Adventist Church in Venezuela Hosts Territory-Wide Film Festival
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Eastern Union of Venezuela recently held a territory-wide film festival where hundreds of people gathered to view more than a dozen short films from evangelism and celebrate their production. The event took place at the Cultural Central Park Center in Caracas, Venezuela on October 1, 2022.
“We are breaking paradigms with these films prepared by our media teams in the eight conference and mission fields here,” said Hernavid Torres, director for the Union of Eastern Venezuela. The cinematographic film festival, entitled UVOFilms, becomes the first to present 16 short films based on the parables of Jesus. The syndicate held its first film festival in 2019 on a smaller scale.
It was important to organize the film festival to present the message of salvation in a different way, said Lenny Hernández, communications director for the Union of Eastern Venezuela. “It was all part of gaining experience to develop a 100% audiovisual project, scout for talent and give Venezuelan cinema a boost,” Hernández said.
More than 130 scriptwriters, actors, cameramen, editors and assistants made up the various production teams who focused on a parable in three categories: short film, documentary or music video with a maximum duration of 6:30.
Among the judges was Luis Carlos Hueck, a successful Venezuelan director, who praised organizers and attendees for promoting messages of hope. “The message of your productions touched my heart,” he said. “What’s most important is the message you want to send to the world.” Hueck expressed interest in participating in future film events hosted by the church.
Edgar Rocca, another successful Venezuelan director and judge at the film festival, noted that Venezuelan cinema is going through a crisis and applauded the organizers of film initiatives. “I’m sure it’s one of many UVOFilms editions and I would like to join the church because I also organize [film] festivals,” Rocca said.
Among the winners was the Central Conference of Venezuela for its documentary film “Gracias Señor” (Thank You, Lord), which took home the award for Best Cinematography and Art Direction. “La Llamada” (The Call) won Best Dramatization, Best Screenplay, and Best Acting from the Central Llanos Venezuela Mission. The best documentary with the best sound, the best editing and the best scenography went to “Lumbrera” (Lamp), a documentary by the South Bolivar Venezuela Mission. The Center-South Conference of Venezuela won the best music video with their piece called “Caminos” (Paths).
An Opportunity to Share the Gospel
Jorge Díaz, a screenwriting and film production professor at the University of Montemorelos in Mexico and a production assistant for Hope Channel Inter-America, was among the festival judges. He spoke at training seminars that took place before the film festival. “Technological tools are neither good nor bad; it’s all about how they’re used and it’s time we used the movies to advance the gospel.
Díaz praised the organizers and participants for inspiring others through their film projects. “It’s amazing how young people in the church are so involved and excited because they see what an opportunity this type of production is to share the gospel,” Díaz said. “The fact is, when the church opens spaces for young people who are so talented in the audiovisual world, it opens a new door so that they can be of use to others in learning the message of hope we have”.
The film festival is one of the first to be held in the Union Territory of the Inter-American Division, said Abel Márquez, executive director of Hope Channel Inter-America. Márquez, who was also a judge at the festival, sent congratulatory messages to attendees at the event for their outstanding efforts in fostering creativity in production projects to share the gospel message.
“The fact that this event motivates people who are not necessarily communications or film professionals, who are church members, pastors, administrators in local areas who are eager to learn new techniques and involved in such initiatives is a wonderful step in promoting the gospel to an audience that needs only hope,” Márquez said.
UVOFilms as an annual event
The event drew attendance from many church members earlier in the year when media teams were organized, Hernández said. Church leaders are already planning to do UVOFilms an annual event. “We challenge them to continue to produce a message that can share hope and salvation,” he said.
East Venezuela Union President Jorge Atalido assured media crews of the church’s commitment to supporting evangelistic efforts through film projects. “We know that the world is moving faster towards destruction, and it’s necessary to be creative in our methods to reach different people,” Atalido said.