Don Bosco Youth Film Festival is Here

The Jury is Called to Choose Among More than 1600 Films from 116 Countries, ‘A Hymn of Hope’

Don Bosco
From left: Don Gildasio Mendes; Don Giuseppe Costa, who moderated the meeting; the rector major Angel Fernandez Artime and the president of the Don Bosco nel Mondo Foundation, Alberto Rodriguez (C) Acali / Exaudi

“Don Bosco believed so much in his boys, and the world must believe more in young people: they are the adults that will come after us,” is the phrase with which the Major Rector of the Salesians, Father Angel Fernandez Artime, concluded his intervention, synthesizing the motivations and objectives of an unprecedented event. In fact, the Salesians’ Mother House on via Marsala hosted the presentation of the Don Bosco Global Youth Festival. A review that involved in very brief time young people of the whole world: 116 nations and 1686 films, lasting from one to 10 minutes, presented in the competition. Five categories, individual prizes, and a total prize money of 100,000 euros. Remarkable numbers and final awards ceremony on November 19 at Turin, in Valdocco’s theatre, cradle of the Salesian reality.

Genesis of the Festival

 Father Artime explained that the “idea of the festival is wholly that of Father Harris (Pakkam, Director of the Festival, ndr), who had already held a similar event in India with over 3000 films. But, such a vast thing was more complex . . . However, young people always surprise us with their creativity.” And, in fact, as Father Harris affirmed, the commitment was enormous.

Five Categories, 36 Prizes

 “It has been a providential path; we were a small team, without much experience . . .  We began to plan everything in December. We launched the site in July, with the possibility to participate until the 15th of October. One hundred jurors of the whole world carried out the preliminary phase, every film was evaluated by three individuals from three different Continents. Then we arrived at the Grand Jury that selected 110 films from which 36 prizes will be chosen. It’s not Hollywood quality; many took part not for prizes but for the good of young people; it was a most beautiful experience,” concluded Father Harris.

However, some of the films shown during the presentation demonstrated that the level reached was noteworthy. So much so that the idea emerged of a true and proper cinematographic school, linked to the Salesian academic institutions, starting from the Pontifical University, where the Faculty of Social Communications is already operative.

Unite and Involve Young People from the Whole World

 However, more than on the technical aspects, the accent was on the motivational. As Father Gildasio Mendes recalled, who is the Salesians’ General Adviser for Social Communication, “the initiative, commissioned at the time of my predecessor Father Filiberto Gonzalez, is very much at the heart of our Major Rector and has been proposed again to unite and involve the young people of the whole world.”

Every film is a hymn of hope for a better life and future,” he added, stressing that the Festival’s theme refers to Father Artime’s message of 2021, “moved by hope,” an appeal to the whole Congregation to promote the leadership of young people, to make young people’s voice heard and spread in all the Continents, in all our works,” said Father Mendes. “An idea born in the most critical period of the health crisis, which “follows the Pope’s vision and his repeated exhortations to young people.

Young People’s lesson

 “Why did we dream up this initiative?, asked the Salesians’ Major Rector. We know how burdensome the pandemic was, with the lockdown, work, and economic problems for so many in the world. So, why not think of something beautiful, likable, great?” At Valdocco Don Bosco would ask: “prepare some music for me for Sunday for the boys of the oratory.” Today he would have done the same. The objective of the Festival is to give the floor to the young people of the world. We carry them in our hearts and it’s not always easy. There is something beautiful moving. Often we adults tell young people how they should live but they have shown us that they have the capacity to think, the word to express themselves, and it’s the most precious lesson.”

A lesson that announces itself for next year as even more vast and structured.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester