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The Mondo Film And Its Legacy

I think that Jacopetti opened a door into what some call postmodernism and I call boredom. Screen the JFK assassination enough times and the audience will laugh.” – J.G. Ballard

Every Scene Looks You in the Eye and Spits examines one of the most controversial film genres of all time: the mondo documentary film. Invented in Italy by Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi and Paolo Cavara, the first major success was Mondo Cane (1962).

At a time when documentary films were following the serious monochrome realism of Direct Cinema and the various New Waves, Mondo Cane offered audiences a dizzying Technicolor collage of rituals from around the globe along the theme of “primitive rites and civilised wrongs.”

Derided by critics and loved by the public, the mondo film can be seen to have influenced, for better or worse, many aspects of contemporary culture including sensationalist news reportage, reality TV, shock magazines and advertising, Eurotrash, online atrocity videos and more.

As one of the great chroniclers of this epoch, J.G. Ballard observed: “what the Mondo Cane audiences wanted was the horrors of peace… but they also wanted to be reminded of their own complicity in the slightly dubious process of documenting these wayward examples of human misbehaviour.”

This season comprises screenings of classic mondo films and illustrated talks exploring different aspects of mondo cinema and its legacy.

Curated by Mark Goodall, author of Sweet & Savage: The World Through The Mondo Film Lens.