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The anti-clerical film that has shocked Poland

The anti-clerical film that has shocked Poland

Plus, the Chinese TV show designed to sell the Belt and Road Initiative to children

Plus, the Chinese TV show designed to sell the Belt and Road Initiative to children

December/January 2019

Clerical errors
“Priests are not saints,” concludes “Kler” (“The Clergy”, above), a film, inspired by real life, about three priests from a small town whose lives are fuelled by vodka, sex and money. One tells his pregnant lover to get an abortion. Another resorts to underhand tactics as he plots a move to the Vatican. A third is accused of paedophilia. In Poland, where the Roman Catholic church remains a force, this depiction has shocked many. Yet millions of Poles have been to see “Kler”, making it one of the country’s ten most-watched films since 1989. This has raised questions about the role of the church, its links to Polish politics and its complicity in sexual abuse. Since its release, a victims’ foundation has published an online “map of church paedophilia”, listing hundreds of allegations of abuse.

Silk screening
Most children would glaze over if China’s Belt and Road Initiative were explained to them. So Chinese state media has made an animated TV show to “subtly” spread the message. Each episode of “Legend of the Silk Road” follows a little boy and his big brother as they travel back in time to meet the heroes of the ancient Silk Road. The show is said to draw up to 13m viewers every weekday evening. Planned translations into English and Arabic will spread the word farther afield.

Rajoy’s reckoning
The durability of Mariano Rajoy, former prime minister of Spain, was legendary. But he was finally undone last June after the party he headed was found to have benefited from the Gürtel case, one of Spain’s biggest corruption scandals. “El Reino” (“The Kingdom”), loosely based on these events, is a pacy thriller in which a crooked politician is sacrificed to preserve the system. He refuses to go quietly, and the fallout shows that the rot goes right to the top. In real life, the Gürtel affair sent 29 people to prison and brought down a government.

Best medicine
Australia’s treatment of its First Nation peoples has historically been shameful, so it is a surprising subject for a new sketch show, “Black Comedy”. The first series written and performed by indigenous artists, “Black Comedy” satirises black culture, white liberals and race relations in skits. In one of these, an Aboriginal girl suffering from cancer is offered one last wish by a children’s charity. When she asks to have her people’s land returned, the white charity workers look aghast.