RELIGION TODAY FILM FESTIVAL: 14th EDITION (2011)

Città del Vaticano
Friday, 8 July, 2011
“This new generation holds the potential to help turn the tide against religious tensions, building unity to counter those who see faith as a source for division and conflict. I am very pleased that we are working with Religion Today to promote the positive face of faith and build religious literacy in the world today.” 
“Competitions such as these provide the opportunity to build understanding and breakdown some of the prejudices which can surround religion across borders, on a global level.”
 
With these words Tony Blair welcomed the new collaboration between Religion Today and Faith Shorts, an annual short film competition aimed at young people organized by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, of which Blair is patron and founder.
 
This important association, with opportunities for members of the public and schools to broaden their understanding, around a selection of the best films of Faith Shorts, is one the new aspects planned for the fourteenth edition of the Religion Today Film Festival, the foremost international festival dedicated to religious cinema for promoting a mutual understanding between individuals, peoples, faiths and cultures. 
 
The Festival (organized by the Association Bianconero) continues to “explore our differences” in the pursuit of dialogue and to focus on the new generation, as part of a broader annual project promoting a culture of dialogue and peace.
 
This year’s Festival will take place from 14-26 October in Trento and around the province, Rome, Milan, Bolzano and Nomadelfia (GR - Tuscany), with previews in other towns and cities such as Teggiano (SA), Bassano (VI) and Merano (BZ).
 
The 2011 edition renews its commitment to the quality of the films and the network of collaborations on themes which combine religious content with an important social dimension. The priorities of the Festival are those of expanding and consolidating our links with the local area and country as a whole, alongside the active participation of a wider audience through the formation of special juries, the particular attention given to different ethnic and religious groups and the workshops for both professionals in the audio-visual field as well as those less specialized. 
 
Poverty: Problem or opportunity? is the title chosen for an edition which plans to investigate interreligious dialogue starting from a theme which is cultural, spiritual, ethical and theological at the same time. On the one hand the theme would like to highlight attitudes towards material things as viewed by different religious traditions: from poverty seen as a misfortune and heaven-sent curse, to poverty which is actively sought-after, chosen by an individual or community, as a means of truth and an absolute. Then there is poverty as a radical form of deprivation of self as practiced by certain "holy fools". On the other hand Religion Today intends to further investigate the themes of ethical commitment to combatting injustice and inequality which have widened the gap between growth and marginalization, against a background of uncertainty and lack of trust generated by the economic crisis in a society which preaches individualism, competition, accumulating wealth and achieving success at any cost.
In how many different ways can poverty be defined? And how does cinema answer this question?
 
These questions form the basis for the Festival in all its various forms, from the film competition to the “living workshop”, an opportunity for in-depth study and presentations to the general public and schools.
 
The competition is open to feature films and shorts, documentaries and reportages which must be received by 10 July 2011. A selection committee will identify the nominations for the International Jury and for special themed prizes awarded by our special juries in the various host towns and cities of the Festival. At a provincial, regional and national level, Religion Today aims to offer the public at large the chance to see high quality works from little-known foreign cinema productions, which are so rarely offered in other contexts. 
 
The festival will kick off in TRENTO, where all the films in competition will be screened and where the International Jury – made up of 5 experts of different cultural and religious backgrounds - will be based. The Trentino regional programme will begin with a public meeting organized with Caritas Diocesana and the Fontana/Unimondo Foundation which will delve deeper into the theme of the year through the voices of the various religious communities present in the region, as well as social movements and voluntary organizations, financial bodies and public administration. In Trento, the festival will be spread over nine days of uninterrupted activities for schools, screenings and public meetings with filmmakers and experts within a wider education project on the theme of imagery and religious dialogue. 
The presence of the Festival will also be felt around the Trentino region with screenings in different towns, namely Arco, Vezzano and Lisignago. In order to increase the involvement of people from the towns and villages of the Trentino valleys, during the weeks leading up to the Festival people’s juries and expert juries (journalists, immigrants, young people, women, etc.) will be set up, and who will award the special prizes to the winners during the ceremony planned for the evening of Saturday 22 October. 
News for the 2011 edition: Trento will play host to the ‘living workshop’ experience involving filmmakers, producers and experts of different faiths and nationalities, with moments of sharing and getting to know each other in the spirit of “celebrating our differences”. The group work will be open to all Trentino filmmakers free of charge; in this way the Festival aims to contribute to their professional development. 
Furthermore, the reflection on the role of religions in international relations will continue this year, originating from a collaboration between the Italian Ministery for Foreign Affairs – Analysis and Planning Unit, the Autonomous Province of Trento, ISPI – Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale and Religion Today Film Festival. This year work will centre on the Mediterranean with an international seminar on the theme “The new euro-Mediterranean region: the case for a post-secular dialogue” (20-21 October); the programme will include screenings within the XIV edition of the Festival.
 
2011 is witnessing the expansion of the Festival within Italy with new host towns and cities and prestigious partnerships. 
 
Again this year ROME will play host to a day of in-depth study on the theme of poverty in collaboration with the Facoltà di Scienze della Comunicazione Sociale of the Università Pontificia Salesiana (24 October). In the weeks following the festival, a selection of the best films in competition will be analyzed and reviewed by students, with particular emphasis on the pillars of the Faculty: young people and communication. For the first time the Festival is collaborating with the Centre Culturel Saint-Louis de France, "Institut français" in Rome and the Holy See founded in 1945 by the philosopher Jacques Maritain, on the selection of films and the organization of screenings on 24 and 26 October, as well as in-depth exploration on French and francophone cinema on a religious theme.
 
Religion Today 2011 will also take place in MILAN thanks to a collaboration with the Centro Francescano Culturale Artistico Rosetum which will host the screenings (19-21 October). The Festival belongs to one of the wider cultural projects of the Centre, which is a place for meetings and personal growth, through culture, sharing and dialogue.
 
Both NOMADELFIA and BOLZANO/BOZEN will open themselves to the special juries as an opportunity for the involvement and participation especially of young people and schools. The family groups of the community in the Grossetto province founded by don Zeno Santini will award the “Fraternity” prize, while the capital of the South Tyrol, a city famed for its multilingual and multicultural character in the heart of Europe, will see the renewed collaboration with the classes of the Istituto Salesiani Don Bosco Rainerum, who will bring their way of understanding reality in their approach to the films alongside their hopes for a world where communication means mutual understanding. For the first time, the Festival will be hosted in MERAN, thanks to the association with the Evangelical Lutheran Community.
 
This year also, both BASSANO, alongside the centre of Ignatian spirituality of Villa San Giuseppe, and the diocese of TEGGIANO POLICASTRO in the province of Salerno will take part in the Festival. The preview of films is part of the continuing collaboration, which began in the summer of 2008, with the nearby community of Sant’Angelo a Fasanella, as part of an ongoing project of development in line with the history and intentions of Religion Today.