Book Chapter

Moralizing cinema while attracting audiences: Catholic film exhibition in post-war Rome


Because commercial film production was seen as a danger to the morality of the Church, Italian Catholics developed the idea of exerting a positive influence over producers by creating an extensive network of parish cinemas where films could be rigorously selected and screened. While from a religious point of view, parish cinemas were meant to be a way of spreading an evangelical message, from a purely commercial perspective, they were businesses like every other cinema. This system provided the Vatican with a means of exerting pressure on the Italian film industry. However, when one considers the programming, the marketing processes and the oral history, a new picture emerges. While parish cinemas could only show films approved by the Censorship Commission of the Centro Cattolico Cinematografico (Catholic Cinema Center, hereafter CCC) to be screened in religious venues, in practice, films officially only considered suitable in a public venue ( For all and For all with appropriate changes ) were often still shown in parish cinemas. This was a consequence of the limited number of ‘suitable’ films available at the time. Therefore, if the process of both moralizing cinema and attracting audiences employed by the Vatican in conjunction with the government presented profuse compromises, oral history allows us for the first time to better comprehend how the educational role of a parish cinema network was perceived by its actual audiences. Rome is used here as a case study because it is the center of the Catholic world, housing the Vatican, the Catholic curia and all the main Catholic administration offices. In responding to Martin Barker’s questions “What spaces and traditions are available to people, and how do these shape and enable participation?” and “What information, comparisons, judgments, expectations, hopes and fears precede and then accompany encounters?” 1 this chapter analyzes 325 questionnaires followed by thirty-two video interviews. 2 Looking at the parish cinemas as spaces available to Roman audiences in the post-war period and analyzing the audience’s responses concerning this particular type of space allow us to understand how they shaped and enabled participation in the capital’s audiences. Moreover, the chapter attempts to discover whether the process of moralizing audiences was successful in Rome and how it was remembered by its protagonists.

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Treveri Gennari, Daniela

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment\School of Arts


Year of publication: 2014
Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-09-20

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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