The Western Catholic Church strictly forbids love between priests and women, especially in Italy, the home of the Holy See, where the clergymen must follow the rule of chastity.
The vow of celibacy is not always kept, though, and this gives often rise to forbidden love affairs and secret relationships. Having to decide on abandoning either their woman or priesthood, some priests choose their lover’s love, acknowledging its pivotal importance in their life, whereas other priests feel they are not ready to give up their religious vocation. Indeed, they are willing to conceal their sexual life and love affairs in order not to interrupt their ecclesiastical career.
Forbidden Men (Uomini Proibiti) is a documentary film that deals with the stories of some married priests who renounce their ecclesiastical privileges to start a family.
Forbidden Men (Uomini Proibiti) deals also with the stories of those women who fall in love with priests who are unwilling to give up their religious position. A life of privation, silence and secrecy awaits them and their love.
The stories the film is run through deal with love, an unrepeatable and unobtainable blessing… supreme and worldly at the same time. Moreover, they are stories of unbearable woe, exhausting uncertainty, vain inconclusiveness
The documentary film explores the ulterior motives of these stories that develop in the shadow of the Church. The latter has always fiercely rejected petitions calling the abolition of ecclesiastical celibacy until the installation of Pope Francis, who appears to foreshadow the chance of a possible opening on part of the Church as far as this issue is concerned. Nevertheless, nothing has changed since the Second Vatican Council.
As a matter of fact, associations of priests, priests’ partners and, recently, priests’ children have been founded all over the world (Brazil, Canada, Germany, France, Austria, Great Britain) for this reason. Not only are they alerting the Holy See to human rights, but they are addressing the United Nations (UNO) too, their aim being to obtain the right for priests to get married , start a family, have children and to pursue their career as priests, bishops and nuns.
The main characters of Forbidden Men (Uomini Proibiti) are very close to the above-mentioned associations and they support the International Movement for Reforms and Freedom, whose members are not only clergymen, but also laymen or people who frequent parishes as simple parishioners.
“ A few years ago, I was sitting on a park bench when my eyes came across the look of a young and handsome friar. I had never thought of a priest as an “ordinary man”, endowed with emotions and feelings... I had always imagined a priest as a God servant.”
“ I started wondering how could one keep passion and faith separated for the whole course of their life”
“ I am convinced that the spiritual power enters unwittingly the bedroom of a number of couples who live in Italy, affecting the spontaneity of single gestures.”
“ One day I came across some paintings and works of art featuring religious subjects, although they showed erotic scenes and exposed the details of male genitals...
I was struck by the oddity of this circumstance, as it nestled in the meanders of my mind, somewhat being influential on me: I began to think back to all the Catholic she-friends of mine who reported to have some problems with sexuality. At this point, the two facts (my friends’ revelations and my historical and artistic discoveries)matched and I understood the radical repulsion that tear some people’s heart concerning a mindset which demonizes pleasure, eschewing it and preferring sacrifice, considering pleasure as something detrimental, deleterious.”
It is important and necessary to film “Forbidden Men” today as this is a time of heated debates as well as a time of meaningful changes in the bosom of the Western Catholic Church.
The proclamation of Pope Francis foreshadows a significant opportunity for the will to overcome some of the limits of the Catholic tradition, in respect of celibacy too.
The attempt to report the historical period the Church is going through and to document the decisive moments that lead to choices concerning celibacy, family, illegitimate priests’ children and secret partners, forced to live as outcasts with no place in the social ladder, has a great value.
This is also due to the originality of the subject and the fact that this story has never been the subject of any other documentary until now. Besides, an unprecedented point of view of the characters is adopted to deal with a current topic and universal ethical values that arise as the film goes on.
The film is conceived to take into consideration the predominant culture benchmarks without overlooking those underground cultures which are unable to make history. Indeed, they will be voiced together with the “silent actors” of society, who are historically important: the secret priests’ partners, the married priests and the children who have not been recognized all represent living human resources that Catholic doctrinal teachings, reaching inexorably our houses, should consider.
When the Church and sexuality are dealt with in a debate, it is commonplace to end up discussing gay marriage, pedophilia and contraceptives. No one ever wonders neither what the priests’ sentimental side is like (they are also spiritual guides who help the faithful approaching life) nor what psychological and relational consequences celibacy might lead to.
Forbidden Men is the first creative documentary dealing with ecclesiastical celibacy, and it will be filmed by a woman author who was born and raised in Italy (a country where the Church is highly influential), proposing an international issue also in the light of a fresh outlook concerning countries that are far away from Rome.
It is for this reason that they can handle Catholic rules with a different degree of autonomy. Comparing different view - points (the one of people who live in Italy and the one of people who hold Catholic religious offices away from the Vatican City State: France, Germany, Holland, Austria, etc...) it will be possible to frame a complete and heterogeneous general picture of the ecclesiastical universe, including its relation with worldly love, sexuality and family.
As a matter of fact, more tolerant attitudes have been observed in the context of other European national churches compared to the strictness of the Curia Romana. Consequently, comparing and contrasting various European context is fundamental.
ANGELITA FIORE director
Angelita Fiore has a PhD in Theatre Studies and Film at the Department of Music and Performing Arts, University of Bologna (DAMS). Since 2005 she collaborates with some Italian production companies as a freelance filmmaker. She works as a film critic and her essays have been published in many books and magazines. For many years she has been collaborating with some Italian Documentary Festival as artistic director, selector and in festival jury. The subaltern point of view is a key element of her work which allows her to give voice to those who usually cannot write the story. Some of her works are: Life in Art Art in Life, Mutatis Mutandis, Il nodo di Sylvie, Not 1 Reason.
Roberta Barboni, graduated at Bologna University, is an independent producer of documentaries. She works as Italian fixer and producer for international production companies, Italian films and TV productions. She started in 1987 in Bologna where she founded in 1988 a service agency, “Wonder Film”, specialized in scouting location, cast and organization, developing a significant professional experience in movie and documentary production. Presently she works as a freelance coordinator and executive producer for national and international documentaries. Some of her works are: History of food, Gruppe 5 Film 2014, Gallery Mast for Mia Art 2014, Mast. Arts, experience, and technology, 2013, Ken Follett’s journey during the Dark Ages, Story House Production, 2012, Superstructures II, Gruppe 5 Film, 2012, Water show Bella Italia, Walter Korth Production, 2012, The Charterhouse of Parma, 11 Marzo Film Production, RAI 2011.
ROBERTA BARBONI producer
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Maxman Coop is a cooperative society of authors, directors and independent producers established in 1993 in Fermo (Marche Region). In 1998 it sets up a subsidiary company in Bologna which produces and develops high quality and original creative documentaries, thanks to the experience of its production and creative team working as a service and executive producer for several major national film studios and producing commercials, short films and documentaries. In 2012 Maxman received the National Prize for Culture and Civil Enterprise Paolo Volponi “as a virtuous example of great artistic and professional skills in the field of Italian Cinema". Latest filmography: La neve near – Luigi Di Ruscio a Oslo, un italiano all’inferno (Black snow), by Paolo Marzoni and Angelo Ferracuti, (63') 2014, Altrimenti io parlo (I Talk Otherwise), by Cristian Cappucci, (117') 2014, Anna bello sguardo (Anna beautiful look), by Vito Palmieri in memory of Lucio Dalla, (15’) 2013, Matilde, by Vito Palmieri, (10’) 2012, official selection at Generation Berlinale 2013.
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