by Sherif Awad
Since 1997 Religion Today has been the foremost international and itinerant film festival dedicated to Cinema and Religions for a culture of peace and dialogue between faiths, cultures, peoples and individuals. It promotes a journey “exploring the differences”, both in religious practices and beliefs and in cinematic styles and languages, towards a mutual enrichment through reciprocal knowledge and comparison. Together with the world cinema competition, open to any film with a religious connection, it offers a platform for exchanging ideas and viewpoints, including a “living workshop” involving filmmakers of different faiths and nationalities. Every edition presents an “annual theme” and includes special events, academic panels and activities for schools and colleges. Religion Today Film Festival is realized by Associazione BiancoNero, situated in Trento – Italy.
The COVID-19 challenges did not prevent the founders and the managements of the Religion Today Film Festival from organizing its 23rd edition between the period of 23 and 30 September, 2020. Festival venues included the Museo delle Scienze that opened on September 12 with he award-winning Apulian director Gennaro Nunziante by presenting his latest film “Il Vegetale”, with Fabio Rovazzi. The final selection included 84 films from 44 different countries with 1600 submitted films for consideration from all over the world. The edition was dedicated to the environment with the motto “Earth I Care, Custodians of the Earth”.
I was privileged to be one of the jury members assigned to judge the festival’s competitions that featured impressive selection about spiritual faith, interculutral dialogue and ethnic understanding.
Highlights of the festival included:
Taj Mahal, an Indian long narrative film by Niyaz Mujawar who is centering the story on a poor farmer who decides to sacrifice his prized goat named Taj Mahal in order to pay his debts. The films successfully relates religious traditions to current social eneadvors on a poor family.
From Mali, director Malick Konaté sheds a light in Dawa, his long documentary about the Islamic movement by the same name that tried to impose sharia law in Mali since 2012.
After the 23rd edition success, the artistic director of the festival, filmmaker Andrea Morghen also joined us for this video interview:
PRIZES: XXIII EDITION 2020
GRAND PRIZE IN THE SPIRIT OF FAITH
Order and Soul by Zsuzsanna Bak
SPECIAL MENTIONS GRAND PRIZE IN THE SPIRIT OF FAITH
Il Sistema Sanità by Andrea De Rosa, Mario Pistolese
Reentry by Ben Brand
The Wind by Hamid Jafari
Mother Fortress by Maria Luisa Forenza
SPECIAL MENTION BEST DOCUMENTARY
The Wind by Hamid Jafari
BEST FEATURE FILM
Castle of Dreams by Reza Mirkarimi
The Unorthodox by Eliran Malka
BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY
OJAGH by Ali Bolandnazar
BEST SHORT FILM
Kusebek Guo Zhongyuan