Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic World News

Filmmaker who idealized violent Communist revolutionary to receive Vatican cinema award

September 03, 2009

Walter Salles, an internationally acclaimed Brazilian filmmaker whose Central do Brasil (1998) won a Golden Globe Award and whose Motorcycle Diaries (2004) won an Academy Award, will receive the 2009 Bresson Prize on September 4 in Venice. The Bresson Prize, named for the French filmmaker Robert Bresson, is sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. The prize was instituted in 2000 to show the support of the Church for outstanding works of cinema.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office for Film and Broadcasting chided The Motorcycle Diaries for its “almost saintly” portrayal of Che Guevara:

Though the film is beautifully crafted and at times quite moving, some viewers may find it difficult, given the hindsight of history, to reconcile the film’s quixotic-- almost saintly-- portrayal of Guevara with the guerilla warrior of later years who advocated violence as a political tool and, less than a decade after the events depicted, helped establish a communist state in Cuba as Castro’s right-hand man … [B]y painting him in such morally heroic shades, the movie opens itself up to criticism by Guevara’s own legacy, including his 1967 quote: “A people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.” This is a far cry from another revolutionary who preached an infinitely more radical message: Love your enemy.


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