By Marcel GONNET


Documentary - Completed 2015

The rediscovery of a silent film made in 1924 in northern Italy,reveals the story of the Waldensians,a medieval heretical movement that went against the Vatican, survived the Inquisition and that more than eight centuries later continues to live in the agricultural colonies of Argentina and Uruguay.

& Awards

Ventana Sur 2015
Video Library
    • Year of production
    • 2015
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 0.3 - 0.6 M$
    • Duration
    • 80 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Marcel GONNET
    • Writer(s)
    • Marcel GONNET
    • Producer(s)
    • Synopsis
    • Medieval heretics and the first protestant church in history, the Waldensians are at once an 850-year-old community of peasants and a religious movement that has withstood centuries of persecution and, in the last decade, questioned the Vatican’s stance during debates about homosexuality and euthanasia.
      In Europe, the Inquisition was responsible for the persecution of groups that defied Rome, making the Cathars, the Hussites and the Waldensians the bonfire’s main victims during Medieval times.
      The Waldensians survived through the centuries confined to the steep valleys between what is now the Franco-Italian border, where they educated their priests (the Barbi) in small clandestine schools in the Alps. The experience helped them acquire a peculiar view on social, political and religious phenomena. With the arrival of the Protestant Reformation they joined the Calvinists and it wasn’t until 1851 that they were finally able to obtain their civil rights.
      The Waldensian colonies have been around for a century and a half in Argentina and Uruguay alone. Nowadays, the Waldensian church is lead by two assemblies, or synods: one created in Italy and the other on the Rio de la Plata. In the past years, the synods of both regions have debated on subjects such as abortion and biological will (for those whom refuse to prolong their lives through artificial methods), and have carried out social work related to immigration, communities at risk and several issues related to human rights.
      The documentary “Waldensians” revolves around a fictional feature film called Fideli per secoli, made by a group of young Italians in 1924. Through the theatrics of silent films and the reconstruction of historical events, the film portrays the origins of this religious movement and its mythical battles of resistance.
      Due to censorship from the fascists, very few Waldensians know of the existence of Fideli per secoli. The film was lost for decades until its recovery towards the end of the ‘70s. This documentary project includes the digitalization and second premier of the silent film in the Argentinian, Uruguayan and Italian communities, and even in the United States, where Waldensian communities have settled as well.
      The screenings of the film will be good platforms for the inclusion of the vast variety in elements of Waldensian culture; the community’s music and theatrical interventions will be included in the screenings and the documentary will seek to recover the different images and iconography of the Waldensian movement: paintings, engravings and the history behind eight centuries of persecution and resistance.
      The dynamics of the re-release of a silent film will allow us to register the lives of different characters, Waldensian women and men, who will each tell the long history of this “people-church’s” resistance in a two-way mirror between reality and representation, between the medieval Waldensians and the current lives of a series of people with diverse languages, thou
    • Partners & financing
    • - Postproduction
    • Beginning of shooting
    • May 01, 2013