“Departures” Wins SIGNIS Jury Award at FilmFest DC

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DEPARTURES TAKES FIRST SIGNIS JURY AWARD AT FILMFEST DC

WASHINGTON, DC – A Japanese film, Departures, has received an award for its “reverence for human dignity” from SIGNIS, the official international Catholic communications organization, according to Frank Frost, jury chair.  Departures, literally translated from its Japanese title, Okuribito, as “one who sees people off,” combines serious drama with human foibles comedy to tell the story of an orchestral musician who loses his job in an economic downturn.  Returning to his ancestral village, he stumbles into a job assisting a man who “encoffins” the dead.  The practitioner he assists educates him in the meticulous rituals that lend dignity to the dead and consolation to the bereaved.  “The film is shot with an art and grace that infuses a sense of human dignity even to the grave,” says Frost.  At the same time it deals serio-comically with the prejudice that the practitioners must face from a population doing all it can to avoid the question of death.  The film is directed by Yojiro Takita.

The SIGNIS award at Filmfest DC, an international film festival now in its 23rd year, is an extension of the awards SIGNIS has been providing at major international festivals since 1947, including Cannes, Venice, and Berlin.  SIGNIS juries now participate in festivals in more than thirty countries.  By its presence in the professional cinema world, SIGNIS seeks to contribute in a concrete way to the development of a cinema aimed towards human and spiritual values.  This marks the first time a SIGNIS jury has served at a U.S. festival.  “We are pleased to become partners with SIGNIS in offering recognition to films demonstrating significant human values,” says Tony Gittens, the festival’s director.  “We look forward to having them back next year.” 

Filmfest DC this year included more than 70 films from around the world, including world premieres, DC premieres, international headliners and award winners, and Official Foreign Language Film Oscar® Selections.  This year’s festival had a special focus on films from Eastern Europe and Japan.  

“Filmfest DC is a good match for a SIGNIS jury,” says Rev. Peter Malone, MSC, chair of SIGNIS’ Film Desk.  “The selection of films at Filmfest DC is unusually high in reflecting a wide range of human and spiritual values.  And our jury examines films from the perspective of the degree to which films honestly probe and illumine what it means to be human.”

In addition to the SIGNIS Award itself, the jury chose to give special commendations to two other films of exceptional quality.  The Canadian film, The Necessities of Life, directed by Benoit Pilon, tells the story of an Inuit man torn from his family in his Arctic home to be hospitalized for tuberculosis at a Catholic hospital in Quebec, and the cultural gulf that must be bridged by both sides.  Kabei, directed by Yoji Yamada, tells the story of a man in 1940 Japan who is imprisoned for thought crimes for criticizing the country’s “crusade” against China.  The problems that beset his family and relatives in the ensuing war years gives a fresh perspective on the destructiveness war inflicts on the human fabric.

Frank Frost is an award-winning documentary producer who represents the United States affiliate of SIGNIS, the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals.  Rev. Peter Malone, MSC, is head of the SIGNIS film desk, chair of many SIGNIS and Ecumenical juries at Cannes and other European festivals, and author of several books on film and spirituality.  The third juror is Marjorie Suchocki, Professor Emerita from Claremont School of Theology, Director of the Whitehead Film Festival, and author of multiple books on theology and film.

Cruel and Unusual: A book about television, punishment and God – AMERICA review

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I just got the May 4th online version of AMERICA (www.AmericaMagazine.org) and this book review of “Cruel and Unusual: the Culture of Punishment in America”  authored by Anne Marie Cusac, caught my eye. You usually have to be a subscriber to access the entire issue online, but during April and May anyone can – you just have to register and log in.

In view of how many crime and punishment shows populate (literally) television’s landscape, this could be an important book. I know I want to read it.

Have you seen THE UNUSUALS? I like it quite a bit; it’s quirky and you get to see inside the main characters more than “usual”. Or maybe it is called “The Unusuals” because these are not the usual police procedural suspects.

Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia) and Jeremy Renner (The Hurtlocker) and the cast of ABC's new police show THE UNUSUALS

Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia) and Jeremy Renner (The Hurtlocker) and the cast of ABC's new police show THE UNUSUALS - location: New York

Now there is NBC’s SOUTHLAND . Location: Los Angeles. It’s fiction dressed up like a reality show; they even bleep out the swear words. More intense than THE UNUSUALS. But for all that, both shows are usual. Crime andpunishment in America. There is no doubt, we are fascinated by wrong-doing – and punishment.

The question is: Why?

Cruel and Unusual Book Review

SIGNIS To Hold First Film Jury at a US Festival – Filmfest DC

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SIGNIS To Hold First Film Jury at a US Festival – Filmfest DC

Washington DC, April 15, 2009 (SIGNIS) – SIGNIS is holding its first international film Jury at an American film festival, Filmfest DC, in Washington, DC. The Jury will begin with the festival opening on April 16, 2009, culminating in the awarding of the SIGNIS Prize on April 26. The award will honour the film that the SIGNIS Jury selects as best celebrating human values in a diverse and challenging world.

 The SIGNIS award comes to Filmfest DC with a strong international tradition that includes jury awards at all major European film festivals, including Cannes, Venice, and Berlin, and with juries seated at festivals in a total of 30 countries around the world. “We’re pleased to welcome SIGNIS to our festival,” says Filmfest DC Director Tony Gittens, “and to have the opportunity to add this prestigious award to those we currently present.”

