The drama film Kairos directed by Paul Barakat, wins the 2018 Tertio Millennio Award – A film for the interreligious dialogue, assigned within the XXII Tertio Millennio Film Fest, organised by Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo. For Mother Fortress, directed by Maria Luisa Forenza, the Special Mention of the Jury. The award ceremony is taking place today, Saturday December 15th, at 5.30 pm at the Trevi cinema.
Kairos is the first feature film directed by Paul Barakat, who has written, produced and directed many award-winning short films among which Fragments (2004) and Gish, a multimedia project about science fiction which also included a comic book created in cooperation with Marcelo Baez, artist of the Marvel team. He served as Head of Teaching at the Sydney International Film School (now AFTT), the same film school in which he graduated.
Kairos is an unconventional drama on boxing with the extraordinary and innovative performance of Chris Bunton, an actor with Down syndrome like Danny, the protagonist of the film who decides to devote himself to boxing to be accepted and obtain respect. Unfortunately, during a training session with his trainer John, former boxer, a violent accident occurs. Consequently, the two men will face their deepest fears. “Too often, in the movies, disabled characters play minor roles and, even more often, they are interpreted by artists without any disabilities. Therefore, in general, there seems to be a misunderstanding about what actors and filmmakers with disabilities can do and this has often meant that the community has been marginalised and/or misinterpreted. Kairos aims at destroying stereotypes and promoting integration”. (Paul Barakat in the Director’s notes).
The award has been assigned by an interreligious jury presided by Claudia Di Giovanni, Delegate of the Vatican Film Library, and made up by Ali Ben Mohamed, Delegate of UCOII – Union of the Italian Islamic Communities; Sira Fatucci, Delegate of “Il Pitigliani” – Italian Jewish Centre and UCEI – Union of the Italian Jewish Communities; Elena Ribet, Delegate of the Protestant Film Association “Roberto Sbaffi”; Filippo Riva, Delegate of the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See; Yahya Abd al-Ahad Zanolo, Delegate of COREIS – Italian Islamic Religious Community; Pavel Zelinski, Delegate of the Orthodox Church, with the following reason: “Kairos undermines the stereotype of the Down syndrome as physical, mental, psychological, relational and social limit. But Kairos also shows us the different levels of love and friendship, with all the distortions of the human weakness. Finally, it reveals that we can love our neighbor only if we love ourselves first: the true existential strength lies in the courage of being faithful to our values and visions, recognising our defeats and learning from them, in self-love, which makes us evolve, redeem, improve and be a good example for others”.
Moreover, a Special Mention from the jury for Mother Fortress, directed by Maria Luisa Forenza. This is the story of Carmelite Mother Agnes who, along with monks and nuns from different continents, faces the effects of the Syrian war upon her Monastery, located at the foot of the mountains on the border with Lebanon, where Al-Qaeda and ISIS are hiding. Despite being a target of terrorist attacks, the monastery welcomes orphans, widows, refugees (Christians and Sunnis), victims of a fratricidal war that, since 2011, has produced chaos and devastation from the north to the south of Syria. The motivation is: “This documentary shows the director’s ability to open a window in the drama of the war in Syria. In spite of the bombs, violence, the torment of the survivors in front of death and the dead, in spite of everything, the reflections of the spirit are alive, the reflections of the despair that becomes hope, of the horror that becomes forgiveness, of the inert resignation that becomes obstinacy for a bigger project of sharing, redeeming love, peace, brotherhood and sisterhood”.
The competing films were 9, coming from very distant places. They have focused on burning issues: war, religious fundamentalism, family, acceptance, dialogue. Instead, the festival wanted to promote a dialogue on these issues, to convey an important message: movies bring people together.