New Polish film tackles homosexuality in Catholic Church

Fri Feb 8, 2013 10:21am EST
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By Gareth Jones

BERLIN (Reuters) - Polish director Malgoska Szumowska tackles the controversial topic of homosexuality in the Roman Catholic priesthood in her film "In the Name of" that had its world premiere on Friday but she said her aim was not to deliver a political message.

"In the Name of", the first of 19 competition entries to screen at this year's Berlin film festival, focuses on a priest's struggle with his sexuality while working with troubled youths in a deprived corner of rural Poland where drug and alcohol abuse are commonplace.

The film takes a swipe at the Catholic Church, which still wields huge influence in Poland, and Szumowska said she expects Polish conservatives to react negatively, but she said her main concern was to depict the loneliness of a priest's life.

"They (the Catholic Church) don't want to change anything. The church does not fit in with modern society," Szumowska told a news conference after the screening.

"Out of this conflict only bad things happen. I think they are extremely closed and intolerant... But I am not a politician or an intellectual," she added.

"We did not want to make a movie about an oppressive church... We wanted to make a movie about love."

The priest Adam, played by Andrzej Chyra, has a good rapport with the dope-smoking, hard-talking young men in his care, playing soccer and swimming in a lake with them. He wards off his growing sexual frustration with long runs in the forest.

After rejecting the advances of a young woman parishioner Ewa, Adam strikes up a friendship with the taciturn son of a simple local family who returns his affection.   Continued...

Director Malgoska Szumowska poses during a photocall to promote the movie "In the name" at the 63rd Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 8, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch