Though his films have premiered at such esteemed international festivals as Venice and Locarno, and he’s been the subject of a complete retrospective at the 2009 International Film Festival Rotterdam, Italy’s Paolo Benvenuti remains little known in the United States. Molding his films in the rich tradition of classical Italian painting—especially that of Caravaggio—but also galvanized by post-1968 radicalism, the Tuscan-born Benvenuti has crafted a singular body of work that belongs alongside the austere cinema of Roberto Rossellini and Straub/Huillet (for whom Benvenuti worked between 1972 and 1975). Benvenuti’s films are products of thorough historical research, revisiting long-gone events to reveal the truth behind the legend. Confortorio, Benvenuti’s second feature, is based on the records documenting the attempts of Catholic prelates to convert two Jewish thieves sentenced to hang in 1736 Rome. A Brechtian chamber piece that unfolds in rich, startling friezes, Confortorio is a fascinating portrait of persecution that poignantly evokes Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc.
Bing Theater | Included with admission to O Sangue (Blood) | $5 for this film only | Tickets: 323 857-6010 or purchase online.
35mm print supplied by