· Vatican City ·

7 questions

Elisa Fuksas: baptism, and my first claim to autonomy

Elisa Fuksas (Photo by Marco Cella)
24 October 2020

At the age of 39, Elisa Fuksas, the Italian film director, found faith. She was baptized, and so challenged her secular education, her certainties, and her left-wing environment. She has recounted this unexpected spiritual journey in the autobiographical novel Love and Do What You Want (Marsilio), which is both profound, while at the same time disenchanted, marked as is the liturgical year; but, always sincere.

Is it an exaggeration to speak of a conversion?

It is more accurate to say that baptism was the epochal event of my life. The first, true claim to autonomy, the foundation of my identity and the discovery of the spiritual dimension. Before, for me, churches were just places of artistic interest.

Did you grow up being agnostic?

More than agnostic, I was a moralistic person, and intensely ideologised. This was in line with my environment, for despite the constant demands for freedom, the left wing is characterized by immense dogmatism.

Was it difficult to make your relatives and friends understand your choice?

Yes, it was. In my world, someone who believes is considered strange, someone who is lost or clings to faith after a personal tragedy. Nothing could be further from my experience: I came closer to God gradually, thanks to the encounter with certain people who opened my eyes.

Who are these people?

A priest who, upon seeing me terrified by death, suggested that I be baptized. This was Monsignor Giuseppe Betori (Cardinal, Metropolitan Archbishop of Florence, ed.) who married my parents in church 45 years after their civil marriage; a colleague at work who spoke to me about faith. And today I believe in a rational way, without fanaticism.

Do you think you have changed a lot?

Yes, I finally feel free. However, I have remained the same as yesterday with my virtues, doubts and faults. I do not deny the past.

Is it by chance that your encounter with faith coincided with your discovery that you have thyroid cancer, a circumstance you recounted in the film iSola?

At that same moment, I learned that my best friend also had a terrible disease. I am convinced that God does not test or punish us, yet I experienced the discovery of the disease during the lockdown, and the operation that I underwent occurred exactly one year after my baptism as non-random circumstances that pushed me to increasingly face up to the new path of life. In a few words, like signs of God.

Will your new status as a believer affect your work?

Without any doubt. I am thinking of a new film and I am struggling to find a story that does not add noise to the noise we are immersed in, confusion to confusion. A story that is extremely necessary. I will find it.

by Gloria Satta