Parish Movie Halls Making a Comeback

Tool for Formation and Entertainment, Says Professor

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MILAN, Italy, FEB. 28, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Parish movie halls, being relaunched by the Italian bishops' conference, are being touted as a valid instrument of formation and entertainment.



Mariagrazia Fanchi, professor of media analysis at the Catholic University of Milan, and promoter of this project, explained to ZENIT that there are more than 1,000 such halls -- in the past they were called "parish cinemas" -- in which films are projected and cinema-forums promoted.

Together with Alberto Bourlot, professor of theory and techniques of communication at the same university, Fanchi carried out research and wrote a book entitled "La Sala della Comunità" (The Community Hall) on the impact of this reality.

"The cinema represents, without a doubt, a precious occasion of communication in the world of youth," and must be taken advantage of "opportunely as an occasion of formation and catechesis," Fanchi said.

In the parish movie halls, recent as well as historical films are shown, and debates are organized afterward. Sometimes, experts comment on them.

"The cultural project of Community Halls is oriented precisely in this direction. It is an effort to transform an experience of pure entertainment into a moment of growth and communion," said Fanchi. "This is a fundamental point, which calls for an educational project in the culture of images, capable of explaining the functioning of audiovisual and film texts."

The cultural project seeks among other things to educate in images in order to form "critical consciences of an ethical and aesthetic character," she added.

Fanchi added: "This awareness allows us to explore the experience of the cinematographic view, which continues to possess an added value in terms of attention and involvement with respect to other audiovisual media, such as, for example, television."