VIDEO ESSAY: Cinema dell’anima

Presented at the Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies Conference “Italian Cinema and Media: Past and Present, Continuity and Change, Expectations for the Future” Rome, 16-18 June 2022

Filming the Soul: the Cinema dell’anima movement in Contemporary Italian Cinema

In recent years, there has arisen a new wave of Italian filmmakers who independently but
consistently develop a humanist, posthumanist, poetic realist, and magical neorealist, form of
cinema, in which they often shoot on 16mm, use a docu-fiction method, explore rural traditions,
include non-human (animal) characters, and, above all, illustrate the invisible nature of the soul.
In a previous article, I proposed to name this movement cinema dell’anima, identifying
Michelangelo Frammartino, Pietro Marcello, and Alice Rohrwacher as the forerunner auteurs
who, each in their own individual way, seek to portray the soul onscreen. This talk will analyze
how a posthumanist poetic and anthropological subjectivity can affect the viewer and change
perceptions of the outside world through the cinematic medium. Delving more specifically into
the theoretical groundings of this movement, I will explore its transcendental aspects via the film
theories of Cesare Zavattini, Paul Schrader, and André Bazin, as well as its socio-political
underpinnings through the posthumanist biopolitics of Roberto Marchesini and Elena Past. As
Gilles Deleuze stated: “The question is no longer: does cinema give us the illusion of the world?
But: how does cinema restore our belief in the world?” By making the invisible visible,
and, more specifically, by making palpable the intangible soul, cinema dell’anima can thus be
considered an expression of faith and an effort to raise awareness around us in the hopes of
making the world a better place.

For more information on this movement, check out my analysis published as “Cinema dell’anima. For a Transcendental, Post-humanist, Poetic Cinema,” in L’avventura, International Journal of Italian Film and Media Landscapes 1/2021: 3-22.

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