Films That Explored Religious Abuses Won Big at the Academy Awards

Mar 1, 2016

Photo credit: Kerry Hayes/Open Road Films

By Hemant Mehta

Tonight’s winners at the 88th annual Academy Awards included a couple of films that exposed the worst practices within certain religious communities.

Spotlight, the film about Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, took home awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

The film is remarkable, not just for its realistic look at a newsroom, but for taking the subject matter so seriously. You can’t watch that movie without feeling anger and shock at just how widespread the Catholic cover-up was.

But perhaps the most understated win came in the category of Best Documentary Short. It went to Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for her film A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness — a movie about faith-based honor killings.

As the New York Times describes it, the film is:

…an enlightening exploration of the Pakistani culture that allows and even encourages honor killing. In this account of an 18-year-old woman who disobeys her family by eloping with a man from a lower class without permission, she is shot in the face by her father and uncle, thrown into a river and left to drown. Miraculously she survives. All the principals are interviewed.


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9 comments on “Films That Explored Religious Abuses Won Big at the Academy Awards

  • A shame, but not surprising, these two movies are mostly absent in the (social)media spotlight. As with De Caprio’s climate change speech, water cooler fodder they are not – ‘someone else’s problem’.

    TCM, this month, will feature a program called ‘Censored’ – a look at RCC’s role in censoring movies. However, since a nun is hosting, there will be no bashing. Hypocrites, the lot.



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  • 3
    Pinball1970 says:

    Few high profile catholics spell out what has and is STILL happening in the church.
    Organised, well funded, well protected paedophiles, abusing children on a large scale.
    The big debate for instance, on UK BBC1 TV, often features religious topics including these abuses.
    Members of catholic voices who are invited regularly on the programme are only interested in a positive advertisement for the church in spite of its appalling record.
    Generally the image they push is one of how fantastic the church is and how much they are now doing to make sure children are protected.
    Like not abusing kids is something to be celebrated rather than taken for granted.
    These same people are still moralising and advising godless atheists on how to live their lives.
    The fact young victims are still coming forward shows it is still going on today.
    Spot light has shown how corrupt and morally bankrupt the church is and it is difficult to imagine this sort of thing to stopping over night.
    The Church’s reputation comes above everything else, the law, the truth, children’s welfare (obviously) and (for the most part) the teachings of Jesus.



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  • 4
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    A great movie, very moving. A must see. I’m glad the Academy didn’t balk at the sensitivity of subject and play, as they often do, the politically correct, “let’s not offend anyone’s religious sensibilty” card. The movie won the Oscar of the best movie as it should. Bravo!

    The movie also touches on the subject of investigative journalism and how it’s gradually disappearing in the American printed media. Most news agencies (print and TV) are now owned by major corporate interests whose mottos are “don’t rock the boat” and “how can we cut spending so we can increase profits for our shareholders”.



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  • 5
    Pinball1970 says:

    @nearlynakedape A great movie, very moving. A must see.

    Yes I thought the movie was good.

    In the spirit of “All the president’s men” from a journalistic perspective.

    The subject matter was a little near the knuckle for me being an ex catholic boy/altar boy in the 70s, so really enjoying the movie is not a way I would describe it.

    I suppose I was lucky, the priests in my parish were good men, although I noticed Manchester UK (my home) was mentioned in the credits at the end.

    Just one of the cities listed in the outro credits where evidence of abuses were uncovered.

    It was a long list.



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  • We will send out a strong message that this heinous crime is not a part of our culture or religion.

    Well then, why not just kick the habit and be done with it? ; or, why not just be done wirh it and kick the habit?

    As one who’s never had religious dogmas thrust upon them, I realise that for those who have suffered that misfortune, that can appear to be a rather unsympathetic question, but believe me, I do sympathise, because I’ve known numerous individuals who have suffered terribly; one of my nephews pointedly did not invite his father to his wedding for that very reason; I think that’s about as bad as it gets!

    I hardly understand why I continue to visit this site, because each time I do I almost invariably get upset.

