A film that had come under pressure to be dropped from the first Mother Teresa International Film Festival (MTIFF) 2003 survived the controversy and was chosen to be the opening film at MTIFF 2003.
Sr Nirmala Joshi Mother General of the Missionaries of Charity declared : “We have no objection to the Dominique Lapierre’s film on Mother Teresa “In the Name of God’s Poor ”.
Archbishop Lucas Sirkar of Kolkata saw the film  and endorsed it. He also made public at the MTIFF 2003 Core committee meeting, the letter of the former archbishop of Kolkata Henry D’Souza about the feature film on Mother Teresa by the French author of several best selling books, Dominique Lapierre.
After seeing the film Archbishop Henry D’Souza wrote the following letter dated 1st May 2000 to the French author and director of the film In the name of God’s Poor .
“The Video film Mother Teresa In the Name of God’s Poor has been seen by me,” Archbishop Henry wrote. “We are fortunate to have this film that brings to life the years 1947 to 1979 and which portrays it as faithfully as it can.”
Pointing to the controversy the film raised, archbishop says: I am aware that Mother Teresa had deep reservations about allowing the film to be made. She had given permission for it initially hoping that it would serve the cause of the poor. Later she picked up reservations about the script which appeared derogatory to the Congregation she had left and seemed also to exploit the poor whom she was serving.”
Archbishop then reassures the critics saying, “I am happy to see that the final project takes care of these reservations and allows deep appreciation both for the Congregation she left as well as the poor for whose cause and service she gave her life.
“I believe that Dominique Lapierre has done much to preserve the rich heritage of an extraordinary individual who lived in our midst, sanctified whatever she touched and brought hope to distressing situations,” the archbishop said in praise of the much maligned Dominique Lapierre.
In his concluding words the archbishop said: “The film Mother Teresa In the Name of God’s Poor will certainly touch the hearts of many and enrich all by the sublime sacrifice of our dearly beloved Mother Teresa.”
MCs owe apology to the living
“She [MT] gave the permission in 1982 and the film was completed in 1997. Fifteen years of profound suffering… We should thank Dominique for having completed the project. Had he not made his film who knows who among the ‘enemies’ of MT would have had full freedom to create antagonistic mythologies! Had it not been for the MCs [Missionaries of Charity Sisters], Dominique might also have made another film on the last eighteen years of MT,” opines the Indian film theory guru Jesuit Fr Gaston Roberge fonder and former director of Kolkata Jesuit communication centre Chitrabani.
Other media and public relations professionals in Kolkata say “While we do not think the coming screening of Lapierre’s film in MTIFF 2010 should be used to voice official apologies,” they insist, “we think the MCs could make the screening a special one by their official presence at the show with a few words of thanks to the Lapierre couple” [Dominique and Dominique].
Dominique and Dominique Lapierre will not be present at the MTIFF 2010 screning. However they expressed their joy at the praises heaped on the film and wrote in an email to the first MTIFF director “We are so happy that our Mother Teresa film is getting such recognition with the MC Sisters…. All our best wishes go to you. Thank you for your prayers.”
“We believe that one day someone should write a story [book] of the whole controversy. It is extremely complex. It is an instance of the MC’s very poor public relations skills,” say professionals in Kolkata church media.