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The filmmaker Abel Ferrara finds Catholicism an irresistible background and foreground to movie making–whether he’s filming the streets of New York City’s famous Little Italy or Rome.
Dennis Lim’s article “Struggling With Faith and Gentrification” in the New York Times explores Ferrara’s latest venture into the underbelly of the Catholic tradition:


Mary” is simply the most direct expression of spiritual crisis in a filmography riven with Catholic notions of guilt and redemption. “I don’t know how anyone with half a brain can make a movie that’s not about those things,” Mr. Ferrara said. “The Catholic thing is so ingrained in our upbringing. Where I come from you’re not raised to think on your own. It’s not that you’re pushed to read the Bible. The Bible is read to you.” But when he started working on “Mary” — “living within three blocks of the Vatican,” he noted — he revisited the Bible and this time approached it “as a revolutionary tome.”…Like a more serious and angst-ridden “Da Vinci Code,” the film draws on Gnostic texts that have offered alternate views of the life of Jesus and the origins of Christianity….With its sincerely ambivalent efforts to plumb the nature of belief, it’s the rare movie that could stand as a rebuke to both “The Passion of the Christ” and “Religulous.” Mr. Ferrara pointed out that “Mary” won not just jury and critics prizes at Venice but also the ecumenical award sponsored by a Catholic communications organization — or, as he proudly overstated it, “the Vatican seal of approval.”
Vatican approval? What? Could it really be?

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