MATERA, ITALY - 5 OCTOBER 2019: Yvan Sagnet (34, center), a political activist and former exploited tomato farmer, performs Jesus Christ in the scene of the encounter with the Pharisees in "The New Gospel", a film by Swiss theatre director Milo Rau in Matera, Italy, on October 5th 2019.
Theatre Director Milo Rau filmed the Passion of the Christ under the title “The New Gospel” with a cast of refugees, activists and former actors from Pasolini and Mel Gibson’s films.
The role of Jesus is performed by Yvan Sagnet, a Political activist born in Cameroon and who worked on a tomato farm when in 2011 he revolted against the system of exploitation and led the first farm workers’ strike in southern Italy. In a series of public shoots in the European Capital of Culture Matera, Jesus will proclaimed the Word of God, was crucified (October 6th 2019) and finally rose from the dead in Rome, the capital of Catholic Christianity and seat of one of the most xenophobic governments in Europe (October 10th 2019).
Parallel to the film, the humanistic message of the New Testament was transformed into the present: at the beginning of September, the campaign “Rivolta della Dignità” (Revolt of Dignity), which demanded fair working and living conditions for refugees, global freedom of travel and civil rights for all, started with a march from the southern Italian refugee camps. “It’s about putting Jesus on his feet,” director Milo Rau said. 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.