Golden Compass the Movie

I am receiving many email requests for information on the upcoming release of the book-into-film The Golden Compass. The novel on which the film is based is part of a trilogy by Phillip Pullman called “His Dark Materials”, said to come from a line in Milton’s Paradise Lost. The first volume was originally titled Northern Lights in the UK when it was published in 1995.

 

 

 

 

According to some sources, about two months ago the Catholic League began a campaign to boycott the film. Although I have not seen the organization’s materials, I understand a kit was sent to all the Catholic schools in the U.S. The CL does not seem to be taking issue with the film itself, but that the film will make young people want to read the books, which the CL finds anti-Catholic. But again, I have not seen the materials.

 

To prepare for the film’s release, I am currently reading The Golden Compass, and the rest of the trilogy (The Subtle Knife, 1997 and The Amber Spyglass, 2000). New Line Cinema has said that if the first film does well, then they will make the others.

 

As a proponent of media mindfulness (media literacy within the faith community), I suggest that it is more useful to enter into communication and conversation about the books and the issues the books and movie may raise rather than to “just say no.” If parents do not wish their children to see the film, they would do well to explain “why” based on their own reading and research. Otherwise, when the parents or caregivers are not looking, kids will find a way to see the film, if not in December when it is released, then when it comes out on DVD – and kids may be unprepared to question the film in ways that can help them view more deeply.

 

One Catholic mother I know listened to The Golden Compass on CD with her family and then theytalked about it. My guess is that she and her family will go and see the film because their practice as parents has always been to talk with their children about the movies they see – even difficult films when some of their older children were teenagers. Education and faith formation is more important to them than control. By just saying “no” the feeling that they are in control may make some parents feel better but doesn’t really inform a child (except that it teaches something about power and how it is administered especially to kids who are old enough to care or want to see the film.)

 

Children don’t see what adults see, and vice versa; children don’t have the faith formation or level of religious education yet to be able to judge subtle (or not so subtle) attacks on the power of an institution like the Catholic Church, which is what has been said about the novel.  Children won’t “get” what parents or adults are upset about. This means that some serious faith formation/catechesis (including Church history) needs to take place for adults so they can explain the “why” of their decision about the film; that their reasons be set within a frame of reference that young people may understand, whether or not parents decide to let their children see the film.

 

It is a very good habit to question films with children and young people (and even our own more mature viewing selections and practices.) One of my favorite sayings is: “Control is for the moment; communication lasts a lifetime.”

 

Also, audiences young and old may or may not interpret the film in ways that some people fear. This is why talking about the book, film, and issues, with respect for the opinions of children and young people, is required.

 

This is my advice at this point: parents, read the book. Then when the film is reviewed, seek information for guidance and make an informed decision. Remember, your kids are going to see this film anyway, especially if they are forbidden to, if not today, then tomorrow. Their peers will see it; the film will influence young people regardless of what anyone says – and it may or may not be a negative influence. You, as parents and caregivers, are their best hope for understanding the film and for negotiating and making meaning from it.

 

I also wonder about all the thousands of young people who have already read the trilogy; wouldn’t this be a good occasion to talk to them about what the books meant to them and what they mean to adults? These readers are probably going to be the first ones in line at theaters to see the film (and if it does not live up to their expectations, word of mouth will take care of the film without much ado on anyone’s part.)

 

One commentator said that the film has been stripped of its religious references and now attacks the power of all big organizations and institutions. I don’t think it is ever a mistake to question those who hold power that touches peoples’ lives. St. Thomas Aquinas, a good patron of critical thinking (an attitude of inquiry), was never afraid of any question. And neither should we be afraid.

 

The media mindful persons asks: What’s going on? What’s the story? What’s really going on? Why was the film made? Who profits? Who loses, and why? What difference does the film (TVprogram, book, video game) make to me, to others? What difference can I make? In other words, does the story inspire me to do something? Does it compel me to think about others and want to live my Christian life in more concrete ways? How? Why? Why not? What is the movie about? There may be valid disagreement about what the film means, but the only way we will know for sure is by seeing the film. Yes, we can trust others’ opinions, and that is fine, as long as we know why we choose to go with someone else’s view rather than trusting our own critical (not negative but questioning) abilities. But let us recall that the more long-lasting, positive approach and attitude is to respond rather than to react to films and other media.

 

Your children will thank you for your thoughtful response because you will be communicating relevant life skills and enduring communication values that they will one day use with their own children.

 

A colleague mentioned to me that The Golden Compass film will probably end up being a high concept fantasy film. We shall see.

