Matera and Cinema

Since the 1950s about 70 films, documentaries and audiovisual works have been shot in Matera, but it is still difficult to account for all of them, especially as regards what are known as ‘minor works’. A significantly increasing number of religious films has been shot in the “biblical Matera set” in recent years.
From the summer of 2017 to the early months of 2021, Matera hosted over 140 cinema, audiovisual and photography productions. Among the most important films shot in Matera worth mentioning are: ” The King’s Moskeeters” by Giovanni Veronesi, “Il ladro di giorni” by Guido Lombardi, “Project 62” produced by Yash Raj Films – India, “Marghe and her mother” by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the successful RAI TV series Imma Tataranni – Sostituto Procuratore by Francesco Amato (of which shooting for the second season is almost over), No Time to Die by Cary Fukunaga (the latest chapter in the saga dedicated to secret agent 007 – James Bond, due out in the next few months), The New Gospel by Milo Rau, The Last Planet by Terrence Malick, as well as numerous commercials for famous brands such as Ferrari, Fiat).

Matera is considered as a natural setting for films. The outstanding locations in the Sassi districts have inspired and enchanted many well-known Italian and international filmmakers. More than forty films have been shot in Matera since the 1950s. The first film dates back to 1949 and its title is “Nel mezzogiorno qualcosa è cambiato”, the first documentary film directed by Carlo Lizzani. In 1961 Italia ’61 by Jan Lenica was shot in Matera. “Anno uno” (1974) by Roberto Rossellini features the political life of Alcide De Gasperi through his most famous speeches. Many dramatic films were also shot in Matera such as “Le due sorelle” (1950) by Mario Volpe, “La lupa” (1953) by Alberto Lattuada, “Il conte di Matera” (1957) by Luigi Capuani, “Demonio” (1963) by Brunello Rondi, I “Basilischi2 (1963) by Lina Wertmuller, “L’albero di Guernica” (1975) by Fernardo Arrabal, “Cristo si è fermato a Eboli” (1979) and “Tre fratelli” (1981) by Francesco Rosi, “Il sole anche di notte “(1990) by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, “Del perduto amore” (1998) by Michele Placido, “Il Rabdomante” (2005) by Fabrizio Cattani. Among the comedies shot in Matera worth mentioning are: “Anni ruggenti” (1962) by Luigi Zampa, “Made in Italy” (1965) by Nanni Loy, “C’era una volta” (1967) by Francesco Rosi, “Decamerone nero” (1972) by Piero Vivarelli, “Qui comincia l’avventura”(1975) by Carlo di Palma, “L’uomo delle stelle” (1995) by Giuseppe Tornatore, “Marry Me” (2014) by Liu Jiang. The religious films such as “The Gospel According to St. Matthew “(1964) by Pier Paolo Pasolini and The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson, are those that have left an indelible mark on the history of cinema. Matera is at its best in cinema when it has to ‘play’ the part of Jerusalem. Other films of the same religious and biblical genre are “King David” (1985) by Bruce Beresford, “The Nativity Story” (2006) by Catherine Hardwicke, “The Young Messiah” (2015) by Cyrus Novrasteh, Ben Hur (2015) by Timur Bekmambetov, Mary Magdalene (2016) by Garth Davis. Action films were also shot in Matera such as “Terra Bruciata” (1999) by Giancarlo Giannini and the latest in the James Bond series “No time to die” (2019) by Cary Fugunaga. The horror film “The Omen” (2006) was directed by John Mooree. Furthermore, War films such as “Volontari per destinazione ignota” (1978) by Alberto Negrin, fantasy films such as “Il tempo dell’inizio” (1974) by Luigi Di Gianni and RAI dramas such as Artemisia Sanchez, Sorelle and Imma Tataranni were shot in Matera.