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German Director Defends Tom Cruise Movie

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Jul 04, 2007 | 5:27am EDT

German director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck was waded into the debate over Tom Cruise's latest movie, insisting Germany's Defense Ministry is wrong to ban filming on military sites because of the actor's controversial Scientology beliefs.

Cruise is playing World War II hero Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg--who led an unsuccessful plot to assassinate Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler--in new film Valkyrie.

However, permission to shoot scenes on genuine army sites was denied last week by the country's Defense Ministry--allegedly because Scientology is viewed as a "moneymaking cult" instead of legitimate church by the German government. 

But Oscar-winning director Von Donnersmarck has branded the ban stupid, insisting it would "improve Germany's international image more than 10 World Cup football tournaments".

Writing in the country's Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, he adds the ban makes Germany look intolerant: "If Stauffenberg and his consorts were considered un-German traitors to the fatherland, now even the biggest star of the victors' nation is not enough to play our superman Stauffenberg if this star is not in line with contemporary Germany in his personal views."

On Tuesday German officials thwarted filming for a second time by denying access to a police station in Berlin's Kreuzberg district. A police statement said the presence of a film crew on the site would "seriously" hinder police activity.

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