2009 Culture of Life Movie Awards

Winners Include "Juno" and "Bella"

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MADRID, Spain, FEB. 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- This is the week for movie awards, and the results are out for the best picture, actors and screenplay, from the perspective of a culture of life.



The Madrid archdiocesan weekly magazine, Alpha and Omega, distributed by the newspaper ABC, gives special awards for the production of major films in defense of life.

The Alpha and Omega awards highlighted five pro-life films released in 2008, four related to abortion and one to euthanasia: "Juno"; "Bella"; "4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days"; "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"; "The Princess of Nebraska."

The magazine director, Miguel Angel Velasco, said: "Given the tendency to reward movies that represent the 'culture of death', [we] wanted to reward others that, in one way or another, defend the 'culture of life.'"

The awards announcement stated: "At a time when the dignity of the weakest human beings is trampled with impunity by politicians and legislators of numerous civilized countries, movies seem to emerge that run against the current, celebrating the positive value of life, even in circumstances of extreme pain."

It continued: "And these are not militant, discursive or reactionary films, nor are they directed by pro-life leaders. They are heartfelt and poignant human stories that give testimony of the simple joy of living."

International issues

The statement also commented on movies such as "Oh, Jerusalem" and "The Kite Runner" that give a "hopeful look at the most worrisome international conflicts" and treat the issues "with intelligence," with the goal of uniting people rather than dividing them.

Similarly, judges considered that movies such as "In the Valley of Elah" give a critique on the new forms of war and military intervention, separated from moral codes. Other movies, such as "The Wave," can alert us to populist and authoritarian temptations that can easily flourish in countries facing a moral, economic and cultural crisis."

Juan Orellana, film critic and one of the judges for the awards, says that, these movies "confirm the good health of the American independent cinema, the German cinema and animated film."

Orellana pointed out that there is now an exciting mix of family films. In 2008, he explained, several films defended novel and original forms of life and there are others -- like "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" -- that have managed to grasp "the gravity of the historical moment" in which we find ourselves, and offer a response of hope and transcendence.

The film awarded best Christian picture to "Guadalupe," a family drama that shows the power of the image of the Virgin Mary. A scientific study of the image becomes a journey of personal discovery for a family that must confront its past.

Great works

Auxiliary Bishop César Franco of Madrid, who chaired the judges committee, lauded the good movies as "works of the human spirit that address the human question."

He continued: "There are two ways to make movies, just like there are two ways to live:" one "open to the values of the individual," and the other closed. Man will always do great works in all fields, and humanity will bear fruit in works of art, he said -- "man is called to beauty."

The prelate stated that viewing movies can be "a catharsis" that brings a person "to the depths of human beauty."

Other winners of the 2009 Alpha and Omega awards are:

Best Film, Best Screenplay: "Juno," director Jason Reitman and screenplay writer Diablo Cody
Best Film, Best Director for Life: "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Julian Schnabel

Best Leading Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"
Best Supporting Actor: Ciarán Hinds, "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day"
Best Leading Actress: Tammy Blanchard, "Bella"
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Clarkson, "Lars and the Real Girl"

Best Cinematography: Sergey Trofimov and Rogier Stoffers, "Mongol"
Best Film With Christian Theme: "Guadalupe," director Santiago Parra
Best Soundtrack: Alberto Iglesias, "The Kite Runner"

Best Family Film: "Horton Hears a Who!," directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino
Best Historical Drama: "O, Jerusalem," directed by Chris Kraus

Best Educational Film: "The Wave," director Dennis Gansel
Best Animated Film: "Wall-E," director Andrew Stanton