For the second consecutive year, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the East Venezuela Union Mission celebrated a film festival. This year’s gathering featured more than a dozen short films at the Casa del Artista in Caracas on August 26. More than 400 people gathered to view the films, which fell under the drama, videoclip, and documentary categories.
The film festival, coined as UVO Films 2023, saw 17 entries from 14 production teams hailing from different parts of the eastern region showcase their films under the theme “Fundamental Beliefs in the Bible,” organizers said.
Abel Márquez, executive producer for Hope Channel Inter-America, congratulated church leaders and organizers in the East Venezuela Union for holding the only film festival of such large scope across the Inter-American Division (IAD). In his keynote address, Márquez, who also serves as IAD communication director, said, “In this 21st century, the methods of traditional evangelism — door to door canvassing, evangelistic series — are still valid, but a person who might not be reached by an evangelistic crusade could feel touched by some of our audiovisual productions.” The call is for everyone to do their part, Márquez said. “We are called to tell the world that Jesus is coming soon.”
The day before the festival, a special training and spiritual session was held for media producers, where Márquez emphasized that God appreciates the invisible and eternal more than the visible and passing. He encouraged them to put their passion to work in fulfilling the mission of sharing the gospel in the various effective forms available at their fingertips. “The church has invested extensive funds so that we can produce art, television, films, and radio to testify to others that God does exist,” Márquez said.
After showcasing the films, leaders announced this year’s winners. These included “Seconds,” from VM Ministries, winner of the best drama, which is about a young person who decided to leave God; “Everything Belongs to Him,” by the Redención musical group, winner of the best videoclip, a short piece on Christian stewardship; and “Returning to God,” by the South Venezuela Mission, as the best documentary, which is based on stories of faithful stewards who have seen miracles in their lives.
“Moving others to learn about Jesus in the times that we are living today is our objective for making films,” said Jorge André Diaz, production assistant for Hope Channel Inter-America and screenwriting and film production professor at Montemorelos University in Mexico.
Among film experts in Venezuela who spoke was Luis Carlos Hueck, who congratulated organizers and participants for the event. “I am so happy that you moved up to a higher level this year,” Hueck said during his second visit to this festival.
Edgar Rocca, a successful cinematographer in Venezuela, also thanked organizers for inviting him again and congratulated church leaders for supporting audiovisual arts.
Cinematographer Rubén Serrano congratulated participants for their creative short films. “This is one of the most blessed events of the year, and I am always available to collaborate and support,” he said.
As the event ended, Lenny Hernández, communication director of the East Venezuela Union, thanked all the participants who made the festival a better event than the previous one, and encouraged them to start coming up with ideas for next year’s festival.
“Far more important than this event is that everything you produce can have a message that God is personally talking to each viewer,” Hernández said. “If Jesus is not the engine of that film you are part of, it will not be worth it.”
Luis Paredes, president of the East Venezuela Union, congratulated each participant for their contribution in carrying a powerful message of Jesus’ love in their productions. “Little by little we are improving the level of films; I dream that soon, many of those productions can be featured on Hope Channel Inter-America,” Paredes said.
The film festival stands out as a pioneer of its kind throughout Inter-America, Márquez said.
“This event has played a pivotal role in providing a platform for church members to brainstorm creative ideas and experiment with new means of sharing the message,” Márquez said. “We are working with the union so that some of the most outstanding productions can be produced in formats to be shown on Hope Channel Inter-America.”