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The Passion of The Christ - France enters fray as independent chain refuses to show film



Story by: Jack Foley

FRANCE has joined the debate surrounding Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, now that one of the country’s leading independent cinema groups has refused to programme it.

MK2 president, Marin Karmitz, told the Hollywood Reporter, in a written statement, that Passion ‘is a film of fascist propaganda’, which he did not intend to show on any of the 58 screens, in ten cinemas, he controls as part of Paris’ art-house circuit.

The Passion of the Christ is due to be released in France on March 31, by Quinta Distribution, the new firm of Franco-Tunisian producer, Tarak Ben Ammar, but its Paris office declined to comment on Karmitz's view of the film.

Karmitz, who is also president of the French Federation of Distributors, went on to accuse Gibson's movie of turning ‘violence and barbarity into a spectacle’, adding: "For two hours, you see a man being tortured, nothing else."

And he believes the film is revisionist in its portrayal of history, as well as anti-Semitic, ‘given the representation of the Jews’.

On this last point, however, he believes that Jewish lobbies, in America, made a mistake ‘by basing the debate solely on this point’.

All other distributors in France have, apparently, shown strong interest in the film, which is set to open with about 480 prints, but while Karmitz remains unimpressed by it, he has no problem with its general release in the country, believing it to be a welcome opportunity to air the debate it provokes.

And as coverage builds, in France, ahead of the release date, Roman Catholic Church leaders, who attended a special screening, are believed to have found it ‘a challenge’.

Jewish representatives are due to screen it during the course of this week, at various private sessions organized by Quinta.

France is the latest country to express reservations about the arrival of the film, following on from Germany, where Jewish leaders accused it of being dangerous.

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