Film festival at cathedral sparks controversy over choice of films featuring nudity, sex and paganism

Dean of the Derby Cathedral said that the building is 'for everybody' and that it needed to be able to serve a wide range of citizens in the city


                            Film festival at cathedral sparks controversy over choice of films featuring nudity, sex and paganism

An unusual debate has started on social media after a cathedral decided to screen films that have graphic sex scenes, full female nudity and also a Pagan sacrifice. Many church-goers believe that the screening of cult horror film 'The Wicker Man' and the thriller 'Don't Look Now' is inappropriate for the Derby Cathedral. Wardens from some of the other churches have called on the management of the cathedral to stop the screening.

Unfortunately for them, the Dean of the Derby Cathedral said that the building is "for everybody" and that it needed to be able to serve a wide range of citizens in the city. The Very Reverend Dr. Stephen Hance, the Dean of the cathedral, said: "The first thing we're trying to do is open the cathedral to new people."

He told BBC Radio Derby in an interview: "It doesn't just belong to the people who go to church; it certainly doesn't belong to me; it doesn't just belong to religious people. This is Derby's cathedral and it needs to serve the needs of the people of Derby, as wide a range of the people of Derby as we possibly can."



The 1973 film, 'The Wicker Man', revolves around a pious Catholic police officer who goes in search of a missing girl to an island where the locals are revealed to be practicing paganism. The film is infamous for having a scene in which the character played by Britt Ekland can be seen dancing in the nude. It also shows the character played by Edward Woodward burned to death inside a large wicker man.

The thriller 'Don't Look Now' is also from 1973 and has a graphic sex scene which had been cut out from the film by the BBC before they aired it on television. Over the many decades that have followed after its release, many keen-eyed viewers have suggested that both leading actors in the scene, Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, were actually having sexual intercourse even though Sutherland had denied this from the beginning.

A churchwarden from within the diocese of Derby, Steve Dunning, said: "I just think it isn't appropriate to show these films in a place of worship that is consecrated and hallowed, and therefore it compromises the spiritual integrity of the cathedral. There is also a broader issue in terms of why does the cathedral need to show films when there are multiplex cinemas in Derby?"

A deputy warden from another church, Kristin Simmons, said: "Derby Cathedral is a reflection of every parish church in Derbyshire. Of course, the cathedral can and should be open and used for outside events, but they should not be adverse to the Christian perspective; the cathedral is primarily a place of worship.

"One film depicts a human sacrifice of a Christian man who recites Psalm 23 and 'curses' people upon his death, and in the other, the protagonist is employed to restore a church building; it involves séances and communication with the dead and a very explicit sex scene. As someone else pointed out to me, Holy Communion will be celebrated nine hours later in the same seats." 



The films had been chosen by Dr. Alex Rock from the Quad cinema nearby. He is a member of the congregation at the Derby Cathedral. He said: "I have a really good relationship with Derby Cathedral and care about it a lot, and I thought this was a really good opportunity to stimulate discussion around the space itself and to kind of experience the space in a completely different light."

Dr. Rock described the two films as "some of the greatest examples of British cinema that have ever been made". He added: "This programme is designed to celebrate the heritage of British cinema in a fantastic heritage space."

The two films are a part of a film screening called Quad in Residence at Derby Cathedral which is scheduled to take place on September 7. Other films in the screening include 'Monty Python's Life of Brian' and 'Sister Act'.