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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Film upsets Italian bishops
Italian bishops are unhappy over movie's content
Italian bishops are unhappy over the movie's content
A controversial Italian movie picked to compete at the Cannes film festival has caused an outcry in the Roman Catholic church.

Marco Bellocchio's The Religion Hour features a family who are trying to have a woman made into a saint and the effects this has on her confirmed atheist son.

The systematic destruction of family and religious values remains his sole preferred target

CEI on Marco Bellocchio
The film, which opened across Italy on Friday, has provoked harsh criticism from the official organization of Italian bishops, the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana (CEI).

In a statement, the CEI told the Daily Variety newspaper: "Mr Bellocchio shows no sign of having progressed since 1964, when he debuted with Fists in the Pocket.

"The systematic destruction of family and religious values remains his sole preferred target, even in the third millennium."

The director hit back claiming the movie was a family drama and not a deconstruction of the Catholic church.

He added while he respected the CEI's right to take a critical view of the film, they could not question its inclusion in the Cannes line-up.


Mr Bellocchio is a veteran of Italian cinema.

Born in Piacenza in 1939, he achieved fame with his first feature movie, Fists in the Pocket, in 1964.

The low-budget movie about a family of epileptics won an award at Switzerland's prestigious Locarno film festival.

He has won many awards over the years, including a special jury prize at Berlin's film festival for 1991's La Condanna.

He has been nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes four times, without success, although Michel Piccoli and Anouk Aimée won the best actor and actress prizes for their roles in his 1980 movie Leap Into Void.

His last nomination was three years ago for La Balia.

See also:

18 Apr 02 | Film
Yeoh added to Cannes jury
09 Apr 02 | Film
UK films to 'storm' Cannes
20 Feb 02 | Film
Catholics urge film poster ban
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