Debut director Salesian Fr Jiji Kalavanal of Bangalore province doing masters in Cinema and Television in Kerala won the Signis Award for best short film at the Religion Today Film Festival held in Rome. Earlier this year, the film Seasons of Love had won a special mention in the feature film category, at the 23rd International Catholic Film and Multimedia Festival Niepokalanow, Warsaw, 1 June 2008. The award consists of a golden rose and citation.
“I am absolutely thrilled with the honour of being recognized in an international festival,” says Jiji who was in Rome for a four day Religion Today workshop for film directors.
The 11th Religion Today (RT) International Film Festival concluded in Rome with the Award Ceremony held at the Marconi Hall in the Vatican Radio building, 29 October. The six city festival started on 16 October. Marking 80th year of its foundation, the World Catholic Communications body (formerly Unda/OCIC) had a three member jury which judged 22 films in the feature film, short feature and documentary categories.
Of 220 films that came to the festival, 78 films were short listed for the festival screenings in six RT festivals in Italy, Among them were four entries from India: 26 minute short film “Seasons of Love” by Salesian Fr Jiji Kalavanal and three documentaries, 28 minute “In Touch with the Divine” by Jesuit Fr Rappai; 41 minute “Traveller in the 3 Worlds” by Priya Patel and 47 minute “The Last Rites of the Honourable Mr. Rai” by Jayasingji Jhala.
Indian Wins Best Short Film
The Signis award for the best short film went to Fr Jiji Kalavanal for “Seasons of Love.” The film shows how a group of college students respond to the rejection of one of them suffering from AIDS, both by parents and society.
“It is a gripping film professionally made by a college student with promising talent,” says Mrs Magali Van Reeth, a jury member from France.
In the feature films section, the Signis Award went to Gianluigi Calderone for 200 minute “Don Zeno” a feature film made for Italian television showing the conflicting social and political context of the 30’s. Zeno, a passionate young man from the Catholic Action dedicates his life to the poorest in the most radical ways of the gospel.
“It is a powerful film with a story and characters that sustain the drama with a strong meaning for today’s television audience,” comments Fr Kamal Correya of Signis Bangladesh.
The Signis special mention was awarded to Mohamed Ismail for 85 minute film Goodbye Mothers which tells the story of Morocco in the 60’s where long time friends and neighbours of different religions cope with political exclusion. The script weaves individual family stories with a moving interpretation of their tragic destiny.
Several other awards by international Jury, Audience Awards too were conferred at the festival.