    Actually, I come here to learn; everything has a price!



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  • It is convenient for Pell to be in the Vatican where he is beyond the reach powers who would arrest him!
    He seems to be deemed fit to investigate the scandal of the Vatican Bank, and take responsibility for Vatican state finances as treasurer, but is not fit to travel to Australia to answer questions about his conduct! Strange!!! Perhaps “faith-thinking” is involved?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-35713384
    Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell has admitted he did not act after a boy told him about a paedophile priest.

    The cardinal told an Australian Royal Commission into child abuse that a student at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat said Brother Edward Dowlan was “misbehaving with boys” in 1974.

    He said it was “casually mentioned” and the boy did not ask him to act.

    Oh dear! A child did not take responsibility for telling the cardinal what to do – so it did not occur to him to take action!

    Dowlan, who has since changed his name to Ted Bales, was jailed last year for abusing boys in the 1970s and ’80s.

    Cardinal Pell is giving evidence from Rome to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

    He was excused from flying back to Australia due to a heart condition.

    A group of abuse survivors and supporters have flown to Rome to face Australia’s most senior Catholic as he testifies.

    Peter Blenkiron was abused by Brother Dowlan and spoke shortly after the cardinal admitted he “should have done more” about the paedophile priest.

    “If action would’ve been taken that little boy wouldn’t have gone through what he went though.”



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  • I see Hindu delusional activities have been imported into the UK!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-35749269

    Cow urine is being sold alongside food in convenience stores in London against environmental health advice, the BBC’s Asian Network has found.

    The liquid is used by worshippers in some Hindu ceremonies – although it is illegal to sell for human consumption in England.

    Known as gau mutra, it was found in several shops which also sold food.

    The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health warned against its sale where food was present.

    All the bottles found by the BBC had a label in Hindi which said they contained cow urine intended “for religious purposes“.

    ‘Buyer’s choice’

    In one shop urine bottles were displayed under a shelf of naan bread.

    One worker in a shop in Greenwich said: “Hindus come in to buy it for religious reasons, if a baby is born it may be used during a religious ceremony in the house for good luck.”

    A Hare Krishna temple in Watford, Bhaktivedanta Manor, has a dairy farm which also produces the urine for worshippers.

    Managing director Gauri Das said the temple had been selling cow urine since the early seventies.

    There has been a demand from the South Asian background. They use it for puja’s [religious ritual], medicinal purposes or even cleaning in order to purify things,” he said.

    I don’t sell it [the urine] for human consumption.

    It is down to the worshipper to do what they want with it.”

    A Foods Standards Agency (FSA) spokesperson said although it is illegal to sell the urine for human consumption, when applied externally it would not be considered food – although it could be subject to other legislation.



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  • I see the pope is making changes to reduce corruption at the Vatican!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35775405

    Pope Francis has brought in new regulations for the Vatican’s process of making saints after allegations of abuses in the system.

    Two recent books claimed officials get huge payments for investigating candidates for sainthood, with little control over how they spend the money.

    The new rules mean external oversight of the bank accounts concerned.

    Pope Francis has made reform of the Vatican a priority of his papacy, including perceived corruption.

    The new rules set out the mechanism by which each cause pays for the services of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Vatican office responsible for reviewing candidates for sainthood.

    How does someone become a saint?

    The rules call for an administrator to be named for each prospective saint, and they must “scrupulously respect” the intention of each donation.

    The administrator must keep a running tab on expenditures and donations, prepare an annual budget and be subject to the oversight of the local bishop or religious superior.

    However, the rules do not specify how much money should be given.

    The costs to the Vatican of investigating candidates can be high, if lots of travel is necessary to collect testimony and conduct research about the candidate’s life, including establishing whether they performed miracles.

    However, recent books by Italian journalists alleged that there was no oversight over how some donations were spent and that candidates supported by wealthier donors were likely to have cases resolved more quickly.

    It sounds like a splendid scam to provide employment in the Vatican and travel for cardinals, while the poor of the world pay tithes to the church!



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