To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
Vicki Evans, respect life coordinator for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, is launching a Cinema Vita Film Festival to promote pro-life films.
BY VALERIE SCHMALZREGISTER CORRESPONDENT
SAN FRANCISCO — California is where some of the most
dangerous, as well as some of the most innovative, ideas originate — and where
the battle for life at its beginning and its end continues to be fought in the
voting booth and in the state Legislature.
Perhaps most critical is persuasion of hearts and minds of
the sanctity of human life. It is with that in mind that organizers are
launching the first annual Cinema Vita Film Festival March 7 in San Francisco.
Entries were solicited nationwide, and the festival’s
sponsors hope interest will increase each year.
Cinema Vita, at the Delancey Street Theater, is sponsored by
the San Francisco Archdiocesan Office of Public Policy, the Oakland Diocesan
Respect Life Ministry, Marriage for Life, and Ignatius Press. The film
festival’s judges will include actress Jennifer O’Neill, Dominican Father
Michael Morris, professor of Religion and the Arts at the Dominican School of
Philosophy & Theology, and Immaculate Heart Radio founder and President
Interviewed here is Vicki Evans, one of the main organizers
and the founder of Cinema Vita. She is the respect life coordinator for the Archdiocese
of San Francisco, a certified public accountant, and a graduate student in
Bioethics at the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum in Rome.
What inspired the
concept of Cinema Vita?
I am a graduate student at Regina Apostolorum in Rome. Last
summer, a course was offered called Cinema Forum. It was a fascinating course
because it pointed out how much of a role the popular media and particularly
movies play in the life of society.
We would watch movies and then we would critique them. The
movies were often disquieting because they were on beginning-of-life issues,
end-of-life issues, artificial intelligence issues. It was fascinating to see
how having watched a movie, you could be not just swayed by it, but touched by
it, influenced by it.
I realized that you can take an individual and put him or
her in the audience of a really good speaker but the speaker won’t be able to
hold their attention like a movie does. With a movie, they’ll come away with
the message that the movie is trying to deliver. Maybe they’ll go home and
think about it and either discard the message or endorse and adopt the message,
but still the message will be more lasting and hard-hitting.
This is much harder to achieve with a lecture.
What do you hope
Cinema Vita will achieve?
We want people to open their minds to the ethics of
contemporary issues like embryonic stem-cell research, cloning, assisted
suicide, and really think about the moral implications of using life instead of
respecting it. The dramatization of abstract theories goes a long way towards
helping people understand the importance of these concepts, what they mean
in real life.
What will the format of the film festival be? What will
audiences who attend the event on March 7 experience?
This is the first year for our film festival. We will show
the winning entries in our three categories, high school, college and an open
category. In addition, we will show After the Truth, an internationally
acclaimed German film about the fictional trial of the Auschwitz death camp’s
“Angel of Death” Josef Mengele.
It was never known what became of Mengele, so the movie
picks up after World War II, where Mengele is in South America. Mengele kidnaps
an attorney because he wants to go back to Germany and be tried for war crimes
so he can tell his story. And his story is absolutely shocking and he tells it
with no remorse. This movie is so powerful.
We plan to have a panel discussion after viewing the films
in order to talk about the primary theme of this movie — does the end justify
The focus will be on the utilitarian concept of: Is it okay
to experiment on human life if it’s going to advance medical science and cure
disease? This is the question we face today in all the embryonic stem-cell
research and cloning debates. Then we’ll go on to talk about our three
winning films and the value of the messages they conveyed.
What do you want
people to take away from the experience?
That the greatest mystery we face on earth is the mystery of
life and its significance. There are two moments when this mystery is most
profound: at life’s beginning and at its end.
We are asking our emerging filmmakers to bring a new twist
to this mystery, one that will resonate with society and challenge its
thinking about what life really means — and what it means to take it away.
Life is most fragile at its earliest stage, conception, and
at its end stages. This is when it needs protection.
Life is not a commodity. It is not something to be
experimented with. It has an innate God-given dignity. This is what we want our
viewers to remember when popular culture tells them life is disposable.
Valerie Schmalz writes
from San Francisco.
For More Information