The festival 2017


11th September, the resignation of one pope followed by the arrival of Francis, the advent of social networks and “online religion”, the movements of peoples and mass exoduses, growing religious variety as part of a new “super-diversity”: these are just some of the many facts and processes which over recent decades have radically changed the relationship between religions and society, echoed and stimulated by the world of cinema, which has undergone epic transformation itself.

The 20th birthday of Religion Today thus necessarily becomes the occasion to recall the “twenty years that have changed the world” and revolutionized our lives in the context of post-secularization and the so-called “return to holiness”; and at the same time to consider the many ways different countries around the world have interpreted and continue to interpret these dynamics through cinema, in a framework of reflection, which has always been at the heart of the Festival, on worship as the object of expression (but also in terms of industry and entertainment) through the specific and contemporary medium of cinematography.

Ever since its origins Religion Today has also had a more radical objective: to explore the potential of cinema for interreligious dialogue starting from the observation, borne out by time that the seventh art, with its intrinsic characteristics, can do a lot to undermine clichés, stereotypes and trivialization, contributing instead to a better understanding of different spiritualities, cultures, mentalities, and ideas of the world.

Two paths have developed which along the way have experienced U-turns, second thoughts, moments of crisis and sudden surges in enthusiasm; the fortunes of the Trentino Festival launched at the end of the millennium, connected to the historical calling of the “city of the Council” ready to heal old and new wounds, with a welcoming spirit of respect towards one another and with a programmatic look towards the “here and now”. Not by chance did this become an integral part of the name of the original project.

Over the years the world of cinema has also witnessed the perception of a general religious reawakening in a world which is both somewhat free and also an orphan of twentieth century ideologies. The initial enthusiasm of the first editions, which above all tried to show the unity between faiths and fundamental shared common values between different religious traditions all “under the same sky”, was followed by the momentous trauma of 11th September. The new international scene dramatically relaunched the urgent need for interreligious dialogue as the only way to navigate the dangerous aftermath of that “clash of civilizations”. At the same time, religious themes which had previously been confined to the sidelines and given lesser importance, suddenly dominated the well-known festivals, finding more space dedicated to them in mainstream cinema works. For Religion Today this is the start of a new phase, which can be summed up by the metaphor “exploring the differences”, searching for new ways and means to discover the complexity of religious phenomena and all their representations, without shying away from criticisms and tensions, widening the panorama to a debate on secularism. A bridge leading towards a future which again invites us to defend the possibility of peace.