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Montréal, mon amour, mon histoire
A series of 5 documentaires on the history of Montreal
The rebirth of East Timor
For a limited time, the complete film is offered for viewing on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the rebirth of East Timor
The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez
Paul Sauvé: Désormais, l'avenir
Windows to Heaven:
The Art and Life of Guido Nincheri
A Separate Reality:
The Geometry of Love
Against All Odds:
Sylvie Fréchette's Story
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The film Geometry of Love seeks to visualize the ideas about the symbolism of a Christian church contained in Canadian scholar Margaret Visser’s best-seller, The Geometry of Love. This photo was taken at St. Basel’s church, in Toronto, as our shooting began in January 2006.
t took Visser four years of work in seven languages to understand the many meanings of the church of St. Agnese fuori le mura (‘St. Agnes outside the walls’) in Rome. “This is the story of one church that represents all churches,” says Visser, “and what I most want is for people to realize how rich and profound the meaning is that can be found in any church.”
St. Agnes is a small church by Roman standards. But it has all the elements of a traditional church, which Visser sought to study: the narthex or vestibule; the central aisle, called a ‘nave’; the canopy over the altar –a reference to the exodus of the Jews- and the rounded apse at the back, representing paradise.
St. Agnes, depicted here in a Byzantine mosaic, was a 12 year-old girl who was slain in the year 305 when she refused to worship the Goddess Minerva. The church was built directly over her grave.
For the first 1300 years, the church of St. Agnes was literally buried deep in the earth and the faithful were required to enter by going down a long staircase. They would look up to see the light coming in through windows close to the ceiling.
Columns, says Visser, represent ‘all believers, anybody who supports the church. So they are almost like little people. We carry the church as believers.”
The coffin of St. Agnes is directly under the altar, at the end of a long walk through catacombs that go on for miles below the church. “This tomb is deep in the earth,” says Visser, “and it rises up through the altar up and up through the canopy, through the apse, and out of the church, up to the top of the spire, and next is heaven.”
During the Feast of St. Agnes, held in January, Agnes is represented by two lambs – one wearing a red garland signifying martyrdom, and the other wearing a white garland to represent virginity. Yet Agnes almost certainly did not die a virgin. “The church is very conservative,” says Visser.
Sacristan Arnaldo Iacomini prepares the red curtains that will hang at the church’s entrance on Via Nomentana during the Feast of St. Agnes.
Canadian cinematographer Craig Wroblesky used a mini-jib and a Panasonic HD camera to shoot the church of St. Agnes over nine intense days.
The challenge was to create living, dynamic images to represent Visser’s ideas. A small crew was assembled in Rome to shoot the documentary much like a feature film.
Visser writes that the game of hopscotch represents both the layout of a church and man’s walk to paradise. So we shot this scene in the schoolyard at St. Agnes with local children. “It’s extraordinary that a child’s game can hold all this symbolism,” says Visser.
During the film, Visser speaks candidly about her return to Catholicism after a powerful conversion experience in 1982. Here, she relaxes in a pause during the shooting of the master interview at the church.
From left to right, Producer Colin Neale, Director of Photography Craig Wroblesky, Director Paul Carvalho, Margaret Visser, Producer Bev Bliss. Kneeling, soundman Frank Russo. All photos by Stefano Delia.
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