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Church slams Mullan’s film • Monday February 17, 2003

ITV (England), Feb. 16, 2003

The director of a controversial film about the cruelty inflicted by nuns has rejected criticism by the Catholic Church as “absurd and insulting”.

Speaking at the UK premiere of The Magdalene Sisters, Scottish director Peter Mullan said he believed the film would help victims of abuse.

The film, which tells the story of abuse suffered by young girls in Catholic-run laundries, has been praised by critics and won coveted awards at the Venice and Toronto film festivals.

But it has been criticised by the Catholic Church, which claimed the storyline is a fabrication.

Mullan himself has said the church should face up to its past and the cruelty inflicted by Irish nuns.

At the screening of the film at the UGC cinema in Glasgow, Mullan said: “It is absurd and insulting to Catholics throughout the world to suggest that making a film about Catholic victims, that this was an anti-Catholic film.

“I find that really offensive to the victims who are still practising Catholics.”

He added: “I think a film like this would help anybody who has been through any abuse, be it domestic, in the workplace, in school.

“A film like this is trying to show the lives of people who are oppressed and that there is a way out of it ultimately.”

Mullan, best known for his award-winning portrayal of a recovering alcoholic in Ken Loach’s My Name is Joe, hoped the film would not be traumatic for victims of abuse who were attending the premiere.

“I hope they will see it for what it is,” he said.

“It is just a drama, I don’t want anyone traumatised. I think the anger in the film is justified.”

Set in the 1960s, the film tells the story of one of the Magdalene laundries, which were run on behalf of the Catholic Church in Ireland. It centres around the plight of four women who are sent to the convent to correct their allegedly sinful behaviour.

They have to work under the strict supervision of the nuns, who break their wills through sadistic punishments.

One of its stars, Geraldine McEwan, who plays a strict nun running one of the Magdalene laundries, said she found the role “very interesting and challenging”.

She added: “When I first read the script I was really very shocked by her character.”

Stars of stage and screen, including Scots actors Douglas Henshall and Paul Young, attended this evening’s premiere.

Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman had also been due to attend but organisers were unsure whether he would be present.

The film is set to be released nationwide on February 21

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