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Catholic Protesters Rally Against ‘Paradise: Faith,’ Calling It ‘Blasphemous’

Catholic Protesters Rally Against 'Paradise: Faith,' Calling It 'Blasphemous'

Devout Catholics have picketed movie theater screenings of “Paradise: Faith,” part two of Austrian director Ulrich Seidl’s trilogy, in New York and Los Angeles. The film was recently released by Strand Releasing.

The button-pushing film involves a deeply Catholic woman who is married to a disabled Muslim man and features provocative images which some Catholics have called “blasphemous.”

Protesters congregated outside of the Village East City Cinemas in Manhattan’s East Village and the Silent Movie Theater in West Hollywood holding signs.

“Defamation is Not Free Speech” and “Why the endless insults to Jesus?” were just two of the sayings on protesters’ placards.

According to The America Needs Fatima blog:

On very short notice TFP-America Needs Fatima representative, Michael Whitcraft, called friends of Our Lady to pray a Rosary of Reparation in front of the Silent Theater on Wednesday night, Aug. 29, against this very offensive movie….

The protest consisted in praying the fifteen decades of the rosary, some other prayers (especially the St. Michael prayer) and the Litany of Our Lady.  Our people spread out single to double file to cover the entire front of the cinema. 

We were very happy and consoled to be able to offer this public act of reparation against such a terrible pornographic attack on the Holy Crucifix of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The blog called the film “a terrible pornographic attack on Jesus’ crucifix,” because of a scene in which the protagonist masturbates with a crucifix.

In his review of the film at The Playlist, Oliver Lyttleton anticipates the response from the religious right:

Annamaria stumbles across an orgy in the park, featuring real penetrative sex, while there’s one scene later featuring religious imagery that would have the moral majority up in arms if there was ever any chance of them seeing it (not that that’s stopped them, historically).

In an interview with Indiewire’s chief film critic Eric Kohn during last year’s Berlin International Film Festival, Seidl said of “Paradise; Faith,” “On the one hand, some audiences will say, ‘Too bad this film isn’t provocative. On the other hand, some of them will fear the provocation. The films are made now. It’s up to them.”

Tell us. Does this controversy make you want to see the movie?

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I believe it is important to try to establish a film's context before issuing a judgement, but, at times, I feel there is a false naivete that filmmakers (or controversial film defenders) fall prey to. In this instance the outrage seems to be over a particular image that, regardless of context, religious minded people (I am not Catholic) are declaring is offensive. I do find it interesting to examine a believer's "love" of God pursued to a particular logical end point in a person's sexual identity to the object of their faith, but I do not see how the common cry of "close-mindedness" can be applied to the Catholics upset by this reported image. If God exists in the way Catholics claim, it is expected for them to react this way. This is their free speech reaction to the image in the film, and I guess I am just glad to not see them trying to burn the theatre down. As to the film itself, the idea of "controversy" as being a reason to see a film feels just as manipulative as a toy marketing cross-promotion campaign with a fast food restaurant. The fact that this film is generating controversy does not make me any more interested in seeing it, than reading the description and some articles on it. Nothing about the film, that I've read, seems to indicate a film (or trilogy) I am particularly interested in exploring, so I guess my long answer is a "no" to the controversy piquing my interest, but I am strangely encouraged by this particular display of protest by Catholics.


If the masturbatiom had been with any other kind of religious object from another faith the film would have been seen as offensive and people on both the left and right would be bothered. Disrespecting other faiths is wrong and rude, but unfortunately for whatever reason disrespecting those of Christian faith is totally fine. The premise of the movie sounds interesting, but after hearing about this scene I will not be putting my money towards supporting it.


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