It should not be as big a leap of faith to predict success on the new film from François Ozon, who has for hero the activists of the association “free speech” who fought at the beginning in a silence almost general, to denounce the crimes of paedophiles of the abbot Preynat to Lyon. “Thanks to God “, a title that takes up the wondrous words of cardinal Barbarin in the press conference (” Thanks be to God, the facts are prescribed “), is announced for a national release in two days, Wednesday, February 20. It has already been the subject of lengthy papers in the press, several projections have been organised, notably in Paris and Lyons, in particular for the parishioners of the church of Saint-Luc in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon where the incident occurred, and it is supported by an active advertising campaign. The criticism is unanimous in celebration of this artistic work. By reason of : well-built and well-played, the movie is good, just, subtle, not black and white. Ozon has just awarded the Berlin film Festival’s Jury prize, the film festival the most important with Cannes and Venice – and he will, without a doubt in other festivals. This is justice.
But not for everyone. Because this film was the subject of two actions in summary proceedings, one in Paris, another in Lyon, not to prohibit, but to see the output after changes to the content. Innovation, in this case, is not only in the writing of the work, but also in the questioning legal product. Because the director, if he has changed the names of the victims or call them by their first names, has not chosen the same treatment for those who are accused. Which appear under their true identity, but in the skin of the actors, which incidentally is excellent. Process surprising, and to our knowledge unprecedented.
also Read “The pedophilia of the father Preynat, a kind of family secret”
This film is not a documentary, it remains – stricto sensu – a work of fiction, but that is based on real facts, and seems to be built by carefully following the legal case (leaning more side-victims). François Ozon blurs the tracks. It shows the torments of cardinal Barbarin, wavering between victim assistance and the protection of the institution, and goes into the psychology of the abbot Preynat, depicting more as a patient than as a criminal. But both appear under their real names. After all, the facts are known and Preynat confessed to these crimes, asking for the forgiveness of the one-hundred – yes, you read that right ! – of the children he abused. Preynat is regarded as a monster, including himself. As to cardinal Barbarin, he has covered these acts, after having been minimized, what does it matter that he repented and that he has already been condemned by the vox populi. Yes, but the two men have not been judged by… justice. The trial Preynat is not yet fixed, and the decision in the case of Barbarin will be made on 7 march – the prosecutor before the criminal court of Lyon did not require condemnation against the archbishop and five of its former employees, because of the facts that, before 2013, “prescribed” and that “the offence is not constituted” for those after 2013.
Presumption of innocence
cardinal Barbarin has not been to court on the film Ozon. But the abbot Preynat, yes. As well as Roberta Mayor, psychologist volunteer of the diocese of Lyon, which does not appear, it not more, under his real name in this movie. We can understand : that will tell his children and grand-children if they see their grand-mother, who was only a cog in the institution, in the past, and to posterity, in this role, in a film unanimously praised ? In The Point, in the face of our critical cinema Florence Colombani inquiring about the maintenance of the names of the three protagonists of the diocese of Lyon, François Ozon responds : “All this I tell on them and everything they say in the film comes from verbatim that have been published in the press, in books or used in documentaries. I would have found it terribly hypocritical to rename Barbarin “sweet talk” or speak of the father “Freynat”. Many assume the real names. Then, of course, lawyers have read it. “After the delivery of his prize at the Berlin film Festival, the director invokes the freedom of creation and asserts that if the judges were to see the output, it would be” a kind of censorship.”
also Read Pedophilia : Barbarin to the bar, “the trial of a system”
justice was finally decided, under strong pressure art and media. The magistrates of Paris and then Lyon have decided to allow the release of the film. You can imagine the outcry if the magistrates had come to see a film that is already widely in the public square. Regardless of their decisions, and the quality – excellent, mind you- of the work, we can understand that the case raises a discomfort. Is there any need to recall some basic, some evidences ? Our society, our system, our rule of law are based, admittedly, on the freedom of creation – which remains wide-currently in France, in spite of what one sometimes hears, but also on the principle of the presumption of innocence. This principle continues as long as justice has not passed – and even after, if the person is found innocent. And this principle, cement of our democratic functioning, applies to everyone. Including the ” monsters “.
also Read Pedophilia : “The Church does not attack the roots of the scandal”
Consult our folder : The catholic Church in turmoil
On the same subject, “by the Grace of God”: the film Ozon come out well on Wednesday