In the past, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Mel Gibson filmed the crucifixion of Jesus in the town of Matera in southern Italy. In 2019, Matera became the backdrop for a new staging of the Passion. This time, Jesus was played by Cameroonian political activist Yvan Sagnet, who defends the rights of illegal workers exploited by a mafia-led agricultural system. Many of these workers are refugees from Africa and have nowhere else to go.
“The New Gospel”, winner of the Best Documentary award at the Swiss Film Festival, is both a recording of the theatre play’s rehearsals and, behind the scenes, a documentation of Sagnet and his African compatriots’ fight for visibility and dignity. We see Sagnet grow into his role as Jesus, the first black Jesus in the history of European cinema, as he mobilises groups of workers near Matera in a large-scale protest called the “Revolt of Dignity”. And dignity is precisely what this film aims for in its portrayals of activists and actors. Swiss stage and film director Milo Rau wants his work to “not just portray the world, but change it”. This project, more than just a film or a play, has led to better living conditions for the migrants of Matera and the founding of a fair trade brand in tomato farming in the region.

Director: Milo Rau
Producers: Arne Birkenstock, Sebastian Lemke, Olivier Zobrist
Script: Milo Rau
Cinematography: Thomas Eirich-Schneider
Sound: Marco Teufen, Julian Joseph
Editing: Katja Dringenberg
Production: Fruitmarket, Langfilm & IIPM – International Institute of Political Murder
Coproduction: SRF Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen / SRG SSR, ZDF with collaboration of ARTE, Fondazione Matera Basilicata 2019, Consorzio Teatri Uniti di Basilicata and Teatro di Roma, supported by Film und Medienstiftung NRW, Bundesamt fur Kultur (BAK), Zurcher Filmstiftung, DFFF – Deutscher Filmförderfonds, Kanton St. Gallen Kulturförderung / Swisslos, BKM – Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung fur Kultur und Medien, Volkart Stiftung, Suissimage Kulturfonds

Next Performances

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  • The Talking Car

    16 June 2024 — 18 June 2024
    Wiener festwochen

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    Under an invitation from BoCA, visual artist Agnieszka Polska creates her first theatre piece, with interpretation by Albano Jerónimo, Íris Cayatte, Vera Maintaino and Bartosz Bielenia. A group of people travel in a car that doesn't stop. A tale about one's role in the complex system of human and nonhuman agents and socio-technological infrastructures. 

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  • TERRA COBRE

    18 July 2024 — 19 July 2024
    Festival dos Canais

    JOÃO PAIS FILIPE & MARCO DA SILVA FERREIRA

    New performance by sound artist and sculpture João Pais Filipe and dancer/choreographer Marco da Silva Ferreira, crossing the traditional practice of Alcáçovas' rattle art with contemporary artistic practices, anchored in percussion and dance.

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  • The Talking Car

    06 September 2024 — 07 September 2024
    Nowy Teatr

    AGNIESZKA POLSKA

    Under an invitation from BoCA, visual artist Agnieszka Polska creates her first theatre piece, with interpretation by Albano Jerónimo, Íris Cayatte, Vera Maintaino and Bartosz Bielenia. A group of people travel in a car that doesn't stop. A tale about one's role in the complex system of human and nonhuman agents and socio-technological infrastructures.

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  • The Talking Car

    09 October 2024 — 10 October 2024
    HAU Berlin

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    Under an invitation from BoCA, visual artist Agnieszka Polska creates her first theatre piece, with interpretation by Albano Jerónimo, Íris Cayatte, Vera Maintaino and Bartosz Bielenia. A group of people travel in a car that doesn't stop. A tale about one's role in the complex system of human and nonhuman agents and socio-technological infrastructures.

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