10/30/2017, 10.09
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Moscow, the art of the movie 'Matilda' and public morality

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The film depicts the love affair between Tsar Nicola II and a ballerina. Screenings take place under armed guard. The Interreligious Council: No to coercion, but true culture contains a moral ideal. Patriarch Kirill’s disillusionment: A miracle if religions grow despite television and internet culture. Minister of Culture accused of plagiarism.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Screenings of the high controversial film "Matilda" by director Aleksej Uchitel have begun in Russia. It depicts the love story between young Nicola II and ballet dancer Matilda Kseshinskaja, favored by the court of the last Romanov and has already sparked heated reactions. These include public protests and sabotage attempts, police protection of screenings and representatives of religious institutions have also decided on the subject.

Thus on October 24 in Moscow, on the eve of the first film, the Interreligious Council of Russia met with the representatives of the "traditional" religions of Russia from the Orthodox Patriarch, along with Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and Christians of other confessions. The subject of the meeting did not directly refer to the "sacrilegious" film, but generally concerned freedom of expression with regard to public morality.

According to members of the Interreligious Council, the creativity of artists must be limited by the demands of morality and respect for the rights of other people, and above all with respect to the worldview of religious groups and communities. The Council invited professionals from the world of art and culture to be more responsible, taking into account the influence that artistic productions can have on the human mind and on the spiritual condition of society as a whole.

The leaders of Russia's religions say that "works of art are intentionally used to humiliate human dignity through the overturning of facts and the defamation of crucial figures in national history, and this cannot be justified". It breeds contempt of sacred things and the propaganda of immorality, offending religious and national values, as in the film in question, becoming the symbol of any form of "destructive" art to counteract and censor.

However, the Council does not propose to return to forms of cultural repression, typical of Tsarist Russia or the Soviet regime: "The state cannot intervene in the field of culture with coercion; it must rather support those artistic initiatives that help to strengthen social cohesion and harmony among religions. " "True culture" - according to Russian religious leaders - "contains a moral ideal that arouses the desire for truth and good in the human soul, and increases the love for one's neighbor and others."

The meeting took place in a very significant place: the Moscow Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center. Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev), contemplating the starlit ceiling representing the victims of the Holocaust, wanted to comment with the attendants about recent events regarding Uchitel's film. "Looking at what is happening around the passions generated by the well-known film," observed Rabbi Adolf Shaevich, "it seems to me that there is too much fanaticism on the part of people who want to look holier than the Patriarch himself. I admire the patience and tolerance of the Orthodox Church in this respect. "

Kirill, in response to the rabbi, did not want to refer directly to the question of the movie "Matilda", remembering that "I rarely watch television, but when I do flick through the channels, I am afflicted by anxiety. On the first channel there are  movies of violence and crime, on the second the same, and so on the third and all the others ... it's all a propaganda of crime, the frenzy of senses, of a wild lifestyle that overturns the spectator. Then there is the Internet ... if we think of the ability of our religions to influence everything that television and other media today show, we should build a monument to the fact that, despite today’s total freedom, religions are still growing and strengthen. "

Discussion on the freedom and the social utility of art and culture has become even more complicated in recent weeks, also with reference to the clamorous approval of the doctoral thesis of the Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinskij, on objectivity in patrimonial history. The thesis, rejected by the College of Experts of the Academy of Sciences for the wide presence of plagiarism and internal contradictions, was, however, surprisingly welcomed by the academy's leadership, which emphasized its importance in guiding consciences to welcome national history appropriately, stirring up protests throughout the academic world. Through the lens of past history, Russia seeks to reconstruct its future identity, which is still very uncertain.

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