French chain nixes ‘Bad’ trailer

Subject of priests' homosexuality causes complaint

PARIS — EuroPalaces, France’s leading cinema chain, has instituted a nationwide ban on the trailer for Pedro Almodovar’s Cannes Film Festival opener “Bad Education” on its screens showing Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

The move, condemned by a French human rights organization, follows complaints by the Brotherhood of Saint Pius X about the pic’s hot-button subject matter — homosexuality among priests.

Europalaces initially pulled the trailer for “Bad Education” in the southern French town of Montpellier, where the complaint originated, before extending the ban to some 50-odd screens last week. However, the trailer still can be seen on other EuroPalaces screens — it has 646 up and down the country.

Ironically, Pathe, the majority shareholder in EuroPalaces, is distributing “Bad Education” in France.

The company has made no public comment on its decision, nor has Almodovar’s El Deseo production company, but the French Human Rights League slammed it as “censorship.”

The Brotherhood of Saint Pius X, a fundamental Catholic group, is no stranger to the French film biz, which it has taken on several times. It failed two years ago to get a court to ban a publicity poster for Costa-Gavras’ “Amen,” which it had claimed was offensive to Christians.

A spokesman for the National Federation of Exhibitors played down the affair Friday.

“The trailer makes only a very subtle allusion to homosexuality, so the complaint seems a bit unnecessary, but the ban on 50-odd screens won’t make much of a difference to ‘Bad Education’s’ publicity,” he said.

The subtlety of the trailer merely reflects “Bad Education” as a whole. Pic caused something of a initial stir when released in Spain in March because of early suggestions in the film of a Catholic priest’s pederast relationship with a student.

But, as Almodovar insists, the film soon takes another tack, developing into the tale of star-crossed love between the student and a fellow schoolmate whose paths cross again when they become adults in 1980.

(John Hopewell in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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