John Paul II film festival holds inaugural awards ceremony

Some of the John Paul II Film Festival award winners
Some of the John Paul II Film Festival award winners

.- Self-described as “a home to filmmakers who have chosen to use this medium to express and share a message of hope, struggle, triumph and Love to the world,” the John Paul II International Film Festival held its first awards ceremony on Saturday night, in Florida.

The festival took place on the Miami campus of Florida International University on Nov. 7, where guests were welcomed by a live band and a spread of wine, coffee and desserts.

Speaking to a packed room, the festival's co-director and coordinator Laura Alvarado explained, “Most festivals do not open their awards ceremonies to the community, but we have said from the beginning that this is the 'People's Festival.' For this reason, the community is most welcome in it's attendance.”

The brand new film festival was hosted by the non-profit 7eventhDay Media, Inc., and was created in response to the late Pontiff's apostolic “Letter to Artists.” A statement on the festival's website said that, “in 1999 the late Pope John Paul II challenged artists to respond to the world's need for Truth, Love and Peace through the use of art. With the coming generations, it is becoming more and more apparent that the world hungers for meaning – for a reminder of what we are meant to do on this earth.”

According to festival organizers, there is “a strong demand for films that promote life, love and strong family values,” which was evidenced by the more than 100 submissions to this year's event.

Five awards were presented Saturday night to filmmakers of feature, short and documentary films.

“The Reel Rose Awards are presented to the films this year which exceptionally provided provocative story telling, high artistic technique, and truthful filmmaking,” said co-director and film coordinator Frank Brennan, before announcing the winners.

In addition to the Reel Rose Awards, other categories for competition included People's Choice and the film that best personified the Festival's 2009 theme, “Faith through the Storm.” The latter honor went to a documentary titled “The Water Project,” which followed a non-profit group that traveled to the Dominican Republic and installed an aqueduct for a community that had never seen running water.

When the JP2 crew first began working on this festival back in late January of 2009, we would never have thought we'd be putting together such a huge project in nine months, festival organizers told CNA.

More information about the festival can be found at: http://www.jp2filmfestival.com/index.html.

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