As Hollywood wallows in ever more sordid sex scandals, an international Catholic Film Festival in Rome has awarded a series of films for their uplifting themes, artistic prowess and positive contribution to culture.
In its eighth annual awards ceremony last week, the Mirabile Dictu Catholic Film Festivalunderscored the contribution of Catholic actors and filmmakers that strive to create great cinema that inspires and elevates, rather than degrading.
This year’s winners included “A Man of God,” a documentary on the life of Father Władysław Bukowiński, apostle of Kazakhstan and a prisoner of Soviet labor camps; “Come and See,” an innovative black-and-white short film recorded without sound; and “Luz de Soledad,” a movie about a group of Spanish religious sisters in the midst of revolutions, epidemics and religious persecution.
Like other such events, the festival grants awards in several categories: best short film, best documentary, best director and best film. For this year’s festival, more than 1,000 candidates submitted movies for judging, which were later narrowed down to 12 candidates vying for the “Silver Fish,” a sculpture that recalls the first symbol of Christianity (ἰχθύς).
The nominees for best film included “Saint Bridget of Sweden,” from American director Fabio Carini; “Fatima, the Last Mystery,” from Spaniard Andrés Garrigó; and “Ignatius of Loyola: Soldier, Sinner, Saint,” from Philippine director Paolo Dy.
The award was given to the film on Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the Spanish founder of the Jesuit order, which highlights the dramatic conversion from his life as a libertine soldier to that of a formidable Christian missionary.
Each day more stories emerge from the murky Hollywood underworld of predatory producers, actors and filmmakers, leaving the impression that the cinematographic world is one of near absolute corruption and filth.
In October, Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson said that the sexual abuse and harassment scandal surrounding disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is just “the top of a very particular iceberg” in Hollywood’s overall culture.
“I didn’t know about these things, but they don’t surprise me at all, and they’re endemic to the system anyway,” Thompson said in an interview. “What I find sort of extraordinary is that this man is at the top of a very particular iceberg. I don’t think you can describe him as a ‘sex addict,’ he’s a predator.”
The Mirabile Dictu (Latin for “it is wonderful to say”) festival offers a contrary message: that cinema and filmmaking can be put at the service of universal moral values and positive cultural models.
Founded in 2010 by Mrs. Liana Marabini, under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the festival aims to highlight the beauty of Church’s contribution to culture and the richness of its traditions.
An author, historian and filmmaker herself, Marabini told Breitbart News that she founded the festival to grant greater visibility to Catholic films, which often have difficulties with their distribution.
“I love the Church very much,” she told Breitbart, “and that’s why I use all the means at my disposal to support the production of Catholic films.”
“Film is a powerful means of evangelization because it is accessible to all and ‘easier’ than reading a book, which gives it a faster effect,” she said.
Along with the annual festival, Marabini is also launching in 2018 a three-day market in the south of France for the sale of the rights to Catholic films, called CAFICOM (Catholic Film International Content Market), which she hopes will also aid Catholic cinema to achieve greater visibility.
A convert to Catholicism, Marabini holds up the Church as “the greatest patron of the arts of all time.”
“Where would Leonardo, Michelangelo, Bramante and Raphael and so many others have been without the Church?” she asked.
Marabini—as well as the international jury led by Rupert Wynne—found this year’s winner for best picture, a biopic on Saint Ignatius of Loyola, to be particularly inspiring.
“In the process of that man’s conversion, so masterfully portrayed by the actor playing the part” Marabini said, “I saw the face of the Lord.”
Commenting on the recent Hollywood scandals, Mrs. Marabini told Breitbart News that “unfortunately, these things happen, not only in the film world, but everywhere where power comes into play.”
She said that in today’s world children grow up with upside down values and often never learn the self-discipline that is necessary for life in society.
As a female scriptwriter, director and producer, Marabini said she sees the suffering in souls, which she discerns in their faces, gestures and words. “I try to alleviate it,” she said, “helping people to discover faith, which is the greatest medicine for everything that ails the world.”
“Faith is in all of us, a seed we are born with,” she said, “but sometimes there is no water to make it grow and blossom.”
Of her own many films, which include topics such as Gregor Mendel, Antonio Vivaldi and Pope Pius XII, Marabini’s personal favorite is “Mothers,” a powerful drama involving two women—one Muslim and the other Christian—whose sons enroll as fighters for the Islamic State.
“The two women do not understand what they did wrong and feel like a failure as mothers,” she said. “They lose their jobs, their friends and even their relatives abandon them because of their sons’ choices.”
“The only one to help them is a Catholic priest,” she notes, “who brings back hope and faith in themselves.”
“The film tries to offer an explanation as to why certain young people—even Christians—become jihadists,” she said, “which in part results from our inability in the West to give children the discipline that they are looking for without realizing it.”
“Above all,” she said, “we fail to give them the greatest gift: our faith. Young people need discipline, ideals and faith, something they find in Islam. It is time to correct this.”