Where’s the Love? Movie Critic vs Religious Audience

Jeffrey Overstreet, moderator; Rev. Peter Malone, Claudia Puig, Eleonora Granata, Jonathan Bock, panelists.

On Sunday, October 28, 2007, Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA; www.CatholicsInMedia.org) and Open Call (http://home.catholicweb.com/OpenCall/) sponsored an panel discussion event during the City of Angels Film Festival (www.cityofangelsfilmfest.org) at the Directors Guild of America in Hollywood.

The event was a panel conversation entitled: “Where’s the Love? The Movie Critic vs. the Religious Audience.” As one of the panelists, Rev. Peter Malone, MSH, past president of SIGNIS (www.signis.net), the world Catholic organization for communication, put it, “This is not the title I would have chosen since it sounds adversarial; I see my role as a film reviewer as one of mediation between the film and the audience.” This was a point well-taken by his colleagues on the panel.

The moderator of the panel was Jeffrey Overstreet, a novelist and award-winning film critic whose reviews appear on the Christianity Today web site. (See http://lookingcloser.org/jeffreyoverstreet.htm)

Our panelists included:

Rev. Peter Malone and Claudia Puig chat after the event


Claudia Puig has been a film critic at USA Today since 2001. Her odyssey led to the position of lead film critic in 2006 and since that time she has also served as a film festival judge, moderator for Screen Actors Guild panels,  presenter at the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. annual awards dinner and is a regular contributor for National Public Radio’s Film Week and on public television’s Life and Times. She is also a frequent contributor on Mitch Albom’s syndicated radio show.  She has discussed the socio-cultural impact of specific movies on NBC News, CNN and MSNBC. She has also been nominated  Entertainment Journalist of the Year three times, an award given by the Publicists Guild. Claudia began her journalism career in 1986 at the Los Angeles Times covering city government, crime and courts. She was part of the teamthat won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the L.A. Riots in 1991.  In 1993 she began covering primarily the movie business, until her departure in 1997. She began her tenure at USA Today in October, 1997 covering the film industry as a reporter for the Life section. She still writes the occasional news story, feature or obituary, but concentrates mostly on film reviews and analyses. Claudia lives in Glendale, California, is fluent in Spanish and speaks Italian and French also. She has a B.A. in Communications Studies from UCLA and an M.A. in Communications from University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.


Eleonora Granata is currently the U.S. Representative and Program Advisor for the Venice Film Festival – a position which she has held for the past five years.  She isalso the Senior Programmer, World Dramatic Features at the Miami International Film Festival. She previously worked as the U.S. Representative for the Locarno International Film Festival and Taormina Film Festival.  Prior  to working with these festivals, Ms. Granata served as Senior Vice President, Acquisitions and Production at Pandora Cinema and as Vice President and Head of the Acquisitions and Co-Productions Division at Turner Pictures. She began her career with RCS Films and Television in Italy, where she held various acquisitions positions and eventually oversaw the company’s worldwide acquisitions and production from Los Angeles.  She is a graduate of the Milan Institute of Higher Education where she studied economics and law, and she has a Juris Doctoratein Political Science and International Law from Milan University.


Jonathan Bock is the founder and president of Grace Hill Media, a company that promotes mainstream films to faith communities and most recently the producer of two Christian comedy concerts: Thou Shalt Laugh and Thou Shalt Laugh: The Deuce (these are available at the book store in the lobby). Jonathan is a former television comedy writer and also worked for the publicity department at Warner Bros. Jonathan attended Connecticut College, is married and the father of two daughters, and a member of Bel Air Presbyterian Church.


The Reverend Peter Malone is a Missionary of the Sacred Heart from Melbourne, Australia, who lives and works in London, UK. Peter is the award-winning author of more than 30 books on faith, scripture, and film, (several of which he co-wrote with Sister Rose Pacatte, the Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City). His latest book is “Through a Catholic Lens: Religious Perspectives of Nineteen Film Directors from Around the World” (it is available at the CAFF bookstore in the lobby). Peter is the President-emeritus of SIGNIS, the Vatican-approved world organization for communication. He now heads the film desk and writes reviews for the SIGNIS website as well as for Catholic newspapers in the UK. Peter has participated in CAFF for the last seven years.


 Members of the audience

Open Call and CIMA members chat after the event

Please note: I was able to download the video files to mycomputer; I am still working on uploading them to this site.

Watch this space!


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