Patriarchate spokesman walks back statement about controversial movie


Interfax-Religiia, 25 July 2017


The press secretary of Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill, priest Alexander Volkov, stated that his words about the motion picture "Matilda" are not the position of the church and he offered an apology to those whom they offended.


In an interview on Monday with the RT television channel, Father Alexander stated that Aleksei Uchitel's film "is not a caricature and deliberate distortion of the image of a holy man," Tsar Nicholas II, while acknowledging however that the picture has evoked an ambiguous reaction. These words became the occasion for reproaches against the church on the part of representatives of the Orthodox public.


"With regard to my RT interview in which, in particular, I talked about the film 'Matilda,' it should once again be emphasized that the opinion expressed was my personal judgment regarding this film and is in no way connected with the official position of the church and His Holiness the patriarch. I offer my apologies to those whom it caused embarrassment or confusion," the priest wrote on his page on Facebook. (tr. by PDS, posted 26 July 2017)



Reasons why the RPTs decided not to give assessment of film "Matilda", 24 July 2017


On Monday there appeared the latest news about director Aleksei Uchitel's film "Matilda": the RPTs is refraining from comments, the prosecutor's office is threatening to start a case against those who are threatening to set fire to movie theaters, and Deputy Poklonskaya is sending boxes with signatures of opponents of the film.


Words of a priest and words of a prosecutor


"The church should not give an evaluation to cultural phenomena," declared the press secretary of Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill, priest Alexander Volkov, commenting on the situation regarding the motion picture "Matilda" of director Aleksei Uchitel.


"It is important that an evaluation of this file, like any other production of culture, such not come from the church, from the pulpit," RT quotes the spokesman of the patriarchate. It is necessary to categorically avoid a priest standing at the pulpit and saying in a sermon: well this is a good production and this it a bad one; one should not attend this film but go there to set fire to the theater."


At the same time, speaking of the picture itself Volkov noted that it may hit a raw nerve of very many people. "That is a reaction that is; it is something that is rather natural. Obviously the film will evoke an ambiguous reaction and will not pass by unnoticed, including from a negative point of view," he said.


The statement by a representative of the RPTs regarding Aleksei Uchitel's film, even before its release, has become an object of exaggerated attention of the conservative public and appears to be more liberal than previous statements of the church about the film. Thus, previously the hegumen of the Presentation monastery, Bishop Tikhon, in an interview with Rossiiskaia Gazeta, said that the church's task with respect to the film "is not to demand prohibitions but to warn about truth and falsehood." At the same time, Bishop Tikhon thinks that if the film will artistically rethink real historical events, then it should declare itself to be an historical "fantasy."


It is possible that the new statements are connected with the activity of law enforcement (or more precisely oversight) bodies with respect to the film and the campaign unleashed against it. Thus, yesterday it was learned that the prosecutor's office of Moscow sent to investigators of the capital Chief Directorate of the MVD materials and a recommendation for resolving the question of criminal prosecution based on the results of a prosecutor's examination of actions of members of the public organization "Christian State—Sacred Rus."


As RNS recalls, several months ago letters were sent in the name of this organization to several hundred movie theaters and film circulation companies with a threat to set fire to theaters in the even they did not refuse to circulate the film. In all likelihood, the inspection was conducted on the basis of a statement by Aleksei Uchitel and his lawyers in connection with threats that came to the creators of the film.


The oversight agency established that in the actions of the leadership of the organization "Christian State—Sacred Rus" there are signs of a crime under part 1 of article 179 of the Criminal Code of Russia (coercion to refuse to perform and action under threat of the use of force or destruction or damage to someone else' property).


The closed showing that wasn't


It was learned earlier that in June there was a closed showing of "Matilda," which, according to some reports, was attended by State Duma Speaker Viacheslav Volodin and the chairman of the Public Council under the Ministry of Culture, Pavel Pozhigailo. The latter supposedly urged the director to make several changes in both the trailer of the film and the picture itself.  To be sure, the director himself in conversation with Gazeta.Ru denied this report, saying that he considers as "ridiculous" the suggestion that the chairman of a public structure under a federal ministry can recommend change to a movie director.


In an interview with TASS, Aleksei Uchitel decribed how Pavel Pozhigailo "was at the viewing, spoke words of praise, and did not suggest any changes."


Poklonskaya and the boxes


Meanwhile, late last week the initiator of a campaign against the film, State Duma Deputy Natalia Poklonskaya collected signatures from 37 deputies and also more than 100 thousand appeals against the Director Aleksei Uchitel's film "Matilda." She said that an inquiry about taking measures "within the limits of competence" was sent to the ministry of culture, prosecutor general, and also the minister of internal affairs. To the inquiry and citizens' signatures was appended a report of the Accounts Chamber of the RF about the fact that the state allocated 280 million rubles for creating the picture. In an addition to the inquiry Poklonskaya send signatures and appeals of the same hundred thousand citizens "about offense to their feelings."


Actually, it was this addition that it was difficult to get into 13 boxes, Poklonskaya explained.


The inquiry contains a request to take necessary measures and prevent "offenses to the religious feelings of believers and desecration of Orthodox sacred items by the plot line of the film." She and her associates consider to be offensive the suggestion of a romance of Nicholas II with Matilda Kshesinskaya after the marriage of the Russian emperor to Alexandra Fedorovna and also the fact that in the film the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna is depicted as a devotee of occultism.


In addition, Poklonskaya herself rejected the performance of the leading role by a German actor, Lars Eidinger, whom the deputy frequently called a porn star (apparently for his role in Peter Greenaway's film "Goltzius and the Pelican Company" in which he performed naked). (tr. by PDS, posted 27 July 2017)


Russia Religion News Current News Items

Editorial disclaimer: RRN does not intend to certify the accuracy of information presented in articles. RRN simply intends to certify the accuracy of the English translation of the contents of the articles as they appeared in news media of countries of the former USSR.

If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from which it came. It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted electronically, please include reference to the URL,