The Table

poster-rt-2016_1In its 19th year, the Religion Today Film Festival is set to launch in Trento from 7-17 October under the title, “We all loved each other so much. Religions and gender issues.” According to the festival website, the title is an homage to Ettore Scola, and “explores the portrayal of women and the female condition in different religious contexts and the challenges of gender diversity.”

A WOC favorite, the documentary film Radical Grace is included in the festival this year, screening with Italian subtitles for the first time. Earlier this week, I was honored to speak on behalf of the film and WOC at the festival’s press conference at the prestigious Casa del Cinema (where WOW screened Pink Smoke Over the Vatican for the first time in Italy in 2011).  

As the only guest speaker, my invitation was a curious spotlight on a single film, especially in light of some of the sponsors in the crowd. Nevertheless, I spoke about the pain of the investigations and the resilience and heart of sisters who follow a higher calling of social justice, (and the masses who support them!). It was an incredible opportunity to share the organizing efforts of the Nun Justice Project and the dedication of the women behind the film, who followed Sr. Simone Campbell, Sr. Jean Hughes, and Sr. Chris Schenk (and Erin and myself — I still love this montage!) for several important years.

After I spoke, one woman in particular came up to me to share that she had followed the U.S. sisters closely during the investigations. She said although she is not a feminist, she supports the sisters. As is true around the world, the language and labeling of feminism is culturally triggering and challenging in different circumstances. The word and the movement are so central to WOC’s mission and in particular Sr. Chris’ storyline in the film, I will be curious to see how the film is received here in Italy — praying that it draws out those faith-driven feminists I have been searching for!  (I’ve written about my conversations with Italian feminists and the pitfalls of language across cultures before on the Table, here).

The screening takes place on October 13th, where I have been asked to offer short commentary to the film before what should be a stellar interfaith panel discussion: “From Eve’s point of view: Religions and gender relations.” Speakers include: Nibras Breigheche (Muslim theologian), Elena Seishini (Buddhist monk), Selene Zorzi (Catholic theologian and former nun) – in dialogue with Anna Fedele (Center for Research in Anthropology – Lisbon University Institute).

Radical Grace has screened at 45 film festivals and 80 community screenings, driving deep conversation around feminism and faith.  The film is now available for community screenings and on itunes with discussion guides for Catholic-rooted and interfaith groups on themes of  women’s equality and social justice.