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That's la Morte: Italian Cult Cinema and the Years of Lead (2019)

  • Peabody Essex Museum 161 Essex Street Salem, Massachusetts United States (map)

'That’s la Morte: Italian Cult Cinema and the Years of Lead' is a new 80 minute documentary that considers how cult and horror film cycles came to reflect wider anxieties within 1970s Italy.

The documentary links such populist releases to the wider social, historical and political tensions within the 'anni di piombo' (or ‘years of lead’). Here, a decade of violent revolt, terrorist activity and militant sexual politics created a context of trauma that impacted on the Italian collective and cinematic consciousness. Some of the memorable markers in this decade included the 1969 Piazza Fontana (Milan) and 1980 (Bologna) bombings by clandestine fascist groups, as well as sustained violent activity by leftist collectives such as The Red Brigades (including their spectacularly tragic kidnapping and murder of Christian Democrat Premier Aldo Moro in 1978). These atrocities (compounded by over 14,000 additional terrorist attacks upon Italian citizens between 1969 and 1983) were systematically reproduced in the popular film templates of the giallo (thriller), rogue cop films and sex comedy cycles that the documentary explores.

'That’s la Morte' combines exclusive interviews with leading Italian filmmakers, performers, composers and screenwriters associated with the years of lead, whilst also containing a range of film and archival materials from this prolific period of production.

Directed by Xavier Mendik
1hr 20m