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SIGNIS prize at Filmfest DC 2016

Tuesday 26 April 2016, by SIGNIS

Washington, DC, April, 26th, 2016 (SIGNIS). Paths of the Soul, a Chinese film production about Tibetan Buddhists on pilgrimage, directed by Zhang Yang, received the SIGNIS Jury Award at the conclusion of Filmfest DC 2016. The SIGNIS Award is presented to the film judged by its jury to best illuminate and celebrate what it means to be human in a diverse and challenging world. The jury says “the film speaks to a universal yearning for a sense of transcendence, goodness, and well-being.”

According to the Filmfest DC citation, Paths of the Soul , “combines stunning cinematographic vistas with intimate details to track the pilgrimage by foot of eleven rural Tibetan Buddhists over steep mountains, across streams, and winding roads to their sacred city of Lhasa.” The pilgrims repeatedly prostrate themselves along the way as a sign of atonement and to bring good fortune to others. The journey of 1200 miles, taking many months, is also “a metaphor of an inner journey as well, marked by untiring dedication no matter what obstacles they face.”

According to jury chair Frank Frost, the film offers “a look at a religious tradition different from that of most Westerners, and in so doing expands our understanding of human yearning for the divine .” The film is unusual because it ignores standard film architecture requiring a problem to be overcome. “There is no antagonist or ‘bad guy’ in the story, only obstacles that must be overcome,” adds Guido Convents, a juror from Belgium. “This is a journey to find harmony with the earth, and all who are in it.”

The SIGNIS Jury also awarded a Special Commendation to Behavior by Ernesto Daranas.

Behaviour (Conducta),set in contemporary Cuba, is the story of an empathetic experienced schoolteacher on the verge of her retirement. Carmela goes beyond obligation to personally help two students with issues arising out of their extreme poverty, defending them against harsh and rigid application of rules by an administration which favours the law over love. The film makes a plea for a more humane society in which the lives of everyone and especially the marginalized also count.

Many other films reviewed by the SIGNIS jury were also worthy of recognition, according to Frost: “The fact that our decision was so difficult is a tribute to Filmfest DC for once again bringing to Washington, DC, movie screens a large number of high quality films that explore the many dimensions of our common humanity.”

International SIGNIS Jurors for FilmfestDC 2016 were

  • Frank Frost (USA)
  • Guido Convents (Belgium)
  • Marjorie Suchocki(USA)
  • Gregory Friedman (USA)
  • Mary Link Frost (USA).
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