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Film Festival Raises Awareness of Environment and COVID-19

-       Article: Nigel Akuani

-           Photographs: Karl David Valmonte


Port Moresby: The International Short Film Festival (ISFF20) has left many with a heightened sense of awareness to care much more for the environment and the need to take precautions in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.


Held on Saturday 10th October at the Paradise Cinema in Waigani, the ISFF20 had as its theme, ‘Keep It Clean. Go Green’, and premiered short captivating films created by school and university students from Papua New Guinea. There were a hundred people present for the celebration.


Among those present were Sir John Cardinal Ribat MSC, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Port Moresby; Priests, Religious, Brothers, Principals of the various schools; friends and family; and representatives from the Australian High Commission and Caritas Australia. Journalists from various media organisations were also present to provide media coverage of the event. 

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Organized by the Social Communications Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNGSI, the festival was facilitated by the Commission’s Secretary Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb, and the SOCOM team. Ms Sheryll Isoaimo, Teacher and Media coordinator of Jubilee Catholic Secondary School, Hohola animated the audience with song, dance, prayer and reflection.


Cardinal Ribat congratulated the students for their hard work and dedication toward creating the films and urged for more engagement of young people to create a positive change for society. “You are the future of our country, and many young people today need similar programs to guide them and give them formation and a direction for their lives,” he said.


Dr Catherine Nongkas, appreciated the efforts of the young people and encouraged them to raise awareness and act on environmental issues. Ms Elizabeth Aribi, Youth Secretary of CBCPNGSI, said the content created and shown by the students in their videos were genuine and relatable as they depicted the reality faced by many people in the country. “Local content is what is needed, and in the films the students did focus their stories on issues and current practices affecting the country,” she said. 


“I wish that all our educational institutions in the country should have such a program, where students should present to the society, addressing issues at all levels, like what you guys have done. As you all presented in your video productions, the simple message is let’s act now, which you all acted very well in the productions of your movies,” stated Br Luke Warvanuk, De La Salle. 


Speeches and sharing were also made by students highlighting their experiences during the MES. Alison Shangkei, a Grade Twelve student of Caritas Technical Secondary School, said that the Prayer and Reflection session of the MES helped bring her closer to God and the Christians values and practices that need to be practiced. “I am grateful to have been part of the MES because it has helped me to spiritually grow and to show care for all creation as how God intended us caretakers,” she said.


De La Salle, Grade Eleven student, Stanford Maddex highlighted the destruction of the environment and its effect on our lives. Azriel Gamaindu of De La Salle Secondary School, said that the MES sessions gave him the knowledge and skills to effectively use the various forms of media to shed light on societal issues. “After attending the MES sessions, I have made it part of my responsibility to use the skills I have acquired to encourage and empower others in the fight against COVID-19 and the protection of the environment,” he said.


An official cutting of cake to commence the day’s program and the sharing of light snacks gave the participants an opportunity to interact with each other at the commencement of the program. 


Certificates of participation were given to the students who were present for every session, while tokens of appreciation were given to the MES Animators and Media Personnel. 


Prizes were awarded in two categories: Top films created during MES, and Top films for the Laudato Si Competition.The awarding of prizes was as follows:


MES Films:

1st Prize: De La Salle Secondary School - The Talking Tree

2nd Prize: La Salle Technical College - Let’s Keep it Clean

3rd Prize: St Charles Lwanga - I care for the Earth


Laudato Si Film Competition:

1st Prize: Jordan Charlehand - Our Common Home

2nd Prize: Christ the King Parish, Youth Ministry – Seeds passed on


The seven participating schools were: Caritas Technical School, De La Salle Secondary School, Don Bosco Technical School, Don Bosco Technological Institute, Jubilee Catholic Secondary School, La Salle Technical College, and St Charles Lwanga Secondary School. Two other schools were unable to make it to the event.


The ISFF20 Kit is available at the SOCOM office, Gordons. The resources can be used to bring about awareness in youth groups, amongst students as well as animators. 


The occasion was approved by the State of Emergency Controller and was celebrated in accordance with the COVID-19 safety measures in place.

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