Text Box: Our own Douglas Chang writes:
From October 16-18 I was in Rome to participate in a “Living Workshop” organized by the Religion Today Film Festival, which seeks to encourage interfaith dia-logue and the exploration of religious themes in film.  They are planning to show my own new film, “Absent Father,” at the festival next year, but they were also kind enough to invite me to this workshop to meet with other filmmakers and distributors from around the world.  The topic we were all there to discuss was “How to Bring Religion to the Big Screen.” 
I must admit that I am not exactly a “religious” filmmaker.  At this stage in my life, I’m far better at asking questions than answering them, but I was grateful to the festival for recognizing the real religious dimensions in my film without judging its ambivalence too harshly.
Being in the center of the Catholic world, I recalled something Fr. John had said after returning from one of his trips to Europe,  how he’d been struck by the secular tone of European society, so glibly Text Box: practical and so lacking in spiritual values. And certainly many of the filmmakers from Western countries described a similar frustration when it came to making and exhibiting their films.  They said that religious ideas were too easily marginalized in pop culture, written off as arcane, provincial or anti-intellectual, and that it was sometimes hard for their work to be taken seriously.
Yet almost all of them also believed that many Europeans were beginning to return to a more religious outlook, having found so little else in modern life to satisfy their spirits.  They felt that films could help nurture this burgeoning instinct.
Interestingly, some of the most religiously committed filmmakers at the workshop were Iranian Muslims.  They described their films as vehicles explicitly designed to awaken faith in their viewers; and yet the films they make are so haunting, elliptical and mysterious that you could never call them didactic.  Moreover, I think the best of them can inspire something in all of us, regardless of our religious backText Box: grounds.  Like so much other religious art, they convey a universal human message.
I also suspect that some of what’s expressed in their films goes against the grain of official theocratic dogma in Iran, and that by making them these directors are putting their careers at risk all the time.
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coming in contact with Orthodox practices.  He was certainly not trying to suggest that the Orthodox Church was fundamentally superior to his own.  But he said he appreciated its sense of the ineffable, its respect for those things that can’t be expressed too literally. 

A great lesson, I thought, for budding filmmakers like me.          [Doug Chang. Rome]

Doug’s new Film is : ‘Absent Father.’

Our keynote speaker was a distinguished Polish director Krisztof  Zanussi.  Although he himself is a practicing Catholic, he expressed the opinion that the Orthodox Church was much better at grasping the essential Mystery of Jesus and the faith he inspires.  Several of Zanussi’s films feature characters who experience epiphanies after coming in contact with Orthodox practice.  He was certainly not trying to suggest that the Orthodox Church was fundamentally superior to his own.  But he said he appreciated its sense of the ineffable, its respect for those things that can’t be expressed too literally.  A great lesson, I thought, for budding filmmakers like me.