Spanish festival heads rally to support Angel Sala over the accusations.

Barcelona’s public prosecutors have lodged a complaint against Sitges film festival director Angel Sala [pictured] accusing him of screening child pornography in the form of Srdjan Spasojevic’s controversial movie A Serbian Film.

The film was screened three times in late night, adult only slots at Sitges in October 2010, sparking mixed reactions from critics and stirring interesting debate over the film’s controversial content. 

According to local reports, the charges brought forward by the office of the prosecutor relate to two rape scenes in the film, one involving a newborn baby (which was done using a doll) and the other involving a young boy.

These charges follow a complaint made by Spain’s Catholic Confederation of Family and Student Parents (Concapa) to Barcelona’s Public Prosecutors for minors about the film after its screening at the festival, which prompted a San Sebastian judge to ban the film from being shown at the San Sebastian Fantasy and Horror film week in early November.

This action taken by the Barcelona Prosecutors has sparked an immediate response from other Spanish festival heads, including those at San Sebastian, Valladolid, Gijon and Malaga, who have issued a joint statement in support of Angel Sala.

“We wish to state our surprise at the legal action taken against Angel Sala, director of the Stiges International Film Festival of Catalonia, for having included in the 2010 programme of the said event, at sessions for adults only, A Serbian Film, which it is claimed contains violent, pornographic scenes conflicting with the rights of the child.

“Over and above our surprise at pinning responsibility of this kind on a cultural programmer, and not on those theoretically responsible for the content in question (the director and the producers, if anyone at all), we wish to recall, in addition to our support of Angel Sala, that the film has been screened over the last 12 months in festivals in Brussels, Montreal, London, Oporto, Austin, San Francisco, Toronto, Sofia, Hamburg, Helsinki, Puchon, Ravenna and Stockholm, among others. A Serbian Film has also enjoyed screenings at the two most prestigious film markets in the world: Cannes, and the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California. All of this without anyone, to date, having taken legal steps of any kind against the film, those responsible for it or its programmers.

“We also condemn the fact that behaviour such as that shown by the Office of the Public Prosecutor in Barcelona appears to be taking us back to times of censorship limitations on freedom of expression and cultural programming that we sincerely believed belonged to the past.”

A Serbian Film is about a retired Serbian porn star who agrees to one last terrifying role. The film has picked up several awards at various festivals, but at the same time stirred up a lot of controversy, including being pulled from London’s Frightfest in August after the British Board Of Film Classification demanded the film receive nearly 50 cuts before it could be screened.