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Sunday, February 29, 2004

French cinemas refuse to screen Mel's movie

Distributors waiting to gauge its reception elsewhere in Europe
JPost: French cinema chains are refusing to distribute or screen Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of the Christ because of fears that it will spark a new outbreak of anti-Semitism.

France is the only European country where there is still no distribution deal for the film, which depicts the last days of Jesus Christ in graphic detail and is accused by critics of stoking anti-Jewish sentiment.

The film was released in America last week, but French distributors are wary of its impact on audiences and want to gauge its reception elsewhere in Europe, where it is due to open next month.

"We don't want to be on the side of those who support such anti-Semitism," a veteran film industry figure said. "When we distributed It's a Beautiful Life by Benigni, we were worried about the risk of making a comedy about the Holocaust, but that was different. There's enough anti-Semitic stuff circulating here already without us throwing oil on the fire."