Who was really Santa Chiara? Director Nicchiarelli sheds light on the power of a symbolic woman

Saint Clare is a very modern female model that speaks of an immense inner strength capable of giving substance to dreams. You represent the radical figure who, in a very rigid medieval society, does not hesitate to leave everything behind for the sake of an ideal, in this case the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus he abandons family ties, the comfortable life, the public rules of his time, even overcoming the strong paternal opposition. He is only 18 when one night he runs away from home to join his friend Francesco and from that moment his life enters the history of the Church and of the world. His marked desire for freedom coincides with the Gospel, his power relates to how he was able to subvert the rules in a projection of eternity, of spirituality, of the search for truth. There is no calculation in her, only intuition, heart, soul, empathy.

In the new film written and directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli, produced by Vivo film, with a perfectly fitting cast: Margaret Mazzucco, Andrea Carpenzano, Carlotta Natoli, Paola Tiziana Cruciani, Flaminia Mancin, Valentino Campitelli, Paolo Briguglia and Luigi Lo Cascio tell all of this with an essential and effective language. Who was Chiara really?

After Nico, 1988 and Miss Marx, Nicchiarelli returns to drawing human events, focusing on the spirituality of a young noble woman named Chiara (Margherita Mazzucco) who one fine day with a dear friend, dazzled like St. Paul on the road to Damascus, abandons the paternal home to follow in the footsteps of Francesco (Andrea Carpenzano).

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Francis had already founded an order of friars based on a life of poverty which – overturning the rules – had also opened its doors to girls. Naturally this will give rise to opposition from the religious authorities. Being a woman in the thirteenth century was certainly not easy. Clare’s religious life could not be studded with roses, so much so that there were even clashes with the future saint of Assisi. The film shown today in the Vatican was shot entirely in Tuscania (the same setting as Uccellacci and Uccellini). Open landscapes, immense, verdant, luminous like the example of Chiara. The same light that she was prophesied to her mother at the time of the child’s birth. Bright days alternate on the screen with dark nights like so many existential passages full of tension and anguish.

Chiara by Nicchiarelli is a film that delves into, plays with time that corrodes the soul, projecting it into a perspective of eternity. The language chosen by the director for the characters in the film is a vernacular dialect with Umbrian accents, alternating with the Latin and French of the songs. Clare herself spoke and preached in the vernacular, the language of the people, to make herself understood by the humble and by those who could not grasp the mysterious and almost esoteric Latin of the ecclesiastics, symbols of a self-referential and closed power. In other scenes it is the music and the dances that narrate the life of the time, in another language common to the vulgar.

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Among the most evocative scenes are those in which Chiara and Francesco play side by side. The strength of the characters is rendered by the powerful duo Mazzucco and Carpenzano. The film received the Fuoricampo Award, assigned by the Tertio Millennio Film Fest, Religion Today festivals in Trento and Popoli e Religioni in Terni. Chiara, produced by Vivo film with Rai Cinema and Tarantula, will go into theaters on December 7 with 01 Distribution.

Who was really Santa Chiara? Director Nicchiarelli sheds light on the power of a symbolic woman