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Savoca Becomes a Disciple on “Secret Magdalene”

AFM 2012: Not quite Darren Aronofsky’s Noah in scope, but after mounting a career comeback with the TIFF preemed, critically appreciated Union Square, THR reports that filmmaker Nancy Savoca will be taking on the biblical figure of Mary Magdalene with the adaption of Ki Longfellow’s novel Secret Magdalene. Executive produced by Jack Lechner (The Fog of War, Blue Valentine) and Richard Guay (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai ,  and Savoca’s Union Square), the 7 million dollar production looks at the character from a different vantage point that the Vatican will surely have something to say about.

Gist: Secret Magdalene is more a “what if” tale re-imagining the life of Mary Magdalene, one of the female followers of Jesus. The book synopsis refers to Longfellow’s novel as a radical retelling of Mary Magdalene to life-not as a prostitute or demon-possessed-but as an educated woman who was truly the “apostle to the apostles.” Double Dutch president Jason Moring is quoted as saying the storyline is “placed within an early Christian movement in a political context, seeing Jesus as part of a religious cult bent on toppling the political order of the time.”

Worth Noting: In our review for Union Square, our Nicholas Bell gave praise to the lead female perfs … “runs into some threadbare patches, but nothing that isn’t quickly dissipated by a passionately endearing performance from Sorvino, a role that manages to let her run the emotional gamut” …. “while it never manages to reach a noteworthy comedic burn or fulfill a compelling dramatic arc, there are several heartfelt and intense moments, shared by two estranged sisters that don’t exactly mesh.”

Do We Care?: Much of our interest lies on just how politically wrong this turns out to be and who’ll take on the role Mary Magdalene.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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