Moretti makes noise over attack on his 'Quiet Chaos'

Calls Catholic bishops 'ignorant'

ROME -- Nanni Moretti struck back at his detractors Wednesday, blaming "ignorance" for motivating attacks on his candid sex scene with co-star Isabella Ferrari in the new film "Caos Calmo" (Quiet Chaos).

The film, which opened in Italy last week and immediately topped the boxoffice charts, also is in competition at this year's Berlinale.

Though Moretti is probably best known as a director, his credits for "Caos Calmo" are for writing and acting, and it's the acting role that's causing the controversy.

Some of the most visible criticisims came from the Catholic newspaper "Famiglia Cristiana" (Christian Family), which has editorialized against the film, and the Italian Conference of Bishops, which wrote an open letter criticizing it.

"Coming from such a courageous and talented and idealistic director like Moretti and such a delicate and sensitive face like Ferrari, I would have expected a more romantic, tender, or loving moment open to life, perhaps leading to a child," said the letter, written by Fr. Nicolo Anselmi, the bishop conference's youth program director. Anselmi went on to call the scene "vulgar" and "disturbing."

Moretti, a five-time nominee for Cannes' Palme d'Or, struck back on Wednesday, saying the letter was its own worst critic.

"Obviously, the priest is not a film expert and, from what he said, it seems obvious he did not even see the film," the prickly Moretti said, adding that most of the criticisms were groundless. "The priest's letter speaks for itself."

Other media criticized the amount of time television news has dedicated to reporting on the scene and the controversy it has stirred at the expense of coverage of weightier issues, such as the ongoing Italian government crisis, the presidential elections in the U.S. and the bloody civil war in Kenya.

The film was given he equivalent of a "G" rating in Italy, though the posters "advise" cinemas not to let anyone under the age of 12 to view the film if unaccompanied by an adult.

The film, which grossed $2.2 million on its opening weekend, tells the story of a television executive who watches the world from a park bench after becoming a widower. It had its international premiere Wednesday in Berlin.

The controversy seems to have helped the film, which, according to producers, has already sold to distributors in 12 territories.

Moretti has attracted media attention in recent months in his capacity as the artistic director of Turin Film Festival, in which he blasted the rival RomaCinemaFest for scheduling itself too close to Turin. More recently, Switzerland's Locarno Film Festival announced that this year's edition would include a comprehensive retrospective of Moretti's work.