drama set in a monastery in North Africa.

Xavier Beauvois vaults into the realm of mature mystery with this sombre, humane and provocative drama.  Based on a true incident, the film is set in a Cistercian monastery in North Africa in the 1990s, where eight French monks live in cordial harmony with the local population.  The monastery's abbot, Brother Christian (Lambert Wilson), is as much versed in the Koran as in the Bible, giving him a special insight into, and respect for, the nation he has chosen to work in.  But the country is increasingly in the grip of fundamentalist violence, and the brothers must soon decide whether to stay or leave.  A compassionate plea for understanding between cultures, the film muses on the meaning of religious vocation in a violent world, and tackles its subject with authoritative, non-sensationalist forcefulness.  Superbly photgraphed by Caroline Champetier - watch her sensitivity to faces in the dinner sequence near the end - this powerful but understated drama features terrific performances by an ensemble cast including the ever-magisterial Michael Lonsdale as the monastery's resident medic (subtitles).
France 2010 Xavier Beauvois  120 mins

Sunday 8 May - 1pm
The Name of the Rose (15)

An intellectually nonconformist monk (Sean Connery) investigates a series of mysterious deaths in an isolated abbey.

Based on Umberto Eco's best-selling novel, 'The Name of the Rose' is a medieval whodunnit set in a 14th-century Italian monastery.  Franciscan monk William of Baskerville (Sean Connery) - a sly nod to Conan Doyle surely, and a young novice (Christian Slater) arrive for a conference to find that several monks have been brutally murdered.  In his attempt to solve the crimes, bizarre murders attributed to the devil - he risks being burned for heresy by the holy inquisition.  William must challenge the authority of the Catholic Church by eschewing religious fervour in favour of rational thought.  Contains a fine international cast and a splendidly evocative location, with direction by Jean Jacques Anaud that lets the story flow in a naturalistic unfussy manner.
Germany/Italy/France 1986 Jean-Jacques Anaud 126m

Sunday 15 May - 1pm
No Greater Love (12A)

A documentary reflecting the pace of life at the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Notting Hill, home to a cloistered order of Carmelite nuns.

Ten years in preparation, this thoughtful documentary examines the life of a closed order of Carmelite nuns at the Most Holy Trinity monastery, in Notting Hill, London.  The director Michael Whyte, granted access to this cloistered world, captures something of its severe self-discipline - silence is observed for most of the daily round of prayer and contemplation - but also its strange merriment, as the nuns go about their work (gardening, laundering, cooking) and talk on camera about their vocation.  Whyte captures moments of stillness and tranquility that recall Dutch domestic painting of the 17th century - the Vermeer-like angle of light as a nun stands at a window - while suggesting the extraordinariness of such a place's survival, and in such an area: Notting Hill has never seemed so quiet.  Like 'Into Greater Silence' this documentary demands a measure of patience from the viewer, and repays it tenfold.
UK/France 2008 Michael Whyte 100m

Sunday 22 May - 1pm
Doubt (15)

In a Bronx Catholic school in 1964 a popular priest's ambiguous relationship with a troubled 12 year old black student is questioned by the school's principal.

In 1964 a Catholic elementary school has just admitted its first Black student, a 12-year-old boy transferred from public school.  The principal, a rigid disciplinarian nun, (Meryl Streep) and the liberal parish priest (Philip Seymour Smith) are both concerned for the boy's welfare in a predominantly Irish/Italian school.  The nun becomes convinced that the priest has, or is planning to have, an improper relationship with the child and is determined to force him to leave the school.  A third compassionate person is the boy's mother, who has another point of view.  The fourth person is a young teacher who is concerned but confused by the conflict between the nun and the priest.  'Doubt' has exact and merciless writing, powerful performances and timeless relevance.  It causes us to start thinking with the first sho, and we never stop.  Think how rare that is in a film.
USA 2008 John Patrick Shanley 100m

Sunday 29 May - 1pm
Son of Man (12A)

Mark Dornford-May's Dimpho Di Kopane theatre company transplants the Christ story to a modern-day African township suffering under martial law.

This South African movie is based on the story of Jesus.  It is relocated to South Africa, with a black cast, and a controversial spin on the traditionally accepted narrative.  Growing up as a poor boy in an invaded country, our hero grows to be a man, determined to seek justice for his people.  He journeys to the capital, gathering assorted armed men along the way, for the final showdown against the religious and political leaders of the day, set in an authoritarian black African state and their Jesus is a Ghandi-like figure preaching non-violent opposition and leading a band of disciples, four of whom are women.  From the same team that three years ago made 'U-Carmen', 'Son of Man' is a more ambitious film.  In Xhosa and English.
South Africa 2006 Mark Dornford-May 91m

Sunday 5 June - 1pm
Wheel of Time (U)

'Wheel of Time' is Werner Herzog's beautifully photographed look at the largest Buddhist ritual in Bodh Gaya, India.

The central subject is the Kalachakra Initiation, during which Tibetan Buddhist monks are ordained.  Ritual is seen unfolding first in Bodh Gaya, India, the town where Buddha sat down under a tree and founded a philosophy, and then again, somewhat incongruously, in an exhibition hall in Graz.  Herzog's voiceover contextualises some of the stranger activities, such as pilgrims prostrating themselves with every step, and the chaotic tossing of gifts and special holy dumplings to the frantic crowd of worshippers.  Elsewhere, the Dalai Lama, smiling and robust looking, explains the spiritual significance of certain rituals to camera, but is later reported to be "too unwell" to take part in some aspects of the ceremony, much to the crowd's disappointment.  He makes a miraculous recovery in time for the ceremony in Graz, accompanied by a retinue of scarlet-robed monks and gray-suited, earpiece-sporting bodyguards.  Herzog's engrossing documentary is a spiritual blessing for Buddhists and anyone else fortunate to experience it.  Beautiful to look at, it is also not without Herzog's wry humour.
Germany 2003 Werner Herzog 80m

Sunday 12 June - 1pm
The Little World of Don Camillo

Fernandel is Don Camillo, the hot-headed priest always fighting to be the head of the community against the communist major in the first of a delightful series of comedies.

Set in the village of the Po valley where the earth is hard and life miserly, the priest (Fernandel) and the communist mayor are always fighting to be the head of the community.  If in secret, they admired and liked each other, politics still divided them as it is dividing the country.  And when the mayor wants his "People's House"; the priest wants his "Garden City" for the poor.  Division exists between the richest and the poorest, the pious and the atheists and even between lovers.  But if the poeple are as hard as the country, they are good in the bottom of their hearts.  Fernandel is great as Don Camillo, the hot-headed priest with the classic clown's face, stretching from comical to deeply human, scarred with compassion and sadness.  Gino Cervi, the mayor Peppone is also great, his physique is stiffer, bulkier, his face is also stiffer - a perfect communist-mechanic, earnest and passionate but slow.  Don Camillo's opponent, on the surface thoroughly different but inside very much like him (subtitles).
Italy/France 1952 Julien Duvivier 108m

Sunday 19 June - 1pm
Viridiana (15)

Viridiana, a young nun about to take her final vows, pays a visit to her widowed uncle at the request of her Mother Superior in Bunuel's blasphemous satire.

Moved purely by a sense of obligation, Viridiana (Silvia Pinal) does so. Her uncle (Fernando Rey) is moved by her resemblance to his late wife to attempt to seduce Viridiana, and tragedy ensues.  In the aftermath, Viridiana tries to assuage her guilt by creating a haven for the destitute folk who live around her uncle's estate.  This is one of the most memorable films made by Luis Bunuel, and the most controversial in this season challenging the hypocrisy of organised religion.  It's a shocking attack on the Catholic Church and Spain.  There is a kind of dream-like boldness to a lot of the narrative, an electric passage between the images.  Bunuel connects the audience to more earthy, pragmatic drives throwing off the hypocrisy of organised religion in the process, due to it being out of touch with our needs.  It explores the theme of the naivety of do-gooding vs the reality of human nature, greed and selfishness.  The parody of the Last Supper and Viridiana's rape by a beggarly Christ are unforgettable.  Even more subversive is her new secular role in a menage-a-trois in a final game of cards.  Bunuel is saying that while Viridiana or the Church or Govermenets may have the best intentions they are inevitably doomed to failure because life and the world is ultimately chaotic.  An all time masterwork. (subtitles)
Spain/Mexico 1961 Luis Bunuel 90m

Sunday 3 July - 3pm
Seraphine (PG)

True moving story, and winner of 7 Ceasars, of a Parisian cleaning woman who became a famous primitive painter, returns after last year's sell out screening.

In 1914, Wilhelm Uhde, a famous German art collector, rents an apartment in the town of Senlis, forty kilometre away from Paris.  The cleaning lady is a rather rough-and-ready forty-year-old woman who is the laughing stock of others.  One day, Wilhelm who has been invited by his landlady, notices a small painting lying about in her living room.  He is stunned to learn that the artist is no other than Seraphine.  Seraphine de Senlis, (who died in a French mental institution in 1942).  She did not paint for money or fame, although she grew heady when they began to come her way.  She painted because she was instructed to by her guardian angel.  Sometimes while painting, she would loudly sing in praise of the Holy Virgin.  In this miraculous film we learn nothing of her low birth or early life; we only see her daily toil and nightly ecstasy "Seraphine" arrives from France as the year's most honoured film, winner of seven Ceasars from the French Academy, including best film and best actress.  The actress is Yolande Moreau, who combines a plain face with moments of beauty.  Our final film is an absolute gem which won the audience award for best film in this year's Chichester Film Festival. (subtitles).
France/Belgium 2008 Martin Provost 126m

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