NCC issues call for submissions to ecumenical film festival
July 11, 2006
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*
Cannes. Toronto. Tribeca. Oberlin, Ohio.
An open call has been issued for submissions to
a different type of film festival ? original
short films that focus on ecumenism and church unity.
The first-ever Oikumene Film Festival will be part of the 50th anniversary
celebration of the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches.
The event takes place July 19-23, 2007, in Oberlin.
Oikumene, a Greek word meaning “the whole inhabited earth,” was
used to describe ancient Christian councils and later was used to coin the
English word, “ecumenical,” referring to the worldwide Christian
R. Keelan Downton, who is coordinating the festival,
told United Methodist News Service the idea came about “as a result of thinking through some
creative ways to engage issues for the 50th anniversary.” So far, he
added, he’s been pleased with the positive reaction to the festival.
Downton said his own experience as a summer media
intern in 1998 at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio, “was a leap up for me in
terms of the visual arts.” Ginghamsburg has been a forward-thinking church
in its use of media and technology.
He received a doctorate from the Methodist-owned
Edgehill Theological College at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern
Ireland, and is serving as the first Faith and Order Postdoctoral Fellow
Downton would like filmmakers to be creative in
their efforts. “We want
to direct people away from a documentary style,” he said.
Six submissions, which must be under 21 minutes
long, will be shown over two nights of the anniversary celebration. “There will be some opportunities
for the filmmakers to present,” Downton said. “What we’re
encouraging is for the films to be part of the ongoing dialogue at the scholarly
A panel will select the six finalists, but it
is hoped that some of the other films submitted can be shown through the
Web site, he added. The submissions also will be collected in an archive.
The work of the Faith and Order Commission, according
to its Web site, “affirms
the oneness of the church of Jesus Christ and keeps before the churches the
Gospel call to visible unity in one faith and one Eucharist communion, expressed
in worship and in common life with Christ, in order that the world may believe.”
These issues of unity are at the heart of the
ecumenical movement, as “people
of different faiths struggle with how to relate to each other and work together
on mutual concerns in our communities, nation and world.”
Oberlin College, where the celebration will take place, is significant
because the commission traces its beginning to a 1957 Oberlin conference
on the theme “The
Nature of the Unity We Seek.” Since then, the commission and its denominational
members have worked to strengthen unity through dialogue and research on theological
For the 2007 event, the theme is “On Being Christian Together: The Faith
and Order Experience in the United States.”
The deadline for film submissions is Feb. 16, 2007. Rules and entry forms
can be found at http://www.ncccusa.org/faithandorder/oberlin2007/oikumene.html on the Web.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.