 

Blessings~

 

P.S. I never pronounce myself on a film until I have seen it. And yes, a good movie (good = well made, interesting, a well-told story) can send anyone to seek out the book. Parents who are active in the lives of their children will have the wisdom to know how to work with their young people regarding this film/book and others that will inevitably come our way.

Bella the Movie


Written by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, Patrick Million, Leo Severino. Directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde.

www.bellathemovie.com

Bella: Life is Beautiful
By Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP

“My grandmother used to say,‘You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.’”

Jose (Eduardo Verástegui) is a soccer star who accidentally runs over a child in New York and is sent to prison for four years. When he is released he goes to work for Manny (Manny Perez),   his type-A personality  brother, who owns a restaurant in Queens. Jose keeps his head down as the cook and lives as invisibly as he can.

Nina (Tammy Blanchard; The Good Shepherd) a waitress, arrives late for work two days in a row and Manny fires her.  She is so distraught that Jose hangs up his apron and goes after her to talk. Nina tells him she is pregnant. They end up taking the train to visit his parents on Long Island. Nina obviously wants to terminate the pregnancy. Jose listens to her and shows her what a loving family is like when they sit down for dinner with his parents, another brother and his fiancé. As they walk the beach Jose talks to her about Manny, who is his true brother and is adopted. Jose knows what he is living with for accidentally killing a child. Though he barely speaks of this to Nina the audience understands and makes the subtle connections.

The filmmakers want us to know that this is not a movie for the “choir”; it’s for the general public and is deliberately not preachy. It seeks to tell a story about life and the choices we make; it seeks to touch our hearts. Nina’s seeming lack of options is clear. She is all alone in the world, without resources, education, or skills; a situation all to common. The father is nowhere to be found.

Bella is a film about the surprisesGod sends you when you least expect them, coated in generosity, listening, second chances, hope, faith, love, and grace.

Jose seems like a Christ-figure; he even looks like Jesus from his beard to his clothing. As the father of Nina’s baby is absent, another man steps in to save the situation. Some may think that this is typical – men always save the day in movies. But actually director and co-screenwriter Alejandro Gomez Monteverde gets it right. In the divine-human dynamic, humanity is grace that helps us save one another.

The film won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2006. The filmamkers are a wonderful group of men who want to use their talents to make movies that matter. They cannot say it enough that it is not made for the choir – though all the choirs I have met who have seen the film, love it.

Bella is low budget and knows it; the film never goes or gets beyond itself. Tammy Blanchard as the waitress is particularly good. Eduardo Verástegui as Jose is a former telenovela and rock star from Mexico, who plays the quiet Jose with quiet dignity.

US and Canadian Media Educators Share 2007 Media Literacy Honors


American & Canadian Media Educators Share 2007 Media Literacy Honors

On the 20th anniversary of the award, two media educators share this year’s annual Jessie McCanse Award, given to individuals for their outstanding sustained contribution to the field of media literacy. The award is given by the National Telemedia Council (NTC) based in Madison, Wisconsin.

“This year’s recipients exemplify the high principles of excellence, dedication and innovation that The Jessie McCanse Award for Individual Contribution to Media Literacy represents. Both Rose and Chris consistently contribute deeply rich and thoughtful leadership to the field of media education” said Karen Ambrosh, President of the National Telemedia Council.

On October 26th, Sr. Rose Pacatte, founder and director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Los Angeles will receive the award at the reception of the Gabriel Awards, the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals annual ceremony for recognition of outstanding positive artistic achievement in television and radio programming.  Presenting the award will be Karen Ambrosh, NTC President, Marieli Rowe, NTC Executive Director, and Ross McCanse, producer and son of the late Jessie McCanse.  (For ticket information contact admin@CatholicAcademy.org)

On November 6th Chris Worsnop, pioneering Canadian media education and assessment teacher, consultant, writer, and speaker, will receive the award at a teacher workshop during Canada’s National Media Education Week in Toronto.  Presenting the award will be Mary Moen, NTC Board Member and past recipient of the Jessie McCanse Award.

“I am extremely proud to be named as a recipient of the Jessie McCanse award,”
said Worsnop, “and to be counted among those former recipientswhom I have long respected as landmarks in the media education world. I am exceedingly proud of the fact that the nomination for this award is by the former recipients, as I consider this to be the ultimate in peer review.”

Previous Jessie McCanse awardees include:


2005  David Buckingham, professor, prolific author, director of Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media, London University, UK

2004 Rich Fehlman, past chair of NCTE Assembly on Media Arts, Professor of English and Teacher Education, University of Northern Iowa
2003  Len Masterman, UNESCO consultant, author of seminal works, e.g. Teaching The Media, lecturer, University of Nottingham, England
2001  Neil Andersen, English and Media teacher and consultant,
Toronto District School Board, Ontario, Canada
2000  Kathleen Tyner, author of Literacy in A Digital World, professor of Radio, Television, and Film, University of Texas, Austin
1996  Jean-Pierre Golay, former director, Centre d’Initiation aux Communications, Lausanne, Switzerland
1995  John Pungente SJ, Jesuit Communication Project, President of the Canadian Assoc. of Media Education Orgs (CAMEO), Toronto, Canada

1994   David Considine, author, professor and coordinator of graduate degree program in Media Literacy, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina  

1994  Madlyn Epstein Steinhart, middle school media educator, founder of Educators of Media and Telecommunications, Brooklyn, New York 

1994  Lee Sherman Dreyfus, former governor of Wisconsin, former Chancellor and Professor of Communications, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
1990   John Brammall, senior lecturer in Psychology & Education, University of Tasmania – Launceston
1989  Barry Duncan, high school media educator, co-founder of
Association for Media Literacy (AML), Ontario, Canada
1988 
Mary Moen, Speech/Communications Teacher, Madison, Wisconsin

1987  Susan Dreyfus Fosdick, past NTC president, 1983-1986, Naperville, IL

 

Jessie McCanse Award

Jessie McCanse was co-founder of the National Telemedia Council which was then the American Council for Better Broadcasts.  She was a teacher, mentor and lifelong leader.  The Jessie McCanse Award, established in 1987, honors Jessie McCanse for her steadfast dedication and leadership role in media literacy, her sixty years as leader of our organization with its positive philosophy, and a champion of the highest standards of excellence, fairness, ethics, and innovation.

 

National Telemedia Council (NTC)

The National Telemedia Council is a national non-profit organization that has been promoting a media-wise, literate, global society for over five decades. We have a long history of a broad array of initiatives for teachers, parents and youth: annual conferences, workshops, a Look Listen Evaluation Project, an early children’s cable TV channel, a satellite interconnect for kids, sponsor recognition awards, children’s film festivals, publications, and live interactive forums.  NTC also publishes the nation’s only journal dedicated to media literacy.
The Journal of Media Literacy brings together the thinking and experiences of the major pioneers, the current practitioners, and the future thinkers in media literacy.

Background on the 2007 Recipients
Rose Pacatte

Sr. Rose Pacatte, a Daughter of St. Paul, is the Founder and Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Los Angeles which offers a master teaching certificate program in media literacy education.  She has an MA in Education in Media Studies from the University of London, UK, a certificate in Pastoral Communications from the University of Dayton and facilitates online communication and media courses for the University’s Virtual Learning Community of Faith Formation.  She writes the Eye on Entertainment column for St. Anthony Messenger and is co-author of the Lights, Camera…Faith! A Movie Lectionary series. Her newest book is Lights, Camera… Faith! The Ten Commandments and Media Mindfulness: Educating Teens about Faith and Media from St. Mary’s Press (co-authored with Sr. Gretchen Hailer, RSHM) in March.  In 2006 she published The Nativity Story: A Film Study Guide for Catholics and in November 2007 Into Great Silence: A Film Study Guide , co-written with Ron Schmidt, SJ, will be published, by Pauline Books & Media (www.pauline.org)


Chris Worsnop

Chris Worsnop is a consultant, writer, and speaker who specializes in media education and assessment. His background is in high school teaching and K-12 curriculum development, implementation, and evaluation in English language arts, drama, and media education. His books Screening Images: Ideas for Media Education (2nd edition, 1999) and Assessing Media Work: Authentic Assessment in Media Education (1996) are both published by Wright Communications, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.  More recently, Chris has also served as committee chair and chief examiner of the International Baccalaureate Organization diploma arts program’s film course.


For additional information, contact Karen Ambrosh, President of the National Telemedia Council:  kambrosh@wi.rr.com

Sr. Rose’s My Space Link

Hi everyone,

I have finally created a My Space account; here is the link: http://www.myspace.com/srrosegoestothemovies

Now all I need is time! YouTube is next! Watch this space!

Blessings

R

Bella the Movie

 
Bella is a  lovely film about Jose (Eduardo Verástegui), a soccer star, who accidentally runs over a child in New York and is sent to prison for four years. When he is released he goes to work for Manny (Manny Perez),   his type-A personality  brother who owns a restaurant in Queens.Jose keeps his head down as the cook and lives as invisibly as he can.

