WASHINGTON (January 12, 2004) -- 'The Blessings of Laughter," a film festival sponsored by the U.S. Bishops' Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC), will take place March 19-21, at New York City's Directors Guild Theater in mid-town Manhattan.
This third in a series of the Faith on Film Festival will present six comedies, at once endearing and rib tickling.
The decision to highlight laughter reflects the wisdom of G.K. Chesterton, said Gerri Paré, director of the bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting. She cited the British writer's remark: "Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. I am in favor of laughter, it makes men forget themselves in the presence of something greater than themselves, something they can't resist."
In that spirit, she said, "Faith on Film Festival 2004 will celebrate the importance the God-given gift of mirth in our lives and explore the vital role the funny bone plays in our spiritual anatomy."
The festival opens on Friday evening, March 19, with the 1978 celestial comedy, "Heaven Can Wait" starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. Saturday's selections will feature classic black and white comedies: Preston Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels" (1941), the Marx Brothers' "A Night at the Opera" (1935) and Peter Sellers in "Heavens Above!" (1963). Panels of noted movie critics, clerics and film scholars will follow these screenings to explore the movies' sensibilities within a Catholic context.
Sunday afternoon is Family Day, featuring the family friendly features, "Yours, Mine and Ours," from 1968 with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda, and 1995's Academy Award nominated "Babe," about a polite pig longing to work as a sheep dog.
"'Faith on Film' offers us an exceptional opportunity to celebrate the art of cinema and its tremendous potential for good while using the teachings of our faith to critically evaluate a film's worth," said Ms. Paré.
"We're particularly excited about a new aspect this year, 'Family Day,' which especially welcomes parents and children sharing funny, uplifting films together" continued Ms. Paré. "With the adult admission price of just $7.00 and children 10 and under admitted for free on that day, we're looking forward to many individuals and families joining us. Virtually 100 per cent of attendees at the first two festivals indicated they would return for another and recommend it to family and friends. It's very gratifying to know that we are filling a need by linking cinema and spirituality -- and showing great movies to boot," added Ms. Paré.
The first Faith on Film Festival was held in Jubilee Year 2000 with a theme of "Stories of Christ and Christians." The 2002 festival explored "Moral Dilemmas: Good People, Bad Choices."
"Laughter is indeed a blessing. That is something that Christians, who are filled with the joy of the Gospel, are in an excellent position to appreciate," added Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco, Director of the USCCB Department of Communications.
For more information on the festival, please visit www.faithonfilm.com.
The Office for Film and Broadcasting produces weekly film reviews appearing in diocesan newspapers, on the usccb.org web site and the (800) 311-4222 movie line. In addition, OFB reviews TV programs and videos, produces a media-related segment for the award-winning Catholic Radio Weekly, and topical articles about evaluating popular culture from a Catholic perspective.
The Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) is an activity of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that develops media programming, projects and resources to promote Gospel values. Donations of Catholic parishioners make possible the work of the CCC.
Editors: To schedule an interview with Gerri Paré, Director of the Office for Film and Broadcasting, please contact Norma Vavolizza or Jeff Fogliano at 212-687-0607.