Priest’s documentary selected for international film festival

By: Babu Thomas
A Christian priest’s documentary film was selected for the 7th Queens International Film Festival to be held this week in New York.

The event from Nov. 12 – 15 will feature Fr Joseph J. Palackal’s 34 min film: “Kerala the Cradle of Christianity in South Asia: The Cultural Interface of Music and Religion.”

The short musical documentary is to be featured on Saturday, Nov 14, at Bennett Hall in Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.

The six million Christians in Kerala, on the southwest coast of India, follow a variety of liturgical and musical traditions some of which date back to the early Christian era. The film explores the historical embeddedness of these traditions that came about as a result of the region’s commercial, cultural, and religious interactions with the Middle East, Europe, and America.

“The narrative follows the events that led to the introduction of the Chaldean, Antiochene, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other liturgies along with the musical styles associated with them,” according to details published on the website.

“Over the centuries, these styles have become an integral part of the musical mosaic of Kerala. A renewed attempt in the recent past to interpret Christianity in Indian terms has contributed to adaptations of semi-classical and bhajan styles of music into Christian worship.”

The film documents excerpts from the current practice of chants in East Syriac, West Syriac, Latin, Sanskrit, English, and Malayalam. The film also showcases a unique performance context in which Hindu instrumental ensembles share space in a church festival, illustrating the extent of religious harmony that exists in Kerala

Drawing attention to the religious, musical, and linguistic complexity of the region, the film presents yet another reason to call Kerala, ‘God’s own Country.’ The film was officially released on Aug 2, 2008 at Kerala House in New Delhi.