Message to the Festival Visions du Réel Nyon

Celebrating the 50th Festival Anniversary. By Marianne Ejdersten, WCC Director of Communication


On the occasion of the reception of INTERFILM and SIGNIS for the Interreligious Jury of the Visions du Réel on Sunday, 7th April, 2019, Marianne Ejdersten, Director of Communication of the World Council of Churches (WCC), directed a message reflecting the connections between culture, film, politics and church to the visitors of the festival.

Friends and film-lovers,

Thank you very much for the invitation to celebrate with you. Being here with you tonight in Nyon marks for me the importance of film as the prophetic voice. With the motto "50 years of freedom, 50 years of openness, 50 years of film", the Festival Visions du Réel celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019.

And it is at moments like these that I think with enormous gratitude about the role of culture. And about film, which reflects people's fates so well; tells stories that have not yet been told; documents and compiles. The story of us, of what came before and what is to come.

Violence, racism and nationalism are tightening their grip in the world at the moment. Authoritarian leaders are stepping forward and presenting simple solutions to complex problems. Fundamental conditions for a democracy, such as respect for facts, freedom of the press and the equal value of all people, are ignored.

We are living in a multi-cultural world. The background, history, custom and culture are all different from one country to the other. Only by learning from each other, can the culture of each country can make its own advancement. Films or movies are one aspect of a country's culture.

They reflect the real life and the imagination of its peoples. Films give enjoyment, thrills or excitement to people. The art of making movies is also progressing every day. The WCC and the WACC are proud of their long-standing involvement with INTERFILM and SIGNIS and are grateful for their professionalism and dedication.

Communication for justice and peace reveals backgrounds and contexts, listens to all sides, exposes hidden agendas and highlights peace initiatives, regardless of religion, sex and gender – no matter their origin.

Communication is also vital in confronting threats to life. It affirms life by promoting truth-telling, fairness, participation, security issues, dialogue, openness and inclusion. We all have a responsibility to speak out against violence, to ensure that women and men, boys and girls, are safe from rape and violence in homes, schools, work, streets – in all places in our societies.

Prophetic communication via culture or film opens alternative horizons not limited to the perspectives imposed by the dominant culture, and empowers individuals and communities to tell their own stories and to craft their images and gestures. Communication is also a peace-building tool.

It's far too easy to lose hope in life and the world. But that's not an option. We therefore need to seek strength and protect ourselves by laughing more, crying more, exposing ourselves more to challenges. We need to let our world be turned upside down more often. Quite simply, we need more strong and prophetic films.

Finally, I would like to emphasise that many of us need to use our various positions and platforms to work to enable film. Film criticism and lively public discussion of all forms of film have an important role to play. Healthy film criticism is one of the essential conditions for developing film as an art form and an understanding of film and the role it plays in society.

With these words I would like to wish you the best of luck and let’s continue with our prophetic voice for justice and peace for all.

Marianne Ejdersten
Director of Communication
World Council of Churches
Vice President WACC Europe