NIEPOKALAOW (Warsaw), Poland – For the second time in a row, a Salesian priest got the “Multimedia in the Service of the Gospel Award” at the solemn Eucharistic celebration inaugurating 26th International Catholic Film Festival at Niepokalanow, 1st June. The first president of the festival Mr. Zygmunt Gutowski and the current president Ms Danuta Stachyra presented St Maxmillain Kolbe statuette with the inscription “Fr. Roman Szpakowski, Multimedia in the Service of the Gospel” honorary prize of Julian Kluenty, Catholic Film association (CFA), Poland 2011.”
Salesian Fr Roman is the president of the Catholic Editors Association, and Founder organizer of the annual Catholic Editors Fair at the Royal Castle of Warsaw. Two prizes are offered in this category “for outstanding achievements both in Poland and abroad in the area of evangelization through multimedia.” The overseas award was given (4 June) to Prof Shigeki Chiba, veteran director of several award winning films including historical films on Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Maxmillan Kolbe and Pope John Paul II. The Japanese director 78 year old Prof. Chiba has been promoter and producer of films based on Christian spirituality.
There was a special screening of his two films during the festival. This is the seventh year of the award dedicated to Polish film director, cameraman, author of over 100 films, as well as president for the Warsaw Branch of Polish Association of Scientific Film, Julian Kulenty (1922 – 2000).
The first year overseas award went to film director Mel Gibson of the Passion of Christ fame. Other years award went to Mother Angelica of the EWTN, Sr Angela Ann Zukowski president of Unda-World and founder director of the Centre for Religious Telecommunications, University of Dayton, Ohio. Last year’s prize went to Kolkata Fr C. M. Paul, SDB.
The only first prize a Salesian production won in any category this year was 25 min Don Bosco Flash Film by director of DB IMAGE Kochi Fr Jiji Kalavanal. He won the first prize consisting of a statuette and certificate in the multimedia category.
Other films by Salesian directors which received special Jury mention in various categories included a documentary entitled “Pool of Siloam” (25 min) by Indian director Fr. Biju Michael SDB based in Israel.
Another film which got Jury mention included a 10 minute documentary from Nairobi Kenya, by Indian Salesian Fr Sebastian Koladiyil. Of the twelve member International Jury, nine members present voted unanimously for most of the selections. The festival is jointly organized by the Catholic Film Association of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe and Franciscan Monastery at Niepokalanów.
Earlier at the Award ceremony, President of the Consultative Committee of Pax Urbis (100 Cities for Peace) for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue Commission Salesian Fr C.M. Paul from Kolkata handed over the peace promoter award to Niepokalanow Franciscan Monastery prior Fr Stanislaw Pietka, and the president of the Catholic Film Association of Poland Ms. Daunta Stachyra, on behalf of Pax urbis Director General Mr Pablo Marcet, based in Barcelona, Spain.
Two Indian cities nominated for awards in the near future are Kolkata and Guwahati.
The Niepokalanow festival held its 26th uninterrupted screening, 1 to 5 June, some 45 km west of Warsaw, capital of Poland. The Niepokalanow (City of the Immaculate) film festival had its genesis in the heydays of “Solidarnosc” (Solidarity) the national resistance movement against the Polish Communist Regime, in 1985.
A group of activists including Fr Grzegorz Jaskot SDB currently at the Salesian University Rome, formed the Catholic Film Association of Poland as a cultural forum. The festival started in the Franciscan (OFM Conv.) monastery at Niepokalanow, the national shrine of Mary Immaculate and the headquarters of the “Militia Immaculate” (Army of the Immaculate). Fr. Maxmilliam Kolbe founded the Franciscan monastery at Niepokalanow in 1927. After the fall of Communism, Poland had its first democratically elected government in 1989.
The primate of Poland cardinal emeritus Josef Glemp, who visted the festival Thursday 2nd June, is the chief patron. He visited the festival on 2nd June and encouraged the organizers and aprticipants. He insisted on their continued support of Catholic values through modern means of communications, especially films.
The 26th International Catholic Film and Multimedia Festival of Niepokalanow, 1 to 5 June 2011, was jointly organized by the Catholic Film Association of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe and the Franciscan Monastery at Niepokalanów founded by St. Maxmillian Kolbe.