Act One Founder Urges Catholics to Work in Cinema

Calls for Greater Beauty in the Arts

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FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, MAY 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Barbara Nicolosi is encouraging Catholics to get involved in the arts, especially in the cinema, the "art form of our time."

The founder of Act One, a Hollywood-based organization that promotes Christian values in the entertainment industry, addressed students at Christendom College on Monday.

Nicolosi spoke about "Why Hollywood Matters," drawing on her experience as a consultant for the movie "The Passion of the Christ" and screenwriter for a new film on "Mary, Mother of the Christ," which stars Al Pacino and Peter O'Toole and will be released