Moscow, September 21, 2021
Benedetta, co-written and directed by Paul Verhoeven, is loosely based on the 1986 book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy, about Benedetta Carlini (1591-1661), a Catholic abbess and mystic who was found guilty of having relations with one of her nuns and stripped of her rank and imprisoned.
The film is entitled Temptation in Russian.
“There is a scene of provocative content in the film, which is regarded as a violation of the legislation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and religious associations,” Assistant to the Minister of Culture Anna Usacheva explained to gazeta.ru.
The Ministry did not specify to which scene it was referring, but critics of the film note that there are several with nudity and eroticism.
According to dw.com, the head of the Orthodox Forty Forties Movement (referring to the saying that there were 40x40 churches in Moscow before the Bolshevik revolution) Andrei Kormukhin had filed a complaint about the film.
“This film doesn’t correspond to the concept of spiritual and moral values on the territory of the state of Russia, so it naturally shouldn’t be shown. We are not engaged in showing pornography, right? This film is about the same thing,” he said.
Vakhtang Kipshidze, Deputy Chairman of the Synodal Department of the Moscow Patriarchate for Church Relations with Society and the Media, agreed, noting that according to the description of the film, several scenes are essentially pornographic, and the distribution of pornography is prohibited in Russia.
State Parliamentary Deputy Vitaly Milonov commented: “The film is a mockery. For the West, this is the norm. In Russia, this is not allowed, because people have a different attitude to sacred things.”
The film was earlier nominated for the highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
The ban on the film was published on the site of the Ministry of Culture on Friday. It was set to premier in Russia on October 7.