Rico, a short film produced by the South American Division of the Adventist Church, and Fathers, an award-winning project of the Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) in Europe, were recently screened at the UK Christian Film Festival (UKCFF) in Brixton, November 15-17. At the end of the festival, Rico had won two awards, including in the Best Short Film and Best Director categories.
Submissions to the festival came from several countries around the world, including Brazil, England, United States, Thailand, Japan, Sweden, Spain, and Switzerland. The jury, made up of a collection of Christian media professionals, published the list of 38 Official Selections earlier in October. Then, 26 movies were chosen to be screened during the festival, November 15-17, at Whirled Cinema in London.
Fathers, the Documentary
Fathers, a warm-hearted documentary showing how different and yet similar fathers are worldwide, was screened on November 16. “The films submitted this year were of excellent quality with a real creative force on display,” Paul Syrstad, filmmaker and event organizer, said. “Some of these films, both documentary and narrative, tackle extremely heavy themes, and they do so with real tact and grace. We love the wide variety of styles this year.” A viewer at the festival also shared his enthusiasm, adding that Fathers seeks to counteract a lot of negative messages out in the world right now about men and their role in society with stories that are relevant and easy to relate to.
The documentary is the brainchild of the GAiN Europe network and was directed by Adrian Duré, a producer and filmmaker at Hope Media Europe. In the past two years, the film received more than 10 recognitions and one award at the Religion Today Film Festival 2019. “The most satisfying part is to see the potential we have as a network,” Duré said. “To see that with clear goals and a clear work structure it is possible to produce a high-quality film production, with a relevant content, and a real low budget.”
Producing the documentary involved an international team with contributions ranging from Cuba to Australia. “The inter-cultural component is the essence of the network film productions,” Duré said. “Fathers was recorded and produced in six different countries by six different production teams! It is a huge logistic challenge, especially when working remotely. But, with clear communication and trust in your production teams, everything is possible!”
When asked what is the main message he would like viewers to remember, Duré said that “being a father is a gift from God. But it’s also a ‘school’ and a great opportunity to learn. It does not matter if we live in Asia, South America, Africa, or Europe. The values in our families are the same.”
Rico, the Movie
Inspired by a true story and depicting to some extent the service provided by Adventist Prison Ministries, the 29-minute film Rico: He Had (Almost) Everything addresses issues such as violence, forgiveness, and hope. It shows that everyone deserves a second chance, producers said.
Rico takes place in Vidigal, one of the hills in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where Rico, a crime boss, is involved in a tragedy that changes the whole story of his family and several other people in the community.
The media often report the problem of prison overcrowding. Still, little attention is given to how to reintegrate those coming from prison and to support the inmates’ families. It is estimated that Brazil currently has almost 800,000 people in jail, but it is not known how many people are directly affected by that issue.
Producers said that Rico also brings a very realistic look at the problem of violence. The film pays tribute to those innocents who were victims of armed conflicts between police forces and suspects. “The film also seeks to foster empathy for those who live in risk areas and lost family members in these situations,” they said.
But the film also delves into theological themes, producers said, by stressing the connection between forgiveness and hope. It shows God as the source of forgiveness. The film also shows how the support of friends and family is essential to help people make positive choices.
“The character Rico serves as an analogy of the spiritual situation of every human being,” they said. “Wrong human attitudes caused the death of the innocent son of God. But the love revealed in divine forgiveness constrains us, restores us, and gives us hope for a future.”
The film was produced by Magic Studio, which already produced other films for Feliz7Play. Director Rômulo Antônio sought to combine quality in photography with deep social and spiritual reflections. Once again, the partnership of the producer with actor and screenwriter Josias Duarte (Rico) worked to the advantage of the production, critics said. The same can be said about the performance of actors Dudu Oliveira (Thiago), Aline Borges (Rita), and Gustavo Novaes (Anjo).
Rico is available in Portuguese on Feliz7Play, the Adventist Church’s streaming platform.