SIGNIS East Asia Film Seminar on Pro-life “Listening to a Silent Life”

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Macau: (By Catherine Wong/ SIGNIS HONG KONG) – The challenges we are facing in this modern, mediated society in regards to the perceptions on the basic values of life were highlighted and discussed at the recent SIGNIS East Asian Film Seminar 2011. It was a 2-day-long seminar in Macau with special screenings and Cine-forum on the American film <Juno> and animation <Horton Hears a Who!>.

The seminar “Listening to A Silent Life”, raised the curtain on 26 November by screening <Horton Hears a Who!> at Cineteatro Macau downtown. In fact, the cinema is owned and operated by the Macau diocese. It is one of the leading cinemas in Macau that equipped with the most advanced digital projector for 3D screenings.

Nearly hundred people, most of them were children, accompanied by their teachers attended the film-show. On the screening of <Juno>, we were honored to have the presence of The Most Reverend Jose Lai, the Bishop of Macau. They all enjoyed the film very much as the screening house was full of laughter.

As we know, Japanese films and TV series are very powerful and popular in Asia. Erika Ukai, a Japanese film producer explained the transition of the perception on abortion from Edo Jidai (1603) to Japanese society nowadays. In Japan, it is illegal to have an abortion. And, the blames and responsibility of premarital pregnancy usually bore by females. Schools are conservative in promoting sex education as girls and boys are given sexual knowledge separately in order to avoid any embarrassment.

Marriages with pregnancy are commonly found not only in the entertainment business, but also among the youth. Clips from popular Japanese TV dramas and films have been shown. The presentation was followed by a very enthusiastic open floor discussion.

Dr. Dominic Yung, a film scholar as well as the director of Hong Kong Catholic Social Communications Office introduced the latest prolife audio visual materials to the participants. The standpoint on prolife by our Holy Father was recognized and explained thoroughly.

Sr. Mary Juliana Suzanne Devoy, RGS (Macau), the director of Good Shepherd Centre in Macau shared with us her experience in the front line with the pregnant teens. Being a professional social worker, Sr. Devoy has pioneered the provision of residential care by setting up the crisis centre to abused women, single parents and children, as well as pregnant teens in Macau since 1990. Sr. Devoy explained that in Chinese traditions, it was a shame for Chinese got pregnant before marriage. Parents may opt to hide their pregnant daughters at home, or even force them undergo abortion regardless of the dangerous consequences. Yet, the existing laws in Macau which may also hinder the adoption of the unwanted child.

Francisco Lio, assistant director of the Macau Diocesan Social Communications Centre analyzed the theme from legal aspect, provided participants with information on the existing laws and ordinances related to abortion in Macau. Questions on the boundary between legal, moral and humanity were discussed, and clarifications were made on the floor.

Fr. Peter Chong, Vicar General of Macau diocese shared with us his insights on the film <Juno>. He compared the personality of the leading protagonist, Juno MacGuff, with the teenagers nowadays. “Though rebellious and in a rough manner, Juno MacGuff is more mature and responsible than other adults in the film”, he commented.

The seminar was ended by the blessings from the Most Reverend Jose Lai, bishop of Macau. He appreciated and encouraged the participants to recognize the importance on prolife theme, to respect and promote this basic value in our daily lives.

The seminar is sponsored by SIGNIS ASIA, co-organized by SIGNIS Hong Kong and SIGNIS Macau. It is considered as a continuous project, contest for short films on the same prolife themes are expected to launch in a later time. In fact, this was the second SIGNIS East Asia film seminar as the previous was held in 2008 with the theme on the depiction of family values in East Asian films.

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