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Cinema-buff dean feels the heat at Derby Cathedral

24 August 2018


Closing scene from The Wicker Man

Closing scene from The Wicker Man

DERBY Cathedral has defended its decision to show horror films that contained nudity at a film festival after attracting criticism for the move.

The Dean of Derby, the Very Revd Stephen Hance, said that they would not be “showing God anything that he hasn’t seen before”.

The Wicker Man, which Dean Hance called “a bit of a classic”, and Don’t Look Now will be shown in the cathedral as part of a festival organised with QUAD, a local art-house cinema, which begins on 7 September.

Speaking on Tuesday, Dean Hance argued: “If something is not sinful anywhere it is not sinful in the cathedral.”

Critics have said that it is inappropriate to show such films at the cathedral because of their content. The Wicker Man, a 1973 cult film, shows a pagan sacrifice, while Don’t Look Now, released in the same year, features graphic sex scenes.

Dean Hance said: “The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now are both 15-certificate films, and are reason­ably mild by today’s standards.

“My critics want to argue that there is something about the show­ing of The Wicker Man on a Friday night that will impact them on a Sunday, but it won’t.”

He argued that the venture would bring new people to the cathedral, and that it would not detract from its being a holy place.

“I think it will be a success in terms of attracting people and bringing them to see a creative bit of art, and doing that in the context of this beautiful holy space.”

He revealed that he had over­ruled the inclusion of one film for the festival when it was being planned, but would not be drawn on what this was.

Earlier this month, Portsmouth Cathedral was embroiled in a row over painted nudes hung in the cathedral (News, 10 August). Four paintings by Joe Greenwood were removed from an exhibition as a result.

Dean Hance said: “I’m not going to be critical of Portsmouth Cathedral. When you walk round the Renaissance art at the National Gallery, you will find a great deal of nudity there.

“I suppose the difference is that Portsmouth Cathedral was concerned that people would be distracted when they came to worship. It is a different event here in Derby: on a Friday night, well away from worship.”

Dr Alex Rock, who is organising the festival, is a member of the cathedral congregation. He said: “This programme is designed to celebrate the heritage of British cinema in a fantastic heritage space.”

Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the comedy musical Sister Act will also be shown in the cathedral during the festival.

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