Italian-born filmmaker Ivan Olita pulls up a pew for one of Catholicism’s most symbolic ritual moments: mass. Premiering on the occasion of this year’s Met Gala, whose theme is Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, the Los Angeles-based filmmaker celebrates the culture and composition of a spiritually charged and exquisitely designed practice.
“Mass was a fundamental part of my upbringing. In this way, I was able to approach the film from a ‘pop’ angle by looking at its social context, where mass—and the Catholic Church itself—is a very important community aggregator. It goes beyond the spiritual and digs into real people who are part of a community, creating a shared moment, almost like attending a club—a place to hang, catch up, and take a break from daily life.
“This isn’t a sacrilegious film. I want to celebrate the gestures and carefully defined moments of mass and its community. Inspired by Italian auteur Paolo Sorrentino, I wanted to explore ‘Italianity’ and Catholicism by portraying the ritual of the mass as if I was working for the Vatican’s ad agency—producing a catchy commercial for the Instagram age.”