Moretti makes noise over attack on his 'Quiet Chaos'

Calls Catholic bishops 'ignorant'

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 "Quiet Chaos."

The film, which opened last week in Italy and immediately topped the boxoffice charts, also is in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival.

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

Some of the most visible criticisms came from the Catholic newspaper 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 Nicolo Anselmi, the bishop conference's youth program director. Anselmi went on to call the scene "vulgar" and "disturbing." One of the offending scenes features the protagonists having sex, standing, fully clothed and seemingly detached from each other.

Moretti, a five-time nominee for the Cannes' Palme d'Or, struck back 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.

The film was given the 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 during 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.