Why you should see it:
Corpo celeste is an extraordinary debut feature from Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, sister of actress Alba Rohrwacher. An intimate drama laced with irreverent humor, the film features an astounding performance by young actress Yle Vianello as Marta, a young girl who moves from Switzerland to a small town in Italy with her family. There, Marta is confronted with the rigid Catholicism of her new peers, which is often at odds with her own spiritual exploration. As the town prepares for a visit from an important Bishop the absurdity of their religious spectacle is brought into sharp focus, often with hilarious results.
Cannes Film Festival; Karlovy Vary International Film Festival; Dubai International Film Festival; BFI London Film Festival. Corpo celeste won Best New Director (Alice Rohrwacher) and was nominated for Best Editing (Marco Spoletini) and Best Supporting Actress (Pasqualina Scuncia and Anita Caprioli) at the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalist Awards.
About the director:
Corpo celeste is Alice Rohrwacher’s first narrative feature. Her previous work has been in documentary films including Checosamanca (2006), which she directed, and Un piccolo spettacolo (2005), on which she served as writer, editor and cinematographer.
What the critics are saying:
Lee Marshall for Screen Daily: “Grittily real but somehow dreamlike at the same time, coming of age tale Corpo Celeste is a quietly impressive feature debut for documentary maker Alice Rohrwacher, sister of actress Alba. It plays like a southern Italian Dardenne brothers fable, mashed up with a critique of Catholicism that recalls a certain strand of neo-Neapolitan auteur cinema… The director’s combination of documentary rigour with a more resonantly symbolic treatment of the passage into adulthood is convincing.”
What the NYFF programmers say:
“Corpo celeste is the first film by Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, and I think this is one of the most impressive debuts we’ve seen in a while. It’s a film about a 13-year-old girl who moves with her family from Switzerland to Italy and about the perceived shortcomings in her religious education; when she gets to Italy she is put into a catechism class where her knowledge of the Catholic Church is constantly questioned. At the same time her town is preparing for the visit of a very important Bishop and there are all of these preparations for a celebration of his arrival—they are going to go to another town to get an enormous crucifix to put on display. The movie is very much about the genuine religious experience that this girl has, her own feelings about God and spirituality that run in sharp contrast to the ceremonial pageantry and rituals that mean “proper” observation of Catholic values to the people in this town. It’s a darkly funny film that really sticks the knife in the pomposity of the Catholic Church. It has some incredible images in it including one of this giant crucifix sliding off the roof of a priest’s car into the sea by the town. It also has a very striking performance by the young actress Yle Vianello, who is really front and center the whole time. It reminded me a lot of the early films of Marco Bellocchio that have the same mix of melodrama and dark comedy.” —Scott Foundas, Associate Program Director