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The Machine that Kills Bad People: Corpo Celeste + Stabat Mater
Institute of Contemporary Arts
Corpo Celeste, dir. Alice Rohrwacher, Italy 2011, 100 min., Italian with English subtitles 

The bi-monthly film club returns for its first double bill of 2021 with Corpo Celeste and the short Stabat Mater.

One of the most remarkable yet discreet debuts of the last decade, Corpo Celeste announced a major talent in director Alice Rohrwacher, whose signature blend of earthy realism and cosmic mystery arrived seemingly fully formed. Shot on Super 16mm with handheld immediacy by the great Hélène Louvart, Rohrwacher’s film chronicles the physical and spiritual awakening of Marta (Yle Vianello), a soon-to-be 13-year-old girl who has recently relocated with her overworked mother and rather odious older sister from Switzerland to Reggio Calabria on Italy’s southern coast.

Drawing from French feminist theory and her Mediterranean Catholic upbringing, Nina Danino's Stabat Mater investigates female subjectivity and desire, with particular attention to the voice.
The Machine That Kills Bad People is, of course, the cinema – a medium that is so often and so visibly in service of a crushing status quo but which, in the right hands, is a fatal instrument of beauty, contestation, wonder, politics, poetry, new visions, testimonies, histories, dreams. It is also a film club devoted to showing work – ‘mainstream’ and experimental, known and unknown, historical and contemporary – that takes up this task. The group borrowed their name from the Roberto Rossellini film of the same title, and find inspiration in the eclectic juxtapositions of Amos Vogel’s groundbreaking New York film society Cinema 16.

The Machine That Kills Bad People is held bi-monthly in the ICA Cinema and is programmed by Erika Balsom, Beatrice Gibson, Maria Palacios Cruz and Ben Rivers.

Corpo Celeste, dir. Alice Rohrwacher, Italy 2011, 100 min., Italian with English subtitles

Stabat Mater, dir. Nina Danino, United Kingdom 1990, 8 min., 16mm, colour, sound

All films are ad-free and 18+ unless otherwise stated, and start with a 10 min. curated selection of trailers.

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Essay by Andréa Picard