Cinema Still Has the Church's Attention

Tertio Millennio Film Congress Picks Ten Commandments as a Base

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ROME, NOV. 28, 2002 ( The Church is still in dialogue with filmdom.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture reconfirmed this commitment to dialogue with the world of cinema as he announced the 2002 Tertio Millennio film festival.

Cardinal Paul Poupard explained that this festival, co-sponsored by the Vatican and held from Dec. 3-11, consists of a cycle of films against a «transcendent background.»

In order to promote reflection, a study congress will be held in cooperation with the festival at the University of the Holy Cross ( on Dec. 2-3, dedicated to the cinema and the Ten Commandments.

Cardinal Poupard on Wednesday emphasized that the «time is ripe for the Church to be seen as an interlocutor that has accepted dialogue with the cinema with total frankness and freedom.»

The «cinema is one of the best instruments for ecumenical dialogue: Images are more universal than words, because they touch the mind and heart, free of obstacles.»

The congress will include addresses by Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Monsignor Enrique Planas, director of the Vatican Film Library.

Included among the presenters are film directors such as Rachid Benhadj of Algeria; Barbara Nicolosi of the U.S.-based Act One; and Giancarlo Leone, delegate administrator of RAI’s (Italian state radio and television) cinematographic division.

The congress is entitled «Start from the Beginning: The Ten Commandments in the Cinematographic Culture of the Third Millennium.»

Archbishop Foley explained that the theme stemmed from «looking at the contemporary world, and perceiving in humanity an inchoate need to establish universal values that can guide them toward a civil coexistence.»

«These values will guide mankind toward being at peace with himself and with others,» the American archbishop added.

Archbishop Foley said the organizers believe «the Decalogue that God gave to Moses is not exhausted in Judaism and Christianity.» The Ten Commandments «embrace the whole of humanity in every era, and are the patrimony of all humanity, regardless of culture or religious creed,» he said.

The congress refers to John Paul II’s words during his visit to Mount Sinai in 1999: «To observe the Commandments means to be faithful to God but also to ourselves, to our authentic nature and to our profoundest aspirations.»

The Tertio Millennio festival takes place annually in Rome in December under the patronage of the president of Italy. It is organized in cooperation with the pontifical councils for Social Communications and for Culture, the Vatican Film Library and the Entertainment Organization, an Italian group.

This year’s festival program takes place at the Lucky Blu theater and includes films such as Roberto Benigni’s «Pinocchio»; Roman Polanski’s «The Pianist»; Randall Wallace’s «We Were Soldiers»; and Elia Suleiman’s «Divine Intervention.»

The international congress of spiritual cinema, promoted by Vatican organizations of culture and communications, takes place every year in a different pontifical university and runs parallel to the festival.

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