Interfaith Film Festival Airs First of Three Films

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Torch Photo/Cecelia Germain

Priyanka Gera, Staff Writer

Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of the Interfaith Council before. They are a relatively new group on campus that was officially established last semester by Sister Nora from Campus Ministry, and three current St. John’s upperclassmen: seniors Ashley Kuehn, Syed Rizwi and junior Blondine Derosiers. This small, but engaging council works to promote St. John’s Catholic mission: “To have all diverse faiths and cultures integrate and interact in a respectful and educative environment,” Dr. Matthew Sutton, Theology professor, said.

Sister Nora, Kuehn, Rizwi and Derosiers traveled to Chicago this past spring to attend the Interfaith Youth Core Conference. This organization is a non-profit that works to “bridge differences” amongst people of different faiths and uncover common values. The St. John’s chapter of the council brought back the collaborative and inspiring ideas and values to Queens to start working towards a better tomorrow right from home.

The council meets once a week and features films, each outlining a different faith and dealing with that semester’s message. After each film, a discussion is held where you are free to voice your opinion about not only the movie, but also the intense scenes that may or may not have done justice in accurate representation of the peoples portrayed. The thought provoking questions are directed toward the meaningful themes woven through the movie to promote reflection upon how our values may coincide or differ from what we have witnessed. It is merely a safe environment to understand and learn from other people and cultures.

Sutton and Dr. Colleen Greaney, Director of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, are both active members of the Interfaith Council and were present at the festival’s screening of “The Kite Runner,” directed by Marc Forster. They led right into discussion after the film. It wasn’t a typical “what was your favorite part and why?” discussion but instead, without realizing we went so much deeper than that. We deliberated on the meaning of confusing scenes and drew from all parts of the film to explain and support our claims. Since it was such an emotional film, we felt it was necessary to bring to light moments where we could relate to the characters and cheer for them as we lived their journey with them.

“The Kite Runner” is the first of three movies to be shown this semester, the others being “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.) and “The War Room” (Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.). In addition to these films, there will be an Interfaith Dialogue Dinner next semester.

“The Council provides events that welcome kids from all faiths and religions to discuss our differences and how they make us rich,” Sister Nora said before the even started.

Not only should we accept ourselves and our values, but also those of others around us, and the Interfaith Council is the first of its kind to bring everyone together in a unique fashion such as a movie night to learn about another faith or idea, and about oneself.