Watch: ‘Exemplum’ Director Paul Roland Debunks Claim His Film Pushes Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Paul Roland

Since Tubi began streaming the acclaimed religious tech thriller EXEMPLUM on its platform, controversy has erupted over whether or not the film pushes anti-Catholic bigotry, a claim that the film’s director, Paul Roland, soundly rejects.

As Breitbart News previously reported, EXEMPLUM tells the story of Father Colin Jacobi, a young Catholic priest who suffers a crisis of faith and teams with a dangerous hacker to blackmail one of his parishioners with secret recordings of his confession. Without getting into spoilers, the film touches on a variety of painful subjects pertaining to the Catholic Church, from the sex abuse scandal to corrupt leadership, and how those set the protagonist on a destructive and chaotic path. An initial observer might say the film pushes the same old anti-Catholicism to come out of Hollywood, but director Paul Roland strongly disagrees.

Speaking with conservative journalist and movie producer Phelim McAleer (My Son Hunter) on his podcast The Ann and Phelim Scoop, Roland said that his film aims to deal with painful truths.

“Was there any concern that this is about a corrupt priest? Even his archbishop is corrupt (there is one good priest in it). Were you concerned at all that this is just another anti-Catholic priest movie or is there another story that the movie is telling in your opinion?” McAleer asked.

“I’m sure that people might want to initially look at that on the surface,” said Roland. “I’m clearly a very committed Catholic and I love the church and everybody who worked on this, for the most part, was a committed Catholic. I just think that if we’re going to be talking about issues, you have to talk about them and deal with them honestly.”

“There is just no doubt that there are corrupt people in the church. There are corrupt bishops, there are corrupt priests, but there are also good priests, there are good bishops,” he added.

Roland said that the film offers a reflection on the evil that arises in people who become too jaded by the corruption of others instead of focusing on the corruption within themselves.

“Much of Colin’s downfall is that he can’t come to accept his bishop is a bad man and he is corrupt and there are bad people that get into power,” said Roland.

The director recalled a scene in the film where the character Father Liam (as played by actor Francis Cronin) quotes former Soviet defector Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and how it underscores the themes of the film. Movie clip posted below:

“Father Liam, during Colin’s crisis,  he quotes Solzhenitsyn — ‘Evil runs through the heart of every man and who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart,'” Roland recalled on the podcast.

“I think some of us get into this mentality that one day we’re just going to find all the evil people out there — I don’t care if their liberal or conservative — we’re just going to find them, we’re going to put them all in a room, and we’re going to lock them all away and everything is going to be all honky dory again, That’s just not the truth,” he continued.

Roland concluded that blindness to one’s own evil leads to destructive self-righteousness.

“Evil is in my heart, evil is in your heart, evil is in everyone’s heart and if you become too self-righteous about it, you’ll destroy yourself, you’ll become hateful in the end,” he concluded.

EXEMPLUM combines classic Film Noir with Medieval morality tales and plunges the two genres into a paranoid technological thriller that centers on a young, media-savvy Catholic priest who teams up with a mysterious hacker to blackmail a wealthy parishioner with secret recordings of his confessions.

EXEMPLUM is engaging,” wrote Rotten Tomatoes Top Critic James Berardinelli of Reelviews. “It points to Roland as having taken a promising first step.”

Conservative film critic Christian Toto of Hollywood in Toto also hailed EXEMPLUM as a “compelling tale of a priest’s fall from grace.”

Watch EXEMPLUM for FREE on Tubi or rent a commercial-free, high-quality stream at VIMEO On Demand.


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