A film by a lay Catholic in Kerala that speaks of seven nuns and a divorcee has won the first prize at the 25th International Catholic Film Festival held at Niepokalanow, near Warsaw in Poland.
Leo Thaddeus used high degree of symbolism in photography, music, dialogue and art work in his 56-minute film titled Nurunguvettangal (gems of light), the jury noted.
Thaddeus’ work was among 172 films and 40 radio programs from 20 countries scrutinized at the three-day festival that ended May 30.
The film in Malayalam with English subtitles is a story of seven nuns like seven colors, or seven notes with their issues of attachments, boredom, conservatism, prejudice, workaholism, desires and fears.
The film is conceived and produced by the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, (CMC) Province in Irinjalakkuda, Kerala in the context of several controversies regarding the lives of nuns. Some recent developments in the state have affirmed the prejudice of the society toward women choosing religious life.
The film written and directed by Thaddeus and shot in Wagamon and suburbs in Idukki district tries to project nuns as human beings with the similar feelings, emotions and conflicts as ordinary women.
“I do not want to label it a Christian film but as a film that looks deep into the convent life of certain human characters,” says Thaddeus who entered the tinsel world as an assistant to film director Bhadran.
Thaddeus’ directorial debut Pachamarathanalil starring Sreenivasan and Padmapriya was released two years ago.
Though the nine-member jury did not find any film fit for third prize in the feature film category, they made special mention of two films by Indian directors. They were: the festival opening film in English entitled The Last Appeal, story of St Faustina of the Divine Mercy devotion by Fr. Bala Udumala and To My Beloved Teacher, a Malayalam film with English subtitles by Salesain Father Jiji Kalavanal, based in Kerala.