The Catholic Church in Italy has effectively banned Andrew Haigh’s award winning film Weekend after it decreed that it could not be screened in any of the movie theaters it owns across the country.
The film is being released in Italy five years after its 2011 debut on the back of Haigh’s success with the film 45 Years which received an Oscar nomination for Charlotte Rampling’s performance in the film.
Italy’s official film censors gave Weekend a 14+ rating. However the Catholic Church owns more than 1,100 cinemas across Italy – effectively giving the Italian Conference of Bishops’ Film Evaluation Commission power over what films people can and can’t see in the country.
The Italian Conference of Bishops’ Film Evaluation Commission gave its own rating to Weekend and classified it as ‘not advised, unusable and scabrous (indecent or salacious).’
The commission’s classification also listed the films principle themes as drug use and homosexuality rather than romance.
The decision has been a disaster for the film’s Italian distributor Teodora Film.
‘They decided it was unacceptable, that it should be censored and they have used their power to paralyze the distribution,’ Teodora Film president Cesare Petrillo told AFP.
‘Normally a film like this would have been picked up by many of these cinemas. Instead there are whole regions and big cities like Florence, Bergamo and Padova where we have not been able to get it put on. And the only reason for that is that the main characters are gay.
‘For me, Weekend has nothing scandalous about it – it is a story about love.’
As a result only ten independent cinemas will be screening the film.
The Catholic Church allowed the screening of the Oscar nominated film The Danish Girl earlier this year but only with the warning to audiences that it dealt with ‘complex’ issues that should be viewed in the context of a societal debate.