Since Don Bosco's time the Salesians have recognized the importance of modern mass media. Nowadays that includes film, among other formats--not just using the medium to spread the Gospel or to educate the young, but also teaching the young how to critique movies and how to make them, as well.
In recent years several Salesian-made films have done well at major international film festivals, e.g., in Poland, Australia, and India. One produced in Malta and acclaimed there has just been accepted for showing in this year's Cannes Film Festival. Here's the story from ANS:
(Sliema, April 26) -- Among the films at the 64th Cannes Festival, which opens on May 11, in the short film category will be Stenbah!, the first produced by Boscocrew, an audiovisual unit of the Salesians in Malta.
After it was named among the best three socio-religious programs broadcast on Maltese television, the organizers of the Cannes Festival placed Stenbah! (“Wake Up!”) in the short film corner.
Shot in Senglea, Mount Carmel Hospital, and private homes, it was produced by Boscocrew, with the collaboration of the Salesians in Turin, who lent them professional equipment and a camera. Stenbah! is 21-year-old student-director James Spiteri’s first, as well as the first short by the Salesian Boscocrew in Malta, where youngsters as young as 15 can develop their talents in cinema.
By taking Stenbah! into schools, they intend to provoke discussion about families and broken homes. “It is based on several true stories we encountered, and the main theme is that if we don’t deal with the problems of our past, they will keep haunting us,” Fr. Eric Cachia, the film’s producer and the one in charge of Boscocrew, told the Times of Malta. “There is also the idea of the family, that it is natural that a person from a broken home suffers emotional and psychological problems,” he added.
Being shown at the Cannes Festival considerably increases the chance of the short being selected for other international festivals and at the same time exposes the talent and ideas of the young people in the Boscocrew to potential partners or distributors. But whatever happens on the festival front, Fr. Cachia thinks the film is a winner. “Firstly, we put people’s talents to good use while making the film, but we’re discovering that through this medium, we’re reaching out to kids who otherwise would not bother with discussions or the Church.”
Two follow-ups are in the pipeline, but the Stenbaħ! producers aim to take it to other festivals.