I didn’t expect to be present at an event for talented and up-and-coming filmmakers in Santa Monica, since I am a film reviewer not necessarily a filmmaker. However, I received an email from one of our Sisters in Poland asking if we could represent one of our Pauline brothers from the Society of St. Paul in Poland at this annual short film festival. His film, Three in One, was selected to be screened at this festival. Since Sr. Helena Burns was in town for a film shoot on her Theology of the Body and the Media online class, she came along.
Filmmakers, film editors, actors, and film aficionados gathered on Saturday, January 13th at the Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica for the Annual Hollywood Short Film Festival. A wonderful selection of over two dozens films were lined up for the showcase. The topics and genres varied, starting with a delightful animated film Weeds that subtly speaks of the plight of the immigrant in our nation—a deeply profound reflection through light-hearted animation. Other films were short dramas dealing with breakups in relationships, including Emojinal Breakdown, reflecting on our digital culture, and ending with Never Better-A Closure Comedy that addresses how closure to a relationship is necessary but through right decisions.
Br. Wojciech Turek’s lovely documentary short film Three in One offered a beautiful reflection on the meaning and purpose of life in the midst of a very secular context of filmmakers. His film is part of a series called “Before I Pass Away.” It is the story of the 85-year-old Jan Rabizant who lives in a country town in Poland. The film begins with the question: Can one find fulfillment and enjoyment in life anywhere, or does it really depend on the person to seek and find it? Jan lives a very simple life with three main passions in the one person: bees, music, and seeking truth in the Bible. He grew up in Stalin’s time and tried ordering a Bible which was forbidden. Yet, somehow it came to him in the mail anyway and, “This book," he says, “is my life.” The beauty of the words touches him deeply and he thanks God everyday for giving him the light of Jesus. As a beekeeper he learned the beauty of nature and God’s plan for all of creation. As a self-taught violinist he feels deeply the joy that music gives to the soul. Br. Turek reflects, “For me, Three in One, is primarily a film showing that special people can live everywhere. We have them next to us. In Jan I was particularly fascinated by his constant search for the truth about life and being faithful to the truth already found.”
Using exquisitely beautiful scenery, Br. Turek portrays that fulfillment in life is not in having a lot of things, living the most technologically advanced lifestyle, or being famous. Instead, he shows that fulfillment and joy are found in being who you are and who God made you to be. It is about living passionately no matter where you find yourself. A message such as this is perhaps more poignant in our fiercely competitive and yet spiritually lost society. As Br. Turek reflects, “Jan focused on what he had and not on what was missing in his life.” This is how he found meaning and purpose--through beauty in life. Beauty attracts. Jan’s simple life is a witness to God's infinite beauty. Thanks to filmmakers like Br. Turek we are reminded of this reality and experience a little more joy and hope in the world.
Br. Turk's film Three in One: