Mortara was a young Jewish boy living in Bologna, Italy, who in 1858, after being secretly baptized, was forcibly taken from his family to be raised as a Christian. His parents’ struggle to free their son became part of a larger political battle that pitted the papacy against forces of democracy and Italian unification. Mortara went on to become a priest in the Augustinian order.
Unlike Spielberg — who announced his Mortara drama in 2014 based on a book by U.S. academic David Kertzer — Bellocchio is basing his pic, titled “La conversione” (“The Conversion”), on first-hand documents. Spielberg’s project reportedly lost steam after he was unable