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Scorsese says a boyhood of church and movies continues to inspire him


  • Film director Martin Scorsese speaks to an audience at the Catholic Media Conference in Quebec City June 21 following a screening of his new movie "Silence." (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)
  • Film director Martin Scorsese speaks with New York Times journalist Paul Elie in front of an audience at the Catholic Media Conference in Quebec City June 21 following a screening of his new movie "Silence." (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)
  • Movie director Martin Scorsese accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award presented June 21 by Signis at the Catholic Media Conference in Quebec City. (CNS photo/Sam Lucero, The Compass)

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QUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- Faith and films have been lifelong obsessions for director Martin Scorsese, obsessions that he said have given him moments of peace amid turmoil, but also challenges and frustrations that, in hindsight, he will accept as lessons in humility.

"For me, the stories have always been about how we should live who we are, and have a lot to do with love, trust and betrayal," he said, explaining that those themes have been with him since his boyhood spent in the rambunctious tenements of New York and in the peace of the city's St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, where he was an altar server.

Scorsese spoke June 21 in Quebec City at a joint session of the Catholic Press Association's Catholic Media Convention and the world congress of Signis, the international association of Catholic media professionals.

Before Scorsese answered questions posed by author Paul Elie, conference participants watched his film "Silence," which is based on the novel by Shusaku Endo. The book and film are a fictionalized account of the persecution of Christians in 17th-century Japan; the central figures are Jesuit missionaries, who are ordered to deny the faith or face death after witnessing the death of their parishioners.

Although "Silence" was not nearly as controversial as his 1988 film, "The Last Temptation of Christ," Scorsese said the two films are connected and not just because an Episcopalian bishop gave him Endo's book after seeing the 1988 film.

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