Das Liebeskonzil (film)

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Date: 1986

Region: Europe

Subject: Religion

Medium: Film Video


Artist: Oscar Panizza and Werner Schroeter

Confronting Bodies: Werner Schroeter

Dates of Action: 1986

Location: Innsbruck in 1986

Description of Artwork: A film adaptation of the play Das Liebeskonzil (The Council of Love), the director Werner Schroeter used a performance of the play by Teatro Belli in Rome as a basis and set it in the context of a reconstruction of Panizza's blasphemy trial.

The Incident: The applicant intended to screen the film. However, following a request by the Innsbruck diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, the public prosecutor instituted criminal proceedings against the applicant association's manager three days before the film was due to be shown, on suspicion of the attempted criminal offense of disparaging religious precepts (Section 188 of the Austrian Penal Code). The day before the scheduled screening, the Innsbruck Regional Court ordered the seizure of the film. The film could not therefore be shown to the public. An appeal filed by the applicant association's manager against the seizure order was rejected by the Court of Appeal. The criminal proceedings against the applicant association's manager were discontinued. The further proceedings were conducted as objectives Verfahren, i.e. proceedings not directed towards obtaining the conviction of an individual but aimed at the forfeiture of the film under section 33 of the Media Act. The Regional Court ordered the forfeiture of the film, considering that the severe interference with religious feelings caused by the provocative attitude of the film outweighed the freedom of art guaranteed under the Austrian Constitution.

Results of Incident: The applicant association's manager appealed to the Court of Appeal of Innsbruck. The Court confirmed the decision of a lower court, based on the assumption that "artistic freedom is necessarily limited by the rights of others to religious freedom and the obligation of the state to guarantee a society founded on order and tolerance." It also found he lacked locus standi since he did not own the copyright of the film and declared his appeal inadmissible. The Federal Minister for Education, Arts en Sport suggested to the Attorney General that he filed an appeal in the interests of the law with the Supreme Court. The Attorney General declined to do so.

Source: NCAC, Arne Ruth and Information also obtained from the Utrecht School of Law site