Brendan Gleeson in "Calvary": The new John Michael McDonagh movie is as grim a piece of work as has ever been staged about rural Ireland.

An American Archbishop has praised the new movie "Calvary" – as critics round on director John Michael McDonagh back in Ireland.

McDonagh has been accused of effectively disowning the Irish film industry after claiming his latest release, starring Brendan Gleeson as a priest, is not Irish.

He has responded by claiming he is the subject of ‘low level bigotry’ as the dispute escalates.

Now the Irish Times reports that "Calvary" has found an enthusiastic and high-profile supporter overseas in the Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput.

The Archbishop has penned just an ecstatic review for the Boston Globe.

He praised Calvary’s ‘understated power’ and described it as an ‘unblinking, unforgettable film.’

The report says the positive reviews comes in the wake of comments from McDonagh that Irish films were ‘unintelligent’ and not technically accomplished.

He has also stated that "Calvary" is not an Irish film, a comment which has generated real anger within the industry in Ireland.

Rebecca O’Flanagan, one of Ireland’s most successful film producers, hit back at McDonagh.

She said: “His comments are disrespectful and arrogant in the extreme and also entirely unnecessary.

“He got a huge proportion of Irish Film Board funding ($1.25m) on the basis that the film was Irish and disowning it as such is a moral breach of contract.”

The IFB board has refrained from criticizing McDonagh, but chief executive James Hickey told the Irish Times that he disagreed with his views on Irish films.

McDonagh has responded with a statement which stated that his comments had been ‘wilfully misrepresented by a small section of the Dublin media with an axe to grind.’

He also complained that he had been subject to ‘low-level bigotry.’