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International Executive: Vatican TV Puts Pope on Multiple Platforms

CTV director Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano taps into high-tech innovations to send images around the world

The words “pope” and “cutting-edge” may seem incongruous, but Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano is helping keep the age-old institution firmly in the 21st century.

Vigano’s main mission as director of the Vatican Television Center (CTV): to provide global TV and Internet feeds of what unfolds in the Vatican’s inner sanctums, to which CTV has exclusive access. For example, having provided footage of the March 14 papal conclave that resulted in the election of Pope Francis, as well as Easter mass on March 31, Vigano will be working on the May 19 Pentecost Mass in St. Peter’s that marks the end of Easter season.

CTV, founded in 1983 under John Paul II’s watch, is headquartered in Vatican City. It handles more than 200 events yearly, including exclusive access to some 130 live events inside the Vatican, as well as the Pope’s travels in Italy and abroad (which are not exclusive).

The footage, in HD, is picked up via satellite by hundreds of broadcasters and TV news agencies all over the world.

CTV feeds also are streamed via Vatican Player, which has a Web TV component, with live footage of all papal celebrations. They are uploaded on the Vatican channel on YouTube as well. Most CTV content is aired in Italy by terrestrial channel TV2000, owned by the Italian Bishop’s Conference. The content airs live on Italo digital terrestrial channel CTV HD, too.

Vigano is a new-media man. “The Church’s presence on the Internet is an important signal, a point of no return,” he tells Variety. It signals a desire to enter into dialogue with the worlds of art, culture, science and, more importantly, with atheists.

Young Catholics are key. On March 23, Vigano played a role in the Vatican’s first international youth meet under Pope Francis, where 130 young people from around the globe, selected through Facebook, congregated in Rome to discuss social themes. It’s a safe bet Francis will not gain teen converts with his criticism of progressive U.S. nuns, birth control and gay marriage. Those are the same views as his predecessor, but the new pope is much more on message with the younger generation, thanks to his history of having spoken out against the “dirty war” in Argentina, and his devotion to the poor and the downtrodden. Vigano is sure to play this up.

The 50-year-old Monsignor, born in Rio De Janeiro, has held his current post since Jan. 22. He heads the Vatican’s film entity, Ente dello Spettacolo, which produces film-related content and runs the Tertio Millennio Film Fest, with satellite editions in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Lubiana, Poland.

Recent pics at the fest include “Take Shelter,” by Jeff Nichols; Saudi Arabian “Wadjda,” by Haifaa Al Mansour; and “Riding for Jesus,” about Christian bikers in Texas, by Sabrina Varani.

Vigano says his biggest passion in life (after Christ) is movies. In his current role, he has definitely shown a cinematic flair. Vigano had a hand in staging the James Bond-esque departure from the Vatican of retired Pope Benedict, using a Wescam gyro-stabilized imaging system mounted on a helicopter. “The helicopter took a spin around the cupola (of St. Peter’s) before flying low over the rooftops of Rome, almost caressing people in their homes,” as Vigano describes it.

Vigano compares the scene to the famous opening sequence in “La Dolce Vita,” of a helicopter carrying a statue of Christ across Rome.

The Monsignor is also a film and communications academic, author of books about movies, TV, advertising and their links to the Roman Catholic Church.

His books include “Gesu e la macchina da presa. Dizionario ragionato del cinema cristologico,” which can be translated as “Jesus and the Movie Camera. A Dictionary of Christological Cinema.”

It seems that Vigano has landed the perfect gig.

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