Archives of Catholic film and culture, an unexplored heritage

At the end of the international conference “The history of contemporary Catholicism and the memories of cinema and audiovisual”, organized by UniNettuno International Telematic University and CAST “Catholicism and Audiovisual Studies”, the project “Archives of cinema and culture” was presented Cattolica ” , whose lottery was already inaugurated on 19 May sl

Rosario Tronnolone – Vatican City State

The launch of the project, which concluded the two-day conference dedicated to audiovisual archives, aims to help respond to the cultural urge that emerged several times during the works, to protect and strengthen the historical audiovisual heritage in order to overcome the “logocentric” perspective in studies of Catholicism. Moreover, the need for a dialogue has arisen not only between academic disciplines, but also and above all between academics and archivists, between those who study the historical heritage and those who own it, in order to overcome only sporadic and purely utilitarian use of this legacy. with a view to a possible mutual improvement. It is not only a matter of gathering the collections of the various conservative subjects in a single gateway, but also of putting new attention to little-known archives and sources that are rarely explored. Among the projects already underway are the classification of the audiovisual memory at Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital and of the audiovisual material preserved in the San Paolo Film Fund in the Historical Archive of Società San Paolo. We talked about it with Gianluca della MaggioreDirector of the CAST Center and Curator of the Conference with Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò:

Listen to the interview with Gianluca della Maggiore

What does the project consist of?

The project consists of the idea of ​​offering an access door (we are talking about a portal) for audiovisual material, but also photographic and documentary material, which today is scattered in many different archives. At the conference, we saw what a wealth of audiovisual material is scattered today in so many small and large church and non-church archives: This morning there was the example of home movies, family movies. Think about the beauty and interest in finding the opportunity to have access to many different materials in a single portal, on a single site. This is precisely from the point of view of our conference and our project, which aims to raise awareness of the urgency of securing (at the conference, we talked a lot about saving) a historical legacy like the audiovisual that is poorly protected today self. of ecclesiastical institutions, there is in fact little attention paid to defining it as a cultural asset. So our intention is precisely this: to raise awareness of the cultural necessity and offer tools so that this material can be connected, create a system and offer moments, opportunities and tools so that it can be seen and for everyone to enjoy.

In what sense can this material be considered a useful tool for historical study?

For the historical study in many ways. One of the things that is perhaps most relevant at this conference is precisely the interdisciplinary feature of the approach: it can be interesting for contemporary historians, for Christian historians, because through images and audiovisual materials they have the opportunity to access information, there is no highlight in any other way: the maps do not tell you what people looked like or how they moved; For example, let’s think about how liturgies change over time: As we saw today at the conference, a community of ’44 is not a community of ’70, it completely changes the typology and morphology of liturgical construction, also precisely in approach at the family level, not just by the Church; so think about how much cultural and anthropological interest all this holds. This can be interesting for historical-religious studies, but also for anthropology studies or for media researchers because they understand how the language of film construction changes. So we have an interdisciplinary approach that can be found and improved through audiovisual sources.

It’s easy for these videos to evoke a bit of irony, but how much it takes instead of going into the spirit of the times to understand what those movies meant and how they were read at the time, compared to what might be superficial and not quite accurate. reading that we can provide. Today?

Well yes, of course it can obviously be the first reaction, the epidermal one, towards, for example, the blessing of cars, which is a practice that has gone out of use in recent years, or in front of those who filmed the Goodnight Prayer. Well yes, irony may be the first feature that evokes, however, as I said, there is an anthropological charm in this, an anthropological richness that we do not have and that we can not reproduce through any other tool. The written word does not release the emotions one can receive when one sees goodnight prayer from the children who jump on the bed and pray in the 1950s, right? And so yes, it makes you smile, but inserted into a historiographical system of interpretation capable of grasping the density of the anthropological depth of things, it certainly has a meaning that other sources do not give.

Leave a Comment