Click through to see photos from the Faith Shorts 2012 award ceremony:
The winners of Faith Shorts, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's annual short film competition, were announced in London, England on Nov. 26, 2012. Charles Andrew Flamiano, a 16-year-old Catholic filmmaker from General Santos City, Philippines won the first prize in the 14-17 age category for the film, "Letting Go, Letting God" and Liat Har-Gil, a 25-year-old nonreligious filmmaker from Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel won the first prize in the 18-27 age category for the film, "Deathbed: The Musical." Har-Gil was also announced the overall winner of the 2012 Faith Shorts film competition for "Deathbed: The Musical."
Nik Powell, the director of the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in the UK, was one of the judges for the Faith Shorts competition and he answers these questions about film and being a judge for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's film competition:
Why did you get involved with the Faith Shorts competition?
I have been on the panel since the competition launched three years ago. I wanted to get involved with the project as I am very interested in the ethos behind it: to give young people an opportunity and a platform to share what their faith means to them it their own words and challenge some of the presumptions which are made about faith. There are many stereotypes about religion thrown about. People think this or that about people of certain religions because they heard something from someone they don’t even know. I think it is very important to make your own judgements based on firsthand experience not hearsay.
I think the bandwagon effect can be very dangerous. I often see it with film. One person deems a film good or bad and everyone else agrees without even having seen the film themselves. It doesn’t matter what other people think, make your own assessment.
Diversity needs to be celebrated rather than feared. You shouldn’t be put off because a film is in black and white or has subtitles, venture outside your comfort zone. Exposing yourself to as many genres and types of film as you can will broaden your outlook. I think this philosophy can be applied beyond film. Being open to people of different cultures, backgrounds and religions will broaden your outlook on life as a whole. There is a danger that film making is becoming the reserve of the privileged. Film making can be expensive. I also really like the fact that Faith Shorts is helping to open up access to filmmaking by giving portable video cameras to young people who have strong film ideas but don’t have access to film making equipment. For the first time this year there were film entries from Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world.
What do you look for when judging a film?
I have been a judge in many film festivals as well as Faith Shorts including the Sundance Film Festival, The Moscow Film Festival as well as Bafta juries and European Film Academy juries. I am always on the lookout for new talent. I look for a fresh approach. The story is always more important than the script. Good films should create incredible worlds and will transfer seamlessly from one country to another.
What made the winning Faith Shorts film stand out to you?
This year the Faith Shorts festival was inundated with entries from all over the world from Israel to India, Norway to New Zealand. There were claymation, stop motion, documentary style and silent films. Films about hope, loss, despair, adversity and inspiration. All the films were beautifully realised, deeply human and moving. They communicated what they wanted to say clearly and powerfully. They had great imagery which they used to real effect to communicate with the audience.
But the winning film Deathbed the Musical by 25 year old Liat Har-Gil, an animation graduate from Israel was exceptional. The film documents the last conversation between a dying man and his nurse. They debate the meaning of life and the existence of God. Somehow she manages to tackle this very difficult, gritty subject in a very entertaining and humorous way without trivialising or taking away from the seriousness of the subject in anyway. It states its argument in a really original and fresh manner. It is the first claymation film to be entered in the history of the competition and I can honestly say I have never seen anything like it, in a good way. I recommend you watch it.
Click through the slideshow to see all the Faith Shorts 2012 finalist films: