Venice 2022, the revolution of Padre Pio according to Abel Ferrara

“I am surprised and saddened that many of you Italians do not know about the massacre of San Giovanni Rotondo of 1920… How is it possible!?”. He asks incredulously Abel Ferrara who built his own on that tragic event Father Piothe new and anticipated feature film by the New York director proposed in competition today at Days of the Authorsautonomous and parallel section of the 79th Venice International Film Festival. An important film, in some aspects “ferrarian” provocative and obsessively penetrated by the religious theme as it happened in some of his iconic works, although set in a historical-geographical context far from his painful and disturbing New York. But it is known that Abel Ferrara is now at home in Italyespecially a Rome, and not by chance this Padre Pio is an Italian-German-British co-production, underlining how far the States have been for years now from supporting Ferrara’s cinema. And the provocation is on right from the title, because Padre Pio is not a biopic on the saint from Pietrelcinabut it is the recognition of a historical fragment of the backward and suffering post-first world war of southern Italy, with the figure of the friar apparently alienated from the real world that “witnesses” from its convent the History that is consumed. “Pio is the protagonist, his absence is an active presence” underlines the filmmaker de The bad lieutenant of which this film presents not a few ideas as a possible “reverse shot”. Absence that becomes presence as happens in the best cinema where the off-screen is nourished by meaning, but also as a further political provocation in contrast to legends that saw Padre Pio in his own way “guilty” of having instigated the massacre occurred on October 14, 1920 in which 14 people died and 80 were injured under the gunfire of the police on behalf of the landowner governance (and with some presence of the newborn Fascism …) to the detriment of the members of the Socialist Party cool winner of the election. Ferrara supports the correct historical revision of the total innocence of the friar, instead engaged in his spiritual battles “against the devil and his temptations in the perpetual search for a God who seems to have abandoned him”, to confess, support and perform miracles hidden from the local people. A film about the latest in a radical way as in the best Ferrara, an all-round extremist of rehab, who not by chance wanted Hollywood bad boy Shia LaBeouf for the starring role, desecrated by the show biz but hired (really) in some monasteries after a profound spiritual conversion. “I wanted someone of the right age as Pius at the time“Ferrara grins, evading the real answer that then comes,”Shia is a hugely talented actor, he is on an extraordinary spiritual path, is exactly in tune with the figure of Padre Pio ”. In fact, the often silent but intense presence of LaBeouf profoundly benefits the outcome of the film, capable of expressing a revolutionary integrity from the inside as a counter to the “external” socialist revolution staged in much of the feature film. Because Padre Pio – in the end – is a work made up of two parallel and “converging” stories: the monastic and secret universe of the friar and the political turmoil that shake the masses. Although with different balance defects between the parts, and some “ramshackle” moments alternating, however, with moments of pure sublime (for example the scene of the miracle)this latest effort by Abel Ferrara deserves praise as a gesture of multiple revelations for (our) history, cinema, conscience.

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Venice 2022, the revolution of Padre Pio according to Abel Ferrara – Il Fatto Quotidiano