Venice, September 7, 2013 (SIGNIS)- The Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia, the Venice International Film Festival, is the longest running film festival in the world, celebrating its 70th edition in 2013.

As early as in 1948, the International Catholic Film Office, better known for its French acronym OCIC, was invited for the first time by the Festival to form an international jury, the first ever to be present in the Mostra. OCIC juries gave way to SIGNIS juries in 2001, when SIGNIS, the World Catholic Organization for Communication, was created. Therefore, 2013 marks the 65th anniversary of the presence of OCIC-SIGNIS juries in Venice.

This year the SIGNIS Jury was formed by Luis García Orso (Mexico), President, Massimo Giraldi (Italy), Secretary, and Walter Chikwendu Ihejirika (Nigeria), Valerio Sammarco (Italy) and Gustavo Andújar (Cuba), members.

The SIGNIS Award went to the film Philomena , of Stephen Frears (United Kingdom), a film about an elderly woman who has fought during all her life to find her son, taken from her and given in adoption by the nuns of the convent where she was abandoned by her family after becoming pregnant. In its citation, the jury explains that the Award was given to the film “for its vibrant and touching portrait of a woman whose faith sets her free. In her search for the truth, she is further liberated from the burden of the injustice done to her, when she overcomes it with forgiveness”.

Philomena was widely greeted by critics and audiences, and went on to receive the award of the official jury of the Festival to the best screenplay, as well as the award of the Interfilm jury. It is particularly interesting that, apart from obtaining the Catholic and Protestant awards, it received the award of the Italian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, in a striking demonstration that cinema is indeed polysemous.

The Jury also decided to give a Commendation to the film Ana Arabia , of Amos Gitai (Israel), “for demonstrating, with this brilliant example of filmmaking excellence, in line with the masters of oral tradition, how cinema can be a powerful instrument of hope, opening further roads to coexistence and dialog”. The film, about the relations between Israelis and Palestinians in Israel, features a single-shot sequence lasting the whole film.

During the Festival, Amos Gitai also received the Robert Bresson Award, presented by Ente dello Spettacolo, the Italian member of SIGNIS, with the support of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council, presented the award, which honors film directors whose work, of proven artistic excellence, is firmly committed in the promotion of peace and human values.