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Church’s November traditions explored at film festival

By Kaelanne Jordan
Email: mediarelations.camsel@catholictt.org

The traditions of the Catholic Church—All Saints’, All Souls’, as well as other holidays like Divali are being explored in a series of videos by the Film and Folklore Festival (FFF) during the month of November.

According to the Festival’s founder, Leslie Ann Wills-Caton, the series is part of the Festival’s ongoing mission in promoting and preserving the continuation of folk traditions and showcasing the relevance of cultural stories.

Launched in 2019, the FFF is an event festival in Trinidad and Tobago which invites persons to experience a unique and interactive experience in folklore storytelling comprised of music, spoken word, art, language, food, and film.

Speaking to Catholic News, Wills-Caton explained “my pet peeve is that we follow everything foreign. There is an obsession with vampires, dragons and zombies. We get caught up with the foreign folklore, traditions and beliefs and oftentimes disregard our own.”

While the month of November is synonymous with Halloween, All Saints’, All Souls’ and Divali, there is little understanding of its origins and why it is celebrated.

“…Our intention is to document and share information on our local, cultural, traditional and religious holidays. We will do something on the rituals because it’s very informative….We realised that when we spoke to the young people, they did not know about All Saints’ and All Souls’.…”

Wills-Caton shared that Fr Robert Christo, parish priest at St Dominic’s RC, Penal and the Archdiocese of Port of Spain’s Vicar for Communication “came on board and he just nailed it”.

Fr Christo’s role, she explained, was to provide in depth insight on the traditions and its significance within the Catholic Church.

The five episodes available are on: All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, the concepts of a wake, and cleaning of a cemetery.

The Festival plans on inviting the public to submit their stories on how they experience local traditions sometime next year.

The intent, she outlined is “to just let people know they are not alone in how they celebrate certain festivals and rituals and to keep it alive. ……and a lot of times because they now can access YouTube and Facebook, and Netflix, we are losing who we are.”

Wills-Caton remarked “It’s been good. I’m hearing so far Fr Christo is vibes. In their words, he’s good to listen to and because he speaks in a way that captures you….so far it has been amazing,” she said.


Evangelising the culture

In sharing his role in the series, Fr Christo explained that he chose to do a “traditional perspective from a Catholic perspective” on the traditions of All Saints’, All Souls’ Day, and Halloween.

“It’s almost like apologetics (the religious discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse),” he said.

In a two-minute video posted November 1, Fr Christo is seen in a cemetery explaining All Souls’ Day. He began, “There are so many days in the year…so the Church says in the month of November, we have some unsung, unknown, unrecognised people who lived heroic lives. And we want to put that whole month for the sick, the poor, for the dead…”

Fr Christo reminded that this production marked the second time the local Catholic Church was spotlighted at a film festival.

Chronicled in the short film ‘The Pursuit of Truth @125’ premiered Saturday, September 22, 2018 at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, MovieTowne. The two-part, 30-minute documentary celebrated the journalistic, historical, and religious value of Catholic News for the past 125 years.

The first of the two-part documentary, Part One: from 1892 to 1990 (the second is Part Two: 1990–2018), was accepted for the T&T Film Festival 2018.

Fr Christo said he is excited the videos can be used as an evangelical tool proclaiming Christ in our Caribbean culture.

ALL videos are available for viewing via the FFF’s Facebook page

The Festival also runs another local programme titled ‘Street light stories’ where elderly persons tell their stories of folklore traditions e.g. Papa Bois, under a streetlight, also available on Facebook.