Conclusion of Religion Today 2008

Friday, 31 October, 2008
The third and final week of Religion Today came to a happy end today, summing up the positive communicative experiences lived since the opening of the festival on 16th October. The international and inter-denominational jury which met in Trento, the participation of primary and secondary schools all over Italy, the living workshop at Celio in Rome, the hospitality offered by the Nomadelfia fraternity and the close family-like collaboration of staff members are the result of the long-standing work in progress which lead to the 11th edition of the film festival.
After the ceremony in Rome on Thursday the festival continued in Trento, Bolzano and Nomadelfia (province of Grosseto). The morning saw the participation of local students followed by public screenings in the afternoon and evening - the Teatro Cristallo in Bolzano showed the winning feature film of Religion Today 2008 "A Span of Heaven” by Ali Vazirian; the day continued with a comparison between representatives of local religious groups on the theme of integration in the “Garden of Religions”, coordinated by RT Bolzano in the person of Mario Gretter, local Diocese delegate for inter-religious dialogue. The evening opened with the awarding of the special prize “Bolzano/Caritas – Religion and integration" to the Israeli filmmaker Asaf Shahar, director of the documentary "Path of our fathers" which sums up the big questions about religion, family, relations between Arabs and Jews through an intense pilgrimage along the roads of Galilee and beyond. 
The same evening Religion Today offered the public in Trentino the chance to see some of the winning films. After the much applauded Israeli documentary "You never know: Shlomo Carlebach", the Cinema San Marco screened the Grand Prize in the Spirit of the Faith: "A Span of Heaven", in the presence of the Iranian director Ali Vazirian.
Friday saw the final screenings in Trentino and the award ceremony under the frescoes of the 15th century dining hall in the Castello del Buonconsiglio. 
The evening, presented by the journalist Alberto Folgheraiter, opened with a performance by the Choir of the Trentino section of the National Association of Alpine Troops and with greetings from the Archbishop of Trento Mons. Luigi Bressan to a festival which is «getting stronger and becoming more international, which began like a little tree but has managed to grow into a forest capable of representing many different voices». According to Mons. Bressan «Religion Today lies at the heart of that which contributes to cooperating as part of one large family of mankind». 
The Archbishop then awarded the special prize “The face of the other”, conferred by the special jury in Trento – don Tonino Bello, to the director Ali Vazirian for his film “A Span of Heaven”, a world preview at Religion Today 2008. Vazirian said that RT «is the only festival, born in Italy but continuing to grow all over the world like a tree bearing fruit, which has managed to weave together a network from one heart to the other and from one mind to another, from Islam to Judaism, from Hinduism to Buddhism and Christianity».
Alessandro Martinelli, director of the Diocesan Centre for Inter-religious Dialogue then awarded the prize for the special jury in Trento – don Silvio Franch, the prize for Dialogue between religions to the film by Mohamed Ismail “Goodbye mothers” (Morocco). 
The “Portraits” prize of the special jury in Trento - in the name of Massimo Prevedello was awarded by the late filmmaker’s daughter to the courageous Chiara M., protagonist of “A meeting with Chiara” by Cinzia Th Torrini (Italy). 
Gianluigi Bozza, head of Cultural Activities of the Autonomous Province of Trento, awarded the prize for “Religion and Society” in his capacity as president of the special jury made of of journalists of the city of Trento (also including Katia Bernardi, Toni Cembran, Elena Fontana, Giorgio Lacchin, Lorenzo Lucianer, Sandra Matuella and Marco Pontoni) to the Iranian filmmaker Bahram Tavakoli for his feature film “Barefoot in Heaven”, which «by means of an effective and modern expressive language spontaneously captures such complex themes as the profound meaning and fragility of any vocation which seeks the reasons for its existence in this world, confronted by cultural and moral prejudices and by the fear which accompanies every form of unconditional love for others».
The jury made up of journalists also awarded the documentary “Don Milani” by Elisabetta Castana: «which offers a fundamental reflection on the importance of education as a form of human and civil growth whose diffusion can represent liberation and can offer all new generations the chance of a better and richer future open to the world».
A second special mention went to the short film “Prayer” by Ziya Shikhlinsky: «which through the prayers of various religions present in a land praying for the victims of the bloodshed of Koahjali, in different places of worship, a spirit of tolerance and understanding emerges which is a sign of hope for the future of many religions in a globalized world».
The artistic director of the Festival Lia G. Beltrami gave special thanks to the filmmaker Yoko Matsui, who came especially from Japan on behalf of her husband, the director of the documentary “Sakthi Dancers and Sister Chandra”.
Finally, in Tione there was a special screening of the film “Goodbye Mothers” for the Arab speaking community with the filmmaker Mohamed Ismail. 
The main festival events are over but new appointments have been made which will provide further opportunities for cementing intercultural ties which are increasingly important: Religion Today and the Association Friends of Religion Today may be contacted for special screenings both at the Religion Today headquarters and in school or public halls equipped for showing films.