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Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 12:01 GMT
Chile Temptation ban contested
Martin Scorcese
Martin Scorcese directed Last Temptation of Christ
Chilean lawyers are calling for an end to the ban on screening Martin Scorcese's film 1988 film Last Temptation of Christ.

The lawyers are taking their appeal to the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, in Costa Rica.

The film's depiction, in a fantasy scene, of Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene, caused widespread controversy on its release.

The ban in Chile dates back to the right-wing dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, which lasted from 1973 and 1990.

The film has been transformed into an emblem for the fight for freedom of expression

Alex Muņoz

It is a vestige of much more widespread film censorship during the period, and is a key point of contention in the wider struggle between the Catholic church and liberal politicians in the country.

"The film has been transformed into an emblem for the fight for freedom of expression, particularly artistic freedom to create," said one of the lawyers, Alex Munoz.

He said Chile's parliament had passed a law scrapping the ban last year following a ruling from the Costa Rican court ordering it to lift the 1997 High Court ban.

"But that law has still not come into force so the film is still prohibited," he added.

The ban in Chile dates back to the 1970s
The Catholic church in Chile is opposing moves by the centre-left government to liberalise family law.

Chile is the only western democracy, apart from Malta, where divorce is still illegal.

Scorcese's movie generated a record 1,554 complaints to the UK regulator the Independent Television Commission when it was show on Channel 4 in June 1995.

That only programme to come close to that number was last year's Brass Eye satire on the media's coverage of paedophilia - again shown on Channel 4 - which provoked 992 complaints.

About 10,000 Christians protested outside Universal Studios in Los Angeles when Last Temptation of Christ first opened.

See also:

21 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Spielberg and Scorsese 'form dream team'
23 Oct 99 | Tom Brook
Scorsese's still a winner
20 Feb 02 | Film
Catholics urge film poster ban
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