First Mother Teresa Film That Missed MTIFF

KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – The very first Mother Teresa film produced was by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1969. It is said to have made Mother Teresa of Calcutta world famous. After it was shown on television in England, donations poured in. Many viewers said it had a “profound effect” on their lives. Anchored by prominent journalist Malcolm Muggeridge and directed by Peter Chafer the two-part made-for-television film was entitled “Something Beautiful for God.
The film crew came to Calcutta and spent entire days with Mother Teresa for this 58 minute film. After five days of shooting, the skeptic Muggeridge believed a miracle took place during its making. Scenes shot in Nirmal Hriday (House for the Dying) in Kalighat were “miraculous”. Technical opinion held there wasn’t enough light for usable footage. However, when the processed film was shown, the scenes were “bathed in a beautiful soft light.”
Others calim it was a miracle of the new colour film marketed by Kodak Eastman!
Something Beautiful for God film was selected to be the opening film at the first Mother Teresa International Film Festival (MTIFF) in 2003 to mark the beatification of Teresa of Calcutta. However, the film ran into controversy as BBC authorities charged a fee for the film to be at the festival and refused to wave the fee. The film has not been shown in the two earlier MTIFFs and will not be shown also in the 3rd MTIFF either.
“I had twice contacted BBC London by email requesting the film for the third MTIFF. It was sad that they did not even acknowledge my letter,” says MTIFF director Mr. Sunil Lucas.
Here is a Press Trust of India (PTI) report datelined Kolkata 17 August (2003) on the controversy.
The film festival on Mother Teresa organised by the Archdiocese of Kolkata to celebrate her beatification has received a fresh jolt with the BBC refusing to screen the first-ever documentary on her by Malcolm Muggeridge, without a fee.
In reply to the festival authorities’ request to the BBC for permission to screen ‘Something Beautiful for God’ at the festival, BBC licensing officer Clair Geddes wrote back on August 4 (2003) saying that permission could be given, but ‘licence fee to cover the screening will be $ 250 plus any technical costs.’
Subsequently, the festival authorities e-mailed an appeal to the BBC Director General Greg Dyke on August 14 seeking his intervention for waiver of the licence fee.
The BBC replied the same day that it was unable to supply copies of whole programmes or films for free.
“We are shocked at the BBC’s decision. This is a non-commercial, homage film festival and no other producer or director has asked for fees for their films. It is, indeed, very sad that the first-ever film on Mother Teresa, made 34 years ago, should be so forbidding,” Archbishop of Kolkata Lucas Sircar, who is also chairman of the festival committee said.

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3 Comments

Filed under BBC, Film Festival, Mother Teresa, MTIFF 2010

3 responses to “First Mother Teresa Film That Missed MTIFF

  1. The BBC may have made the 1st film on Mother Teresa, but obviously they haven’t imbibed anything from that encounter.

  2. Pingback: BBC Grants Permission for Mother Teresa Film « NewsGrab

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