A recent film festival held in Singapore gathered filmmakers and faithful to consider and to share Catholic social doctrine through the storytelling of movies. “Cana Film Festival is a platform for documentaries, short and independent feature films for Catholics, family and friends to be initiated into media literacy and the social teachings of the Church,” Winifred Loh, director of the festival, told CNA July 3. The festival, held June 7-8 at the Catholic Centre in Singapore, aimed at “capturing the essence of Church’s social mission and the importance of its members living out our faith in daily life.” “The Cana Catholic Centre is a gathering place in Singapore for Catholics and friends to share, support, learn and grow in the spirit of love, joy and peace in each other through our faith,” Loh continued. She said the film festival was the center's first such effort, and was “focused on the universality of Catholic social teaching and our shared humanity, which is mirrored by the films of diverse origins exhibited during the festival, and their empowering, socially enriching messages.” The films were chosen for exhibiting some of what organizers identified as ten principles of Catholic social teaching: human dignity; association; subsidiarity; participation; the common good; the universal destination of goods; solidarity; the dignity of work; the dignity of creation; and the promotion of peace. “We face a complexity of issues today, including challenges at work, rising materialism, families breaking up, an increasing divide between rich and poor, climate change, and the list goes on, and each day raises more questions than we care to reflect on,” Loh said. Loh pointed out several interrogatives that become pertinent dilemmas, such as “How do I decide what and how much to buy? Should I give money to that handicapped person who is begging down the street? How should I behave towards the foreign workers around me? Why should I care what my company produces? How should I react to so much disaster in the news?” “Beneath all the above questions lies a more fundamental one,” Loh said. “What does it mean to live out our faith today? What are the concrete ways in which we can put into practice the Gospel command to love our neighbor?” Loh said that “since films often deal with real issues and emanate from the heart, audiences can be touched and inspired” by them. “Even if it’s for personal reflection and prayer, it is the seed of change. In many cases, the film opens the audience’s minds to alternative perspectives that they would not have typically experienced.” She lamented that there are “many good films in terms of production quality and story telling, but which do not get distributed to the mainstream or find an audience. It's unfortunate … these stories need to be told.” The festival director thanked the encouragement, enthusiasm, and generosity of the film directors, and cooperation of the local Catholic community. The film festival included panel discussions after the screenings. The festival was conceived of in February, and was a collaborative effort of the Daughters of St. Paul and the Cana Catholic Centre in Singapore. The Cana Film Festival included films aimed at both children and adults, and which came from Australia, Belgium, India, Indonesia, Iran, Lithuania, Singapore, and Turkey.
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