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Police raid Joker screenings in Athens, turfing out 19 children

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Joaquin Phoenix attends the premiere for the film "Joker" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 28, 2019.
Joaquin Phoenix attends the premiere for the film "Joker" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 28, 2019. -
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REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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Greek police raided two screenings of Joker in Athens after officials from the country’s Ministry of Culture reported underage children watching the film.

Officers attended two cinemas in the Greek capital on the same night, hauling out a total of 19 minors - four of which were watching the film with their parents.

The film, which stars Joaquin Phoenix and tells the origin story of Batman’s nemesis Joker, is rated 12 in France and 15 in the UK - but 17 in Greece.

The spat over the arrests has become major news after it emerged that a 2010 law could impose 10,000 euro fines on the cinema employees that admitted minors.

Read more: Moviegoers call for Joker 'boycott' after film uses song of convicted paedophile in soundtrack

It prompted former prime minister Alexis Tsipras to publish a picture of Michalis Chrysochoidis, the minister of civil protection, chasing Joker in an Instagram post that has since been deleted.

The furore prompted Greece’s Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni, to give a press conference Monday, in which she criticised the overzealous officials that had called the police.

She confirmed that both the officials were employees of the ministry and permitted to ensure staff were carrying out ID checks, but that calling the police was “a long way off”.

“I admit that I am bothered by the repression of underage children and their families,” she said.

Mendoni also criticised Tsipras for “politicising” the incident.

Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, the director of the Hangover series, has provoked controversy since it was released in October.

It tells the story of a failed comedian, Arthur Fleck, whose isolated existence at the bottom of Gotham society sets him on a self destructive - and ultimately murderous - journey.

While it has attracted mostly positive reviews - reaching a score of 68% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes - others have criticised the film for glamorising its violent protagonist.

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