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Indiana University Press

Near the end of a candid 1966 documentary portrait of Pier Paolo Pasolini shot in 1966 (and shown last year on SBS), the French critic Jean-André Fieschi casually asks the Italian director whether art is for his a ‘matter of life and death’. Pasolini – who up to this point has been discoursing urbanely on class, culture, cinema and language like a true public intellectual – is floored by the question. ‘This changes the whole basis of our discussion,’ he declares, and goes on to confess that everything he has previously said is a mere mask hiding his actual, primal, angst-ridden feelings about life, death and survival. Unmasked as a trembling existentialist, Pasolini announces that the interview is over. And there Fieschi’s film abruptly ends.

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