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Government-Funded Film on Sex Life of Jesus Christ to Premiere

March 12, 1992

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ For 20 years, controversial film maker and painter Jens Joergen Thorsen has struggled to put his vision of Jesus’s intimate life on screen.

His early efforts prompted a demonstration by 70,000 people and the resignation of the Danish Film Institute’s board.

But on Thursday, his movie ″The Return″ was scheduled to open in Copenhagen. It portrays Jesus Christ in love with a woman terrorist, and features sex scenes involving Roman Catholic nuns and an archbishop.

Newspapers have predicted protests at the premiere. ″We expect to have some angry people,″ said Frederik Honore, manager of the Imperial Theater.

Thorsen’s movie became a reality after the High Court ruled in 1989 that the state had to provide money under a law that entitles any Danish film production to a government grant equalling private funds.

The Danish Film Institute gave Thorsen $530,000.

Thorsen, 60, is known as a provocateur who once stripped naked in a shopping mall and urinated on a giant canvas he had painted. He described his film as ″action, humor, great music and poetry″ and said its theme is that ″sex is better than religion.″

Thorsen had first submitted a script for a sex film about Jesus Christ in 1975 and was granted $140,000 by the film institute. But the demonstration forced the board’s resignation and the grant was withdrawn in 1976.

Thorsen said he unsuccessfully tried to make the film in the United States, Britain, France and Israel. He finally shot it in Denmark with a Danish cast after the High Court ruling.

The film is scheduled to be shown in nine other theaters throughout the country.

American blues musician Jimmy Dawkins recorded a song for the movie soundtrack. But he said at his home in Chicago, Ill., on Wednesday that he did not know what the film was about until he was questioned by the Danish press last week.

″I’m very strict about religion and I’m a Christian, so I don’t want to thrive on nothing that’s down on Christ,″ he told The Associated Press.

He said he would withhold judgment about the film until he sees a copy producers promised to mail to him.

″The fact that there are sex scenes hurts me and if the film condemns Christ I want my name out,″ the Danish newspaper Politiken quoted Dawkins as saying.