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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Church row over film's sexual content
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Gael Garcia Bernal starred in Y Tu Mama Tambien
A Mexican film about a priest falling in love with a young girl has caused a storm of protest from some quarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

Gael Garcia Bernal, star of Y Tu Mama Tambien and Amores Perros, plays the church leader in El Crimen del Padre Amaro [The Crime of Father Amaro], which features scenes of sex and drugs.

But the head of the Mexican Bishops' Conference spoke of his anger at the film's content.

"This movie makes fun of the most sacred religious symbols of the Catholic community and of the religious beliefs of Catholics," the chairman of the Bishops' Conference Luis Morales told local radio.


I believe the controversy arises because it is an honest movie

Gael Garcia Bernal
"With great pain and great worry, united with the bishops of Mexico, I protest firmly and openly about the content of the movie," he added.

The movie has been part-funded by the Mexican Film Institute and the Mexican Government's arts council.

Leaders of a Catholic anti-abortion group have threatened to file a criminal complaint against the government for funding the film.

But other quarters of the Catholic Church have welcomed the film.

Mexican cathedral
The Mexican church also protested about films in 2000's Oscars
Father Rafael Gonzalez, spokesman for the Council of Mexican Bishops, who saw the film at a private screening, agreed the film was controversial but did not object to it.

"Some groups get radicalised, and say it's an attack against priests," Mr Gonzalez told the Reforma newspaper.

"It is a wake-up call for the church, to review its procedure for selecting and training priests, and being closer to the people," he said.

El Crimen del Padre Amaro is expected to be a huge box office success, thanks to the appeal of Garcia Bernal, who has emerged as one of the country's biggest stars.

He said people should not judge the film before seeing it.

"I believe the controversy arises because it is an honest movie," he said.

Drug trafficking

Bernal gained worldwide recognition after starring in the Oscar-nominated Amores Perros, which missed out on the Academy Award in 2001 to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the best foreign film category.

His profile was heightened with the international success of Y Tu Mama Tambien.

El Crimen del Padre Amaro is based on a novel by 19th-Century Portuguese writer Eca de Queiroz and tells the story of Father Amara as he falls in love with a 16-year-old girl.

It also features priests having sex and socialising with drug traffickers.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Miles
"Public opinion is still divided over the film"
See also:

05 Apr 00 | Americas
22 Jul 02 | Entertainment
31 Aug 01 | Entertainment
25 Jul 02 | Entertainment
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