In 1858 Italy, Pope Pius IX orders the seizure of Edgardo Mortara, the six-year-old son of a middle class Jewish family after a maid claimed to have secretly baptized him as an infant. The incident and the ensuing power struggle resonated around the world at a time when anti-Semitism was on the rise and the political power of the Catholic Church in Italy was teetering. In his 26th feature, acclaimed director Bellocchio pulls out all the stops in recreating the story with sumptuous period settings and trademark melodramatic flair. Raised by Vatican minions as the pope’s pet and protégé while his desperate parents fight to reclaim him, little Edgardo becomes both a pawn and a symbol of Europe’s fomenting religious and political turmoil. World premiere, 2023 Cannes International Film Festival. In Italian, Hebrew, and Latin with English subtitles.
“A moving story of faith, loss and family set against the backdrop of a significant moment in Italian history.”—Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Alliance of Women Film Journalists
“Bellocchio treats the tale as an unabashed melodrama, one kept at a stress-inducing simmer with occasional surges of operatic emotion.”—Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine