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Film festivals divided on showing Stephen Collins short film 'Penance'

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Penance

After news broke that Stephen Collins is under investigation for child molestation, the focus turned to the short film Penance directed by Jeff Wolfe, which centers on the ideas of abuse and forgiveness, and depicts Collins as a pedophile priest.

EW has confirmed that The Starz Denver Film Festival has chosen not to include the film in their festival line-up as previously scheduled, due to the allegations surrounding Collins. The Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival and the Ojai Film Festival will continue to show the film as scheduled. The film had been scheduled to show at the LA Indie Film Festival on Oct. 18, and a rep for the festival told EW earlier this week that they had not yet decided whether they would show it. They did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment on Friday.

The 11-minute film centers on a troubled man, Thomas Walker (David Lyons), who seeks guidance from a priest played by Collins, who also has his share of demons. Wolfe acknowledged the films’ parallels to real-life, though at the time of filming, he was completely unaware of the allegations that now plague one of the film’s stars.

“Although my short film ‘Penance’ has recently played at a number of film festivals, it was actually made in 2013. When I cast Stephen Collins, I had no idea there might be a connection between his real life and the part I asked him to play,” said the film’s director, Jeff Wolfe, in a statement to EW. ‘”I found the recent allegations particularly shocking, as my film is meant to speak to victims of abuse and the idea that the effects of abuse never really go away.”

Wolfe also said that he plans to put the movie on a pay-per-view site, with all proceeds going to a charity for abused children going into foster care.