Poland’s ruling party pressures cinemas to stop showing blockbuster film about Catholic Church abuse

A new film exposing the ills of the Catholic Church has proved a surprise hit in Poland and become a target of the Right-wing government.

Kler (“Clergy”) has drawn 3 million viewers in just two weeks, becoming one of the country’s biggest box office successes.

The film has been praised for its handling of clerical child abuse, a major taboo in the deeply Catholic country.

But several cinemas have reportedly come under pressure to stop showing the film from those close to the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), who have attacked the film as “contemptuous and hateful to Polish identity”, and compared it to Nazi propaganda.

In Ostroleka, southeast Poland, the PiS president reportedly stepped in to stop the municipal cultural centre showing the film.

Both the president and the centre’s director declined to comment to The Telegraph, but the movie is not included in the October repertoire.

Łukasz Adamski, conservative film critic says that despite these “incidents”, the fact  that Kler was made and co-financed by a state-run institution, and now is widely discussed in Poland, is proof that there is “no censorship” in the country.

But it is not the first time the PiS, an ultra-Conservative populist party, has been accused of trying to assert its influence over Polish culture.

Five years ago, Ida, first Polish film to win the Oscar, which centers around a Catholic nun and her aunt, a former Stalinist prosecutor, was labeled by the Right as distorting the historical truth.

The party has long been signaling the need for Hollywood-like, morale-boosting movie that would promote heroic vision of Poland, though its attempts have so far been unsuccessful.

“Ideological pressure has always produced low artistic quality, so, not unexpectedly, there is very little support among talented artists for PiS cultural policy,” said Oscar-nominated director Agnieszka Holland, whose latest movie Spoor has also stoked outrage for its alleged anti-Christian message.

Instead, PiS has installed loyalists in state-funded museums and theatres, stirring up accusations of censorship and damage to artistic freedom.

The government came under attack last year after reports emerged of a “black list” of unwanted artists, a charge which PiS denied.

The success of Ida and Clergy proves, though, that “people want to discuss difficult topics even if the alliance of the PiS and church tries to make it impossible,” said Ms Holland.

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