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Watch the official UK trailer for Marco Bellocchio’s historical drama Kidnapped. In cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from 26 April.

Never one to shy away from controversial subject matter, the veteran Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio (Fists in the Pocket, The Conviction) here brings to life an unbelievable true story lifted from the pages of a shocking and horrifying history.

The year is 1858. Following Pope Pius IX’s orders, soldiers burst into the Mortara family’s Bologna home to forcibly remove their six-year-old son Edgardo. This because they’d heard from the Jewish family’s maid that she had secretly baptised him as a sickly infant for fear that he would die a Jew and his soul would remain in limbo. As such, under the Church’s doctrine, the boy is no longer permitted to live with his non-Catholic family, and is taken to be raised by the Church itself. The distraught Mortara family try desperately to get Edgardo back, and the scandal soon makes its way across the country and Europe at large. As they embark on an international campaign to have their son returned, they find themselves at the epicentre of a wider historical battle between the forces of Catholic authoritarianism and the political awakening taking place across Italy and throughout Europe.

With Kidnapped, the Palme d’Or-winning director creates a gripping portrait of a small Jewish community in turmoil, at the mercy of a hostile and all-powerful theocracy. The film unfolds like a historical fresco, or a Caravaggio come to life, as Bellocchio brings a problematic part of his nation’s past to the screen, which stands as a testament to the perennial need, and the courage it requires, to resist totalitarianism.