Interview with West McDowell, Program Director of the festival “Finding Vince 400”:
1. How did you get involved in this project to create a new Film Festival with the central theme of charity
The charism of Saint Vincent de Paul, which recently celebrated the fourth centenary, is fascinating and terribly demanding for all Christians, just as is the Word of God: to serve God in the poor through the proclamation of the Gospel (the mission) and the support that must be given to the needy (charity), these two pillars are of unquestionable actuality, it is enough to take a walk through the heart of our city to meet the urgency of providing new answers to the new challenges of poverty. This is the reason for my commitment to the “Looking for Vicente 400” Film Festival: a challenge in the challenge, the achievement of an artistic and cultural event that speaks to the heart of the human being, accepting to translate contemporary tension into contemporary language, service to the poor, which may need new expressions to meet the needs of today’s man. That is the reason for the motto: Seeking Vincent, because I am convinced that today St. Vincent de Paul would seek new answers to new requests. As an artist and as a believer I can not avoid this challenge, in a certain sense I must also put at the service of the poor, in accordance with the precept of the Gospel, the talents God has given me.
2. Is the life of St. Vincent de Paul and his passion for charity a script that can attract young generations?
Have you ever tried volunteering? You will see many young people in the service who have found the answer to your question about the meaning of life, a concrete way of “changing the world,” which is the desire, more or less explicit, of all young people, to find a way to respond to the “call of Christ.” Saint Vincent’s passion for charity is a very current issue, both because of the urgent need to respond to the challenges of new poverty, as well as because of the concrete commitment to which all volunteers feel called, and the concretion of a help that It exceeds all barriers imposed by ideology or even religion. Yes, I believe that St. Vincent de Paul can still attract young generations: those who follow the Gospel by giving practical help to those who suffer, never go out of style, is in a sense “eternal” as the Life to which each of we are called.
3. Is the world of Hollywood compatible with a deep commitment to solidarity with the poorest?
Hollywood is a “collective name” that can mean many things: money, power, excesses … like any other human aspect, it has beautiful things and less beautiful things. Everywhere, and therefore also in Hollywood, there are men and women who are sensitive to charity and help the most unfortunate, because I am convinced that God speaks to everyone’s heart, no one is excluded. It is up to us to decide how and what to respond. In Hollywood, Paris and Rome, solidarity comes from a sensitive heart, open to the needs of the brothers.
4. How can the world of cinema and art tell stories that really touch the hearts of the public?
Art, and with it cinema, has the merit of giving men always new ways of expressing feelings. Beauty in each era is told by art through new expressive channels. This still happens today, and the challenge of this Film Festival “Finding Vince 400” is to be able to count charity today, to be able to tell the Vincentian response to globalized charity. Art is an end in itself, we know it well, but just as well we know that art can move hearts to the contemplation of beauty or can help to understand a message, in this case that of charity, through a universal language In our case, with this demonstration we seek a new universal language to give the answers that charity in the 21st century demands.
5. The Film Festival also wants to host the artistic creations of the youngest, what role do they play in the transformation of the world?
Beauty will save the world, we read in Dostoevsky. We are aware of this and for this reason we want to stimulate creativity on the theme of the globalization of charity. “Finding Vince 400” is an invitation to create stories and spread the message of globalized charity through the art of modern narration. What is more beautiful than returning a smile, feeding the hungry, dressing the naked, etc. etc.! What is more beautiful than an act of gratuitous charity! The world is hungry for this beauty that first flows from the heart of man.