|The Tony Blair Faith Foundation has announced four new judges for Faith Shorts, the Foundation’s global film competition for young people: Reverend Dr Rick Warren, senior Pastor at Saddleback Church, California, Duncan Kenworthy OBE, producer of acclaimed films including Notting Hill and Love Actually, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster and former President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and Nick Jones, founder of the Soho House Group, supporter of filmmakers worldwide.
These four esteemed judges are the latest addition to a high-profile judging panel that includes: Oscar-winning producer Lord David Puttnam, Hollywood stars Hugh Jackman and Jet Li, Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and British actress Dawn French. Calling for entries from around the world, the competition encourages young people to express what their faith means to them in their own words and gives them an opportunity to challenge some of the presumptions that exist about religion. Young people aged between 14 and 27 are invited to submit a short film showing how faith impacts their life and the lives of those around them. The deadline for entries is 9th July.
Faith Shorts is designed to be as accessible as possible to young people all over the world, regardless of their background. Prospective applicants who didn't have access to a camera had the opportunity to win one to make their film. This element of the competition recently closed and cameras were sent to young people in Sierra Leone, Kenya, South Africa, Pakistan, Serbia, India, South Africa and Palestine. Films can be uploaded using YouTube, one of the most straightforward and widely used sites for sharing and watching original films.
Faith Shorts asks young people to share their personal stories and provide insights to their world by expressing what faith means to them. These stories counter the notion that religion is only a source of conflict. For the last two years Faith Shorts has been flooded with stories of solidarity, strength and solace. Since the competition launched in 2010 the shortlisted films from the previous years have attracted thousands of views and been used as teaching resources globally.
Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and Faith Shorts Judge said:
“I am delighted to announce the launch of Faith Shorts 2012. Now in its third year, this global short film competition provides young people with a creative and innovative opportunity to showcase their personal views about faith, their ideals and the world around them. More than ever before, filmmaking has the power to expand the reach of religious ideas to new horizons. But film also has the power to shape public perspectives on religious traditions. Films that feature faith often focus on religious conflict and division, leaving out scores of positive stories of co-existence and co-operation.
“Modern technological innovations have allowed citizens access to journalism and filmmaking. The world is at an important juncture, where each day people make decisions about whether to be open or closed minded about difference. It is my hope that this competition continues to nurture a generation of young people who embrace and respect difference rather than fear it.”
Faiths Shorts Judge Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman encourages young people to embrace the challenge: “This year, as events around the world have shown, the ability to give young people a voice and a platform with which to tell their story, is incredibly important. I am really looking forward to judging the entries – what impressed me last year was the quality of the insights, the skill of the storytelling and the ability and openness of the young people to share their perspectives with us. I hope Faith Shorts 2012 will continue to break down barriers and give young people a chance to be heard.”
Faith Shorts winner, Esteban Pedraza, 21 year old NYU Film School from Nashville, said:
“I entered Faith Shorts because I wanted to make a good and honest film about how faith impacted on the people that I love. The opportunity to present this story of love and sacrifice to an audience of incredible judges was something I didn’t want to miss.
“Seeing the names of my favourite film directors printed on the wall outside the theatre my film was shown at was surreal and an experience I will never forget.”