“The New Gospel”: Milo Rau restages the Passion of Christ in today’s Italy – and challenges the Italian government

“Milo Rau’s art reaches for life, it means the whole thing,” wrote Bishop Hermann Glettler of Innsbruck recently on Vatican News about the project “Orestes in Mosul,” which Rau staged this spring in the former capital of the Islamic state. Now Rau and his team dare to tackle the probably most influential myth in Europe: the New Testament. In and around Matera, where the controversial Jesus films by Pasolini and Mel Gibson were made, “the world’s most controversial theatre director” (The Telegraph) will film the Passion of the Christ from the end of August on under the title “The New Gospel” (Production: Fruitmarket Köln/Langfilm Zürich/SRF SSR/ZDF/ARTE) – with a cast of refugees, activists and former actors from Pasolini and Gibson’s films.


With the activist and former plantation worker Yvan Sagnet, for the first time in film history a black Jesus will be standing in front of the camera – at the side of Enrique Irazoqui (Pasolini’s Jesus in “Vangelo Secondo Matteo”), Maia Morgenstern (Holy Mary in Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”), Marcello Fonte (European Film Prize for “Dogman”) and countless other actors and actresses from all walks of life in Italy. In a series of public shoots in the European Capital of Culture Matera, Jesus will once again proclaim the Word of God, be crucified (28 September, 5-6 October 2019) and finally rise from the dead in Rome, the capital of Catholic Christianity and seat of one of the most xenophobic governments in Europe (10 October 2019).


Parallel to the film, the humanistic message of the New Testament will be transformed into the present: At the beginning of September, the campaign “Rivolta della Dignità” (Revolt of Dignity), which demands fair working and living conditions for refugees, global freedom of travel and civil rights for all, starts with a march from the southern Italian refugee camps. “It’s about putting Jesus on his feet,” as director Milo Rau explains in the press kit. Led by Jesus actor Yvan Sagnet, the campaign fights for the rights of migrants who came to Europe via the Mediterranean to be enslaved by the Mafia in the tomato fields of southern Italy and to live in ghettos under inhumane conditions.


The campaign and the film thus create a “New Gospel” for the 21st century, a manifesto of solidarity with the poorest, a revolt for a more just and humane world. “We want to bring down the Mafia system on these plantations. And at the same time we are shooting a big new Jesus movie,” as Milo Rau recently told “Freitag” editor Jakob Augstein. In the heart of Europe, in the European Capital of Culture and in Rome itself, the Italian government and with it the humane refugee policy of the EU are challenged, supported by partner organisations from Medico International to Seawatch.


Interested? Or do you even want to become part of the campaign? In the press kit you will find all the data, background information and a detailed interview with Yvan Sagnet and Milo Rau – who reports on his research and shootings to date here. From the start of the campaign at the end of August, the “Manifesto of Dignity” adopted by all partner organisations and supporters can also be signed, commented on and the upcoming events followed on the homepage of the “Rivolta della Dignità”. Do you want to get involved now? Write us an email at vangelo@international-institute.de !


For all other dates of the autumn and the current summer tour of the IIPM/NTGent from the Festival d’Avignon to the Edinburgh Festival to the Aichi Triennale Japan, the Tampere Festival Finland or the BITEF Festival Belgrade: see here and here.