PARIS — Alain Goldman quit the French Union of Film Producers (UPF) after the org issued a press release supporting the distribution of “The Passion of the Christ.”
A day after pic bowed in Gaul on March 31, the UPF issued a statement in “support of Tarak Ben Ammar, who has affirmed his attachment to the freedom of expression and to the free circulation of artistic works in making the public the only judge of Mel Gibson’s direction.”
The statement was itself a response to critics of the film, such as Marin Karmitz, head of Gallic mini-major MK2, who refused to show “The Passion” on his circuit. Karmitz called the film anti-Semitic and an instrument of fascist propaganda.
“The communique supposed that the film’s freedom of expression was in danger, which was certainly not the case because it opened on 500 screens and without any kind of violence,” Goldman told Daily Variety.
Goldman, who produced such films as Gallic hit “Crimson Rivers” as well as “Crimson Rivers 2” and “Vatel,” said that it was to Karmitz’s honor to refuse a film that he knew would be a success on the basis of his conscience. “I am in total agreement with Marin Karmitz. He was absolutely right.”
Pic has grossed more than $7.2 million since its release, despite the polemic and negative reviews from critics here.
“The statement was in support of the freedom of expression, and the president of the UPF has received a lot of support for his statement,” said Marie-Paule Biosse-Duplan, general delegate of UPF.
But Goldman said that the subject had nothing to do with the members of the UPF, and that the union had stepped over the line.
“The goal of the union is to represent the interests of its members. This was about an American film, which is not produced by a member. And it isn’t a film like ‘American Pie,’ it’s a film that brings up controversial questions of faith,” he said. “I gave UPF the right to express my interests not my thoughts, and they crossed the line.”
“The Passion” also has created controversy in Gaul among French religious groups, Jewish and Christian. The council representing Jewish institutions in France denounced the film, calling it “extremely violent and unhealthy,” while French bishops called it “problematic” and took issue with its violence.
“I respect Mel Gibson,” Goldman said. “But too many Jewish people have suffered because of the reasoning that they killed Christ.”