Habemus Papem – September 15

Last film of the day and potentially the best was Habemus Papem (We have a Pope). We were lucky to have the director Nanni Moretti present who also acted in the film. Moretti is known for his comic and satiric take on Italian society and institutions and this time took on the Catholic Church and the Papacy. There was apparently much anxiety in Italy when it was revealed what his project was but the outcome was not as bad as many feared. This is a comic and satiric film but is not vitriolic or anti-catholic per se. Instead it is the fictional story of the selection of a new Pope who is reluctant to take his role. This is revealed to all just as the newly elected Pope is himself about to be revealed to the world. With a scream he retreats from the balcony and goes into hiding. All is put on hold as the Cardinals and the papal bureaucracy work to convince the new Pope to accept his place. Talk about a constitutional crisis! What to do when God’s elected bishop refuses to take the job on. There is no precedent and no way to go back. What follows is a very witty and whimsical trip including the hiring of Italy’s top psychoanalyst (played by Moretti himself) to treat the new Pope. One of the funniest scenes of the movie is the first session of the psychoanalytic intervention in which the psychiatrist and his patient begin to delve into his childhood issues and relationship with his mother with the entire College of Cardinals watching in a circle around them. Sadly the film ends with a whimper. Very disappointing and it spoiled the whole movie for me. Not sure I can recommend this to you but Moretti is not without talent and maybe if you just turn it off at the climax you will leave with a good impression.

This one was introduced and hosted by Piers Handling who clearly worships the director but who also clearly had no idea what the film was about. I don’t want to say bad things about Handling (well… sometimes I do). He is clearly good at running a festival at least in terms of attracting good films but he himself is not the best at understanding the films he has selected. Sadly he was a bit of an embarrassment in the Q and A until he silenced himself after being put down by the director and let the audience ask some questions.

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