McDonagh’s ‘Calvary’ praised by US archbishop as ‘unforgettable’

Controversial director also criticised for ‘disrespectful’ comments about Irish film industry

Director John Michael McDonagh has been subject to fierce criticism for effectively disowning the Irish film industry, but his latest release Calvary has found an enthusiastic and high-profile supporter overseas.

Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput has just written an ecstatic review in the Boston Globe in which he praised Calvary's "understated power" and described it as an "unblinking, unforgettable film".

McDonagh's comments that Irish films were "unintelligent" and not technically accomplished, along with his believe that Calvary is not an Irish film, has generated real anger within the industry in Ireland. At the weekend the mounting controversy was joined by one of Ireland's most successful film producers.

‘Disrespectful and arrogant’

Rebecca O’Flanagan, described McDonagh’s comments as “disrespectful and arrogant in the extreme” and also “entirely unnecessary”.

She said McDonagh had got a “huge proportion” of Irish Film Board funding (€975,000) on the basis that the film was Irish and disowning it as such was a “moral breach of contract”. Ms O’Flanagan, whose producing credits include The Stag and Good Vibrations, also criticised the board for not being more robust in criticising McDonagh.

The board has refrained from criticising McDonagh, but chief executive James Hickey said yesterday he disagreed with his views on Irish films.

McDonagh has also issued his own statement stating that his comments had been “wilfully misrepresented by a small section of the Dublin media with an axe to grind”. He complained that he had been subject to “low-level bigotry”.