The Ecumenical Jury: Celebrating Artistic Excellence and Human Values at the Cannes Film Festival
For nearly eight decades, the Cannes Film Festival has not only been a prestigious event celebrating the art of filmmaking but has also recognized the profound impact that movies can have on society. Among the distinguished juries and awards at the festival, one stands out for its unique perspective and commitment to human values: the Ecumenical Jury. Through its partnership with INTERFILM, SIGNIS (World Catholic Association for Communication) has been actively participating in this jury since 1974, contributing to the celebration of cinematic excellence with a focus on artistic and human qualities. Each year, the Ecumenical Jury is composed of six members hailing from diverse cultures and countries. These individuals, who are professionals in various fields of cinema such as journalists, critics, theologians, and teachers, are also affiliated with Christian churches and promote interreligious dialogue. Their collective expertise and open-mindedness ensure a comprehensive evaluation of the films in competition. This year, the jury is composed of Néstor Briceño (Venezuela) - President, Anne-Laure Filhol (France), Katia Margerie (France), Alberto V. Ramos Ruiz (Cuba), Joel Ruml (Czech Republic), and Jane Stranz (England). During the Cannes Film Festival, the Ecumenical Jury convenes multiple times to watch, analyze, and discuss the movies. Their deliberations are marked by complete independence, allowing them to express their thoughts freely and form well-rounded judgments. The jury members bring a distinct perspective to the table, seeking films that not only demonstrate artistic brilliance but also delve into the depths of the human soul and reflect the complexity of the world we live in. The core values that guide the Ecumenical Jury's decisions align closely with the principles of the Gospel, transcending cultural, social, and religious boundaries. They seek works that uphold justice, human dignity, respect for the environment, peace, solidarity, and reconciliation—values that resonate across different cultures. By recognizing films that embody these values, the jury emphasizes the importance of universal human experiences and the power of cinema to inspire positive change. Since its inception, the Ecumenical Jury has awarded 50 prizes and granted 59 commendations, shining a spotlight on films that capture the essence of the human condition and contribute to a more compassionate and understanding world. The culmination of their deliberations takes place at the end of the Cannes Film Festival during an official ceremony. This event brings together esteemed guests, the press, and the honored directors, further amplifying the impact of the Ecumenical Jury's recognition. The participation of the Ecumenical Jury not only underscores SIGNIS’ commitment to artistic excellence but also highlights its dedication to promoting values that foster dialogue and understanding. By engaging with the Cannes Film Festival, SIGNIS contributes to a broader cultural conversation and encourages filmmakers worldwide to embrace themes and narratives that transcend borders and resonate with diverse audiences. As the Cannes Film Festival continues to evolve, the presence of the Ecumenical Jury ensures that films with profound artistic and human qualities receive the attention they deserve. This longstanding partnership serves as a testament to the power of cinema to inspire, challenge, and unite people from all walks of life, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive and empathetic society.
SIGNIS Jury awards Le Sixième Enfant at Filmfest DC 2023
The Washington DC International Film Festival (Filmfest DC) took place in the American capital from April 19 to April 30, 2023. Now in its 37th year, the Washington, DC International Film Festival (Filmfest DC) celebrates over three decades in which we have presented thousands of new films to residents and visitors to our nation's capital. The festival welcomes entries of international and independent cinema, and includes several programs to showcase films made by artists living and/or working in Washington, DC. After years of social distancing, this festival returned to in-person screenings in 2023. Nevertheless, the SIGNIS Jury still worked virtually, reviewing films via streaming. This year, the SIGNIS jury awarded its prize to Le sixième enfant, directed by Léopold Legrand (France, 2022). In their film The Sixth Child, writer/director Léopold Legrand and his co-writer, Catherine Paillé deftly tell the story of two couples from opposite ends of the economic/cultural spectrum who share a desperation: on one side to have a child, on the other side to avoid having an unaffordable sixth baby. “The resulting clash of legal realities and human yearning leads to excruciating decisions and a moving exploration of the meaning of love. It is a film that brilliantly illuminates the human condition in these difficult times”, affirms the jury. The members of the SIGNIS jury were: Pamela Aleman (Canada) Marjorie Suchocki (USA) Bob Kanner (USA) Mary Frost (USA) Frank Frost (Chair, USA)