Italian actor fends off Church sex scene criticism

Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:47pm EST
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By Iain Rogers

BERLIN (Reuters) - Italian actor Nanni Moretti on Wednesday defended himself against accusations of vulgarity from the Catholic Church prompted by a graphic sex scene he performs in his latest movie.

Speaking at a news conference at the Berlin film festival, where the film, "Caos Calmo" (Quiet Chaos), is in competition, Moretti accused Italy's media of stirring up controversy and said its politicians lacked courage to stand up to the Vatican.

"It seems to me that politicians in Italy are more vulnerable and afraid than before," Moretti, who is also a film director, said. "And the newspapers are more and more prisoners of their own hysterical shoddiness."

"Caos Calmo," based on the 2005 novel by Sandro Veronesi and directed by Antonello Grimaldi, tells the moving story of television executive Pietro Paladini, played by Moretti. The book is a best seller in Italy and won the country's top literary prize in 2006.

During a day at the beach with his brother Carlo, played by Alessandro Gassman, Pietro saves a woman from drowning who remains unaware of her rescuer's identity.

On his return home, he discovers his wife has had a fatal accident and Moretti portrays the confused way in which Pietro deals with his grief.

By coincidence, the woman he saved, played by Isabella Ferrari, comes back into his life and the two meet and indulge in a one-off burst of vigorous sex lasting for several minutes.

The scene has provoked controversy in predominantly Catholic Italy, where Moretti, whose film "La Stanza Del Figlio" (The Son's Room) won the top prize at Cannes in 2001, is seen as a leading left-wing intellectual.   Continued...

<p>Actor Nanni Moretti poses during a photocall to present the Italian film "Caos calmo" (Quiet chaos) running in the competition at the 58th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 13, 2008. The 58th Berlinale, one of the world's most prestigious film festivals, runs from February 7 to 17 in the German capital. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>