SIGNIS has been organizing festival juries since 1947, at that time acting under the name International Catholic Organization for Cinema. By its presence in the professional cinema world, SIGNIS seeks to contribute in a concrete way to the development of a cinema aimed towards human and spiritual values.

Filmfest DC is in it’s 23rd year, having experienced continued growth during that time. This year’s festival includes more than 70 films from around the world, including world premieres, DC premieres, international headliners and award winners, and Official Foreign Language Film Oscar® Selections. This year’s festival has a special focus on films from Eastern Europe and Japan.”“SIGNIS is excited about this new partnership with Filmfest DC,” says Frank Frost, SIGNIS Jury chair. “We have wanted to bring the SIGNIS international cinema prize to the United States, and Filmfest DC is the perfect venue for one of our juries, because the participating films that are chosen reflect a wide range of human and spiritual values.”

In addition to Frost, an award-winning documentary producer who represents the United States affiliate of SIGNIS, the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals, the other Jury members for the new SIGNIS award include Australian Rev. Peter Malone, MSC, head of the SIGNIS film desk, chair of many SIGNIS and Ecumenical juries at Cannes and other European festivals, and author of several books on film and spirituality; and Marjorie Suchocki, Professor Emerita from Claremont School of Theology, Director of the Whitehead Film Festival, and author of multiple books on theology and film.

More information: http://www.filmfestdc.org

Going to the NCCL in Detroit? See you there (maybe!)

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I will be presenting a workshop on Wednesday morning, April 29th entitled: Household Saints or Desperate Housewives: is there anything holy or redeeming about the women of Wisteria Lane?

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The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Hannah Montana may be among Disney’s most popular ‘tween and teen girl shows, but what else are our girls watching? The women of Wisteria Lane consistently wins the 18-49 year-old demographic (along with Grey’s Anatomy) and have a significant teen audience as well. Is there anything redeeming or holy about Desperate Housewives? This presentation will look at sequences from the show and offer a strategy for talking about it through the lens of faith, community, social justice, and family.

(There are some interesting comparisons and contrasts with Nancy Savoca’s 1993 film Household Saints…)

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For more information visit www.nccl.org = The National Conference for Catechetical Leadership

The Stoning of Soyaya M. comment on the trailer

 


From the Producer of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST Watch the Trailer >>

   

Tell us what you think … CLICK HERE >>

Want to let others know about this? Forward this weblog address to your friends:

www.sisterrose.wordpress.com

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This opportunity to view the trailer and comment is from Grace Hill Media. I have seen the film and I think it is an important human rights story as well as a heartbreaking tale of what is happening today in at least five countries of the world: the stoning of women (especially). More to come as the film’s release draws near.

Corpus Christi email rumor is false – but a documentary about it is coming out mid-2011

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From About.com

2011 UPDATE: In mid-2011 a documentary film will be released chronicling a touring production of Terrence McNally’s stage play Corpus Christi. The play does, in fact, depict Jesus Christ as a gay man. However, the film is NOT the play, but a documentary about it. Important distinction.

The documentary film is entitled Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption.

You may want to check out this site that explains Urban Legends, Gay Jesus, Corpus Christi Play, why people react to rumors about subjects that touch their beliefs.

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I posted this on April 23, 2009:

For perhaps the 100th time this year a friend has forwarded to me an email that is completely false. “Corpus Christi”, the play by Terrence Mc Nally, is NOT being made into a movie.

I am posting this here because I don’t have time to respond to all the emails….

A media mindful response is to check the sources and the rumor itself (www.snopes.com) before you spread an email around.  Truth is not served by spreading rumors.

 

As St. Ignatius recommended: test the spirit. If he were here today, he might say: test the email. Reflect and research before you hit that send button; this is a service to the community; spreading false rumors helps no one.

Here is what I wrote in another posting Sr Rose Looks at Hollywood:

 

Urban Legends

I have some wonderful Catholic friends who get excited whenever anything worrisome appears in their email boxes. Before checking out the “rumors” or information, they forward emails to all their friends. In the last six months I have received several emails telling me to sign a petition because Terrence McNally’s play “Corpus Christi”, about a gay Jesus and gay apostles, is going to be released soon as a movie. According to www.snopes.com, this rumor has been going around at least since 2000 and it is false. Indeed, there is no mention of it at the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and Google doesn’t turn up anything. I recommend checking out rumors that seek to incite moral panics before passing on misinformation. This is a thoughtful response.

Media Education Conference Detroit August 1-4

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This is a conference that I usually attend and have presented at several times since 1996 when it was called the National Media Education Conference. It is excellent for all those who wish to integrate media literacy into life, school curriculum, and religious education/catechesis. Here is the latest press information:

 

2009 NAMLE NATIONAL CONFERENCE, AUGUST 1-4

 

NAMLE (formerly AMLA) will hold its 2009 annual conference this

August in Detroit, MI. Featured will be the latest theory, research,

and strategies in media literacy education. The theme, “Bridging

Literacies . . . Critical Connections in a Digital World” speaks to

the educational challenges facing teachers, schools and

administrators today.

 

This year’s conference will host more than sixty events, including

keynotes, workshops, screenings, special interest caucuses and

roundtable discussions. Among the special events is the launch of the

new Journal of Media Literacy Education, the Modern Media Makers (m3)

production camp for high school students, and a celebration of

Motowns 50th anniversary.

 

Join us in Detroit for four days of non-stop professional development

in media education! Complete details and online registration are

available at  www.NAMLE.net.