'Kler' -- named after the Polish word for clergy -- attracted over 935,000 viewers last weekend, the country's best opening three days in 30 years, according to the Association of Polish Filmmakers. The movie, which explores the themes of child abuse, romantic liaisons, corruption, greed and alcoholism by clerics, has been harshly criticized by Poland's conservative government with close links to the church.
The debut puts a spotlight on the Polish church's role in concealing cases of pedophilia, an issue that has largely been ignored in the staunchly Roman Catholic nation even after public outcries in Ireland and the U.S. An appellate court in Poznan, Poland, Tuesday upheld a 1 million zloty ($269,000) fine on the church in a case of a priest convicted of imprisoning and raping a 13 year old girl -- an unprecedented penalty for the religious institution in the east European country.
"The film amounts to a very serious conversation with Poles" about the sins of the church, Janusz Gajos, who plays an archbishop in the movie, told TVN24. "It should be a shock -- we know of many incidents that are unimaginable, which take place behind the church's curtains and whose perpetrators are then protected."