Nina (Tammy Blanchard; The Good Shepherd) a waitress, arrives late for work two days in a row and Manny fires her.  She is so distraught, because she has just learned she is pregnant, that Jose hangs up his apron and goes after her to talk. They end up taking the train to visit his parents on Long Island. Nina obviously wants to terminate the pregnancy. Jose listens to her and shows her what a loving family is like when they sit down with his parents, another brother and his fiance for dinne. Along the beach Jose talks to her about Manny, who is his true brother and is adopted. Jose knows what he is living with for accidentally killing a child; though he barely speaks of this to Nina the audience understands and makes the subtle connections.

The filmmakers want us to know that this is not a movie for the “choir”; it’s for the general public and is  deliberately not preachy. It seeks to tells a story about life and the choices we make; it seeks to touch our hearts. Nina’s seeming lack of options is clear. She is all alone in the world, without resources, educati on, or skills; a situation all too common. The father is nowhere to be found. Know that Bella is not a catechism class; it is not a sermon. It is a story that seeks to touch the hearts of those who don’t or might not believe in life the way that we do.

 
Other themes are family, the surpises God sends you when you least expect them, generosity, forgiving yourself, listening, second chances, hope, faith, love, and grace.
 
Jose seems like a Christ-figure; he even looks like Jesus from his beard to his clothing. As the father of Nina’s baby is absent, another man steps in to save the situation. Some may think that this is typical – men always save the day in movies. But actually director and co-screenwriter Alejandro Gomez Monteverde gets it right. In the divine-human dynamic, grace helps us save one another.
 
The film won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2006. The filmamkers are a wonderful group of men who want to use their talents to make movies that matter (they founded Metanoia Films together). And they cannot say it enough that it is not made for the choir – though all the choirs I have met who have seen it, love it.

It’s a low budget and knows it; the film never goes or gets beyond itself. Tammy Blanchard as the waitress is particularly good. Eduardo Verástegui as Jose is a former telenovela and rock star from Mexico, in other words, he’s gorgeous,  oh, and yes, a good actor, too.

The name choices are interesting:  Niña is Spanish for “girl” and Bella is Italian for “beautiful”.

Bella is a film with universal themes that shed light on the human condition. It is for everyone, not just the “choir.”

 

Where’s the Love? Movie Critics & the Religious Audience

I am pleased to send you the slate of panelists for the Catholics in Media/Open Call sponsored event at The Directors Guild of America, Los Angeles, Sunday, October 28, 2007, 11:00am – 1:00pm. You may obtain tickets at the door ($15.00; $8.00 students) or if you have an all-festival pass for the City of Angels Film Festival, you will be admitted to this event at no extra charge (www.cityofangelsfilmfest.org).

 

Event: Where’s the Love? The Film Critic vs the Religious Audience – A Conversation

 

Moderator: Scott Young, the founder of the City of Angels Film Festival

 

Panelists:

 

Ø      Claudia Puig, Film Critic for USAToday, member LA Film Critics Association

Ø      Eleonora Granata the USA rep and programmer for the Venice International Film Festival (LaBiennale) and senior programmer for the Miami International Film Festival

Ø      Jonathan Bock, producer of Thou Shalt Laugh I and Thou Shalt Laugh: The Deuce and president of Grace Hill Media, Los Angeles, a full-service feature film marketing & PR firm to faith communities

Ø      Peter Malone, London-based Film Reviewer for SIGNIS.net and contributor to The Universe, Award-winning author of several books on faith and film

Ø      Additional panelists TBA

 

Eastern Promises the Movie

Director David Cronenburg (A History of Violence) once again gives us an in-depth look at an ultra-violent dimension of the world and we are probably not familiar with.

Viggo Mortensen is Nikkolai, a chauffeur for the head of London’s Russian mob, Semyon, credibly played by Armin Mueller-Stahl. Naomi Watts is Anna, a midwife who tries to find the family of a newborn whose mother, aged 14, died in childbirth. Nikkolai is more than he seems – in actuality and morally – even spiritually.

The film deals in drugs, murder, rape, mayhem, human trafficking as well as kindness and goodness – and so much more.

This is not a film for the faint-hearted. It’s the deadly sins against the beatitudes. And not unintelligent.

The acting is consistently excellent.

Some may rightly ask: is so much violence needed? Perhaps not. But the reality of human trafficking is horrific as studies and reports of victims tell us. So how does this film as art reveal something valid about humanity? I think it does. How are we to respond to the reality of what this film tells us? Ah. This is the question.

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