Thanks to God / music box movies

"I never intended to make a film about pedophilia in the Church". Result: François Ozon did … a film about pedophilia in the Church. "Thanks to God" arrived on October 18 in the United States (dates and exit cities), a few months after its eventful release in France.

The film, which brings together Melvil Poupaud, Denis Ménochet and Swann Arlaud, tells the story of the fight of three victims to punish Father Preynat, a Lyonnais priest whom they accuse of having sexually abused them when they were Scouts in the 90s. silence of the Church, especially one of her most eminent figures, Cardinal Barbarin, they set up an association called The liberated Word.

Based on a true story, "Thank God" tells the torments of these faithful, the guilt or even the opposition of their entourage and their battle against the trauma of abuse. "Since I had done a lot of movies with important female roles, I wanted to talk about men explaining their feelings and feelings for once"Explains the director of" Young and Pretty "and" Eight women "in particular.

During his research, he discovers "by chance"The site of The Word Liberated and finds"the testimonies of these very strong and moving men". One of the victims, a father named Alexandre in the film (played by Melvil Poupaud), entrusts him with a "big folder"With all his correspondence with the Church and Cardinal Barbarin. "Do what you want, he told me".

To avoid arousing the suspicions of the Church, the director takes some precautions during filming. "To have peace, we shot under a false title. It has been said that it was the story of a friendship between three boys. We shot in Lyon and we did what we wanted". The trouble began when the trailer and the real name of the film, which evokes a quote from Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, were revealed – "the majority of the facts, thanks to God, are prescribed"- delivered at a press conference in 2016 on the Bernard Preynat affair.

With a planned theatrical release while the priest's trial had not yet taken place, the religious's lawyers tried in early 2019 to postpone his arrival on the big screens. But a judge gave them wrong, estimating in February that the maneuver would have the effect of postponing the release of the film to the Greek calends and would be likely to endanger it financially. Today, François Ozon says to himself "surprised"By this attempt to postpone. "Everything I tell in the film has already been revealed in the press and books. If I had made a documentary, I would not have a problem. But I realized that the power of fiction was scary "he says.

Still waiting for his trial, to be held in January 2020, Bernard Preynat was finally defrocked by the Church. Cardinal Barbarin, sentenced to six months of suspended imprisonment in March, resigned from Pope Francis, who refused. "Before making this film, I said that cinema could not change the world. There, I tell myself that we can change little things. Cinema has a strength, a power".

The US release comes in the context of freeing the voices of victims of sexual abuse on this side of the Atlantic. The current wave of revelations was launched by the publication in August 2018 of a shocking report on pedophile acts committed by priests on thousands of victims in Pennsylvania.

"I hope my film will have the same usefulness as in France, even if it's still complicated in the United States because the story is French-French and the film is subtitled", Observes François Ozon. This does not prevent the director from pleading to review "the status of the priest in our societies, where he is considered a saint, a disciple of God". "After the movie, I met many priests and bishops. I found myself facing old men above ground. I asked myself: how can a revolution take place with such old people? It would take a pope of 35 years!"


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