La Passione

When you’re over fifty, it becomes increasingly difficult to be an up-and-coming director. Gianni Dubois knows this only too well. He hasn’t made a film for years, and now that he has the chance to direct a young TV star he can’t even think up an idea for a story. As if this wasn’t enough, a leak in his apartment in Tuscany has ruined the 16th-century fresco in the chapel next door. To avoid being sued and publicly shamed, Gianni must accept the bizarre proposal of the town major to direct the Good Friday celebrations in exchange for immunity. And so he finds himself spending a week in deepest Tuscany trying to put together a kind of Stations of the Cross, with the apostles, Pontius Pilate, the crucifixion, and a terrible and incredibly vain local actor in the part of Christ. [Synopsis courtesy of VIFF]

The Conformist

Bertolucci’s famous 1970’s drama, based on the 1951 novel “The Conformist” by Alberto Moravia. About a sexually repressed man in 1930s Italy, who is consumed by an irresistible need to fit in with society. This leads him to embrace fascism as Mussolini rises to power. As his allegiance to the regime takes over his life, he agrees to assassinate his old teacher. The film is a case study in the psychology of fascism, and according to the political philosopher Takis Fotopoulos “The Conformist” (as well as “Rhinoceros” by Ionesco) is “a beautiful portrait of this psychological need to conform and be ‘normal’ at the social level, in general, and the political level, in particular.” The film has been very influential for other filmmakers, and is widely praised as a visual masterpiece.