Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hand of God Screening

Director to offer free screening of ‘Hand of God’ in McAllen on Feb. 18



HARLINGEN — In a special appearance, “Hand of God” will finally reach the Rio Grande Valley in February.

Director Joe Cultrera will bring his award-winning film, “Hand of God,” to McAllen for a free screening Feb. 18 at the Cine El Rey.

The documentary on the child molestation scandal in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston caused local controversy when KMBH, the local Public Broadcasting System affiliate, refused to air it at in the usual “Frontline” prime-time slot on Jan. 16.

The film is based on the abuse Cultrera’s brother, Paul Cultrera, suffered at the hands of a Catholic priest in the 1960s and how it still affects the family to this day. “Hand of God” also chronicles how the Archdiocese of Boston tried to sweep this and similar cases under the rug.

“I think it’s important to see that these things can be survived,” Cultrera said.

Cultrera will be available for questions following the 4:30 p.m. showing.

The event is being sponsored by Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley, the local chapter of a national organization seeking accountability, financial and otherwise, in the Roman Catholic Church.

Gerald Brazier, a member of CTAnRGV, said it’s important to present “Hand of God” in such a predominantly Catholic area.

“Stories of clergy sex abuse are very important to be told,” Brazier said. “That story needs to get out so that the church can face up to their responsibilities in trying to help the victims.”

Brazier said documentaries such as “Hand of God” help others understand what happened to victims of such abuse and also may help those victims find some sort of closure.

“Since the Valley didn’t get a chance to see this film when it first aired, we thought we would provide this opportunity,” Brazier said.

Only 450 seats will be available at the free screening, Brazier said.

Speaking from his office in New York City, Cultrera said he would show the version of “Hand of God” that was screened at more than a dozen film festivals in 2006. It won awards at four of those festivals.

The festival cut of “Hand of God” is 12 minutes longer than the version shown Jan. 16 by “Frontline” on almost all the other PBS affiliates nationwide. Cultrera said the movie had to be cut to fit within the TV series’ time constraints.

KMBH chose on Jan. 16 to air an old “Frontline” episode about the Taliban during the series’ usual prime time slot.

KMBH, owned and operated by the non-profit RGV Educational Broadcasting, Inc., was founded under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville and receives a major portion of its funding from the diocese. Bishop Raymundo Peña appointed the station’s president and CEO, Monsignor Pedro Briseño, as well as its board of directors.

1 comment:

Kanickers said...

Yet another letter in the Valley Morning Star today:

KMBH fails to live up to its mission


I applaud Joe and Rosa Perez for taking a stand against KMBH's refusal to air "Hand of God." Their program, "North of the Border," will be sorely missed, but I admire and support their convictions.

I used to think it surprising that KMBH and KMBH-TV, both PBS affiliates, are owned and operated by the Catholic Diocese; now I find it "sinister," as sinister best describes a hidden agenda of censorship and suppression of the truth.

By squashing the airing of "Frontline's" "Hand of God," KMBH has directly contradicted the mission of public broadcasting - that of meeting the diverse needs and interests of the entire citizenry, which is one of society's best hopes for disseminating information in a fair and unbiased light.

KMBH also contradicted itself. On its Web site, its own mission statement states that "information on church life at all levels, beginning with our own parishes and diocese ... and documentaries on people, events and aspects of our church life" are included in its programming.

Though disconcerting in that "church life" by definition addresses only a segment of our public and "public broadcasting" should be separate from any church or religious organization, KMBH's mission statement alone should have dictated the showing of Frontline's "Hand of God," a documentary on a very current issue and relevant aspect of "church life," a documentary that has been called "gripping" and "help(ing) others on the path of renewal and recovery."

Monsignor Pedro Briseño apparently seems to have chosen to protect his vested interests in the church instead of helping those souls they supposedly care for with an enlightening and educational program. This can be construed as yet another example in which the Catholic Church has protected and enabled molesters.

At the very least, Msgr. Briseño seems to believe that our community is incapable of deciding for itself what programming to watch, equating our listening and viewing public to naïve and gullible children. This censorship is worse than condescending and arrogant; it is downright dangerous.

As Hitler outlined his theory of propaganda and censorship in Mein Kampf:

"The chief function of censorship is to convince the masses, whose slowness of understanding needs to be given time in order that they may absorb information in order to serve the State's purposes."

All I can say is, "Thank free will and self-determination for Sirius radio and the BBC!"

Linda Forse