Ends of Cinema

May 3-5, 2018 | A Center for 21st Century Studies Conference at UW-Milwaukee

“‘I Prayed a Barbarian Mass’: Cinemas and Cathedrals in Bahia”

Most of the lands in the central region of Salvador were (and still are) owned by the Catholic Church, and it is interesting to note that one of the first places to have a regular cinema program in the city was the Recreio São Jerônimo Cinema, founded in 1911 in a room inside the old archdiocese of Salvador (Sé).

The argument I develop in this article seeks to understand the complexities of Salvador’s religious, administrative and commercial center through the rise and fall of film projection activity, which began with public presentations of pioneering inventions such as Fotoveramovel, Catoptricon and Bioscope, among other novelties.

Considering their influence on the traffic around the squares, the rhythm of pedestrian movement and the normalization of daily habits, cinema and cathedral, film and mass, spectator and believer are figures that alternate and complement in the “holy of Cinelandia”, to use the expression by Vilém Flusser. Salvador did not even have its “cinelandia”, like Rio or Sao Paulo, however the cinemas that were opened around its central region during the 20th century numbered almost two dozen, and the role of religious orders in their maintenance and management is not small.

In this article I investigate ways in which the relationship between church and cinema has developed in the capital of Bahia, and how the liturgical functions of the two confuse and overlap in a blatant or subliminal way in the region of Sé, with its varied screenings ranging from religious films to pornography.

event link: www.c21uwm.com/endsofcinema