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Sunday, August 20, 2017
Date Posted:

Scene from 'The Magdalene Sisters'

Anti-Catholic film wins award at festival

David Kirkwood

The Vatican’s newspaper has denounced an award-winning film by a Scottish Catholic director that allegedly portrayed life inside asylums once run by Irish nuns, describing the movie an "angry and rancorous provocation".

A review in L’Osservatore Romano attacked Peter Mullan’s film, The Magdalene Sister, saying that it sinks to "coarseness" and "banality" in presenting the story of four women who are brutalised by nuns in a "Magdalene asylum" for unwed mothers and other young women in 1960s Ireland.

Fr Franco Patruno, an art critic for the newspaper, hit out at the artistic choices of film’s director who was brought up a Catholic.

"If he wanted to inform his own church….about the scandal of certain psychopathic detention centres in Ireland and Scotland, the director certainly could not have achieved his goal with this angry and rancorous provocation," he wrote.

Peter Mullan, who is best known for his award-winning acting role in Ken Loach’s 1998 film, My Name is Joe, this week, won the Venice Film Festival’s prestigious Golden Lion for The Magdalene Sisters.

Fr Patruno said Mullan’s film had been "rashly allowed to pass as a work of art at the Venice festival."

The Vatican critic condemned Mullan’s portrayal in the film of a priest, a bishop, and the nuns running the asylum, saying the director’s "rancour" resulted in "failed caricatures".

He continued: "The fact that the priest is a hypocrite… is written on his face and is like a mark that – the director seems to suggest – is cut into all priests."

Meanwhile, Frances Higson who produced The Magdalene Sisters, said: "The Vatican has condemned this film, and it will probably be quite controversial, but I hope it will force the Catholic Church to pay compensation to these women that were so badly damaged by their experience."

She added: "At the very least I hope it makes more people aware of what happened at this convent."

Mullan’s agent, Ann Coulter, refused to comment.

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