FESTIVALS:
* Cartagena 2011

AWARDS:
* Special Jury Prize - Cartagena
* Audience Award - Créteil
* Prix Spécial du Jury au Festival International de Carthagène Inde
* Best Film - Festival Mix Mexico
* Special Jury Mention - Festival de Krakow IFF
* Best Documentary - Havana Film Festival
* Mention Spéciale du Jury au Festival International de Guadalajara
* Mention Spéciale du Jury au Festival des Rencontres du Cinéma Latino de Toulouse


Agnus Dei: Lamb of God

Category |Human Interest, Religion, Sexuality, Social Issues, Youth
Year | 2010
Country | Mexico/France
Running time | 84’ - 52’
Format | HDV
Production | La Femme Endormie, Imcine & Pepa Films
Director | Alejandra Sanchez


Agnus Dei, Lamb of God is a documentary that interweaves the life of Jesús Romero, the life of José Barba, and the life inside a Minor Catholic seminar. Jesús Romero was an acolyte when the priest of his church sexually abused him when he was 11. His mother, a very devoted catholic, yearning for his son to one day become a priest, leaves him at Church where the abuses continued for several years.

One day Jesús finds out that the priest exchanges nude photos he had taken of him in a child pornography ring; he also finds out that he is sexually abusing other children. After going through contradictory crises and syndromes, product of the trauma derived from this love‐hate relationship with his aggressor, he decides to legally denounce him, face him in person, and make public his story.

The story of Jesús is a victim's story, undertaking a battle against the indifference and corruption of the Catholic Church, against the complicity of the judges obstructing the legal process to protect predatory priests, and also a battle against himself, trying to leave behind his fragility as a victim and face his aggressor to break free of the past that stole his childhood and his freedom.

Jesús tries to rebuild his life; tries to get back the love that he once had for Doña Esperanza, his mother, who, trying to give her son to God, gave him to a priest who is still preaching in spite of the scandal and the legal process against him. Doña Esperanza is still a devoted Catholic, she sees her son's painful story as a test God put her through. Jesús actually studies psychology trying to understand the labyrinths of his life and to rescue other childhoods in order to save himself and re‐invent his own life.

José Barba is a 75 year‐old man that studied in the Colegio Massimo de la Legión de Cristo in Rome, where the chosen disciples are "taught into Christ's style and distinguished as the King's sons," according to those same Legionnaires.

José narrates that his school was run with tight discipline, a “soul control”. The spiritual guide and founder of the Marcel Maciel Legion controlled their readings, for not all religious texts were approved. The incoming and outgoing mail was supervised without questioning, the student's coexistence had to be minimal and discrete. José narrates that this was like "something like an archipelago of loneliness, where nothing belonged to anyone, not even their own words. Each one of those young Legionnaires lived consumed by their own silence." A year and a half later after enrolling in school, José is sexually abused by father Maciel, who commands him silence and justifies himself to the boy by telling him that he suffers from several pain in his lower abdomen. The experience repeats itself a second time one Holy Saturday, when Maciel calls José into the infirmary.

This time he didn't have to ask for silence. After being in the dark for several hours he just said "the choirs can be heard now in the chapel. Go upstairs, put on your uniform and join the others." Several teens were abused systematically by father Maciel, it's said that there were more than 200 children and young men. Now most of them are old men over 75. More than forty years had to pass for them to finally denounce him legally. José Barba is the one who first dared to do so, and the one who reunites the other former Legionnaires, they come together to ask for justice by narrating the tragic stories that marked their existence.

Father Maciel has died and the Vatican offers only indifference and forgetfulness while José Barba can't leave things behind; instead, he spends a large part of his life writing articles and giving conferences about the Legion of Christ and corruption in the highest hierarchies of the Catholic Church.

Some images of life in a Minor Seminary go by as José’s and Jesus’ stories interweave. The spiritual guide of the seminary, Father Ramón, teaches his disciples about the need to mortify the body, about how terrible it is to live in an erotized world, and about chastity and celibacy as the most important qualities of Angels; while young men, almost children, take notes on how to learn to be like Christ on Earth and someday become priests themselves.

PRESS IMAGES: (click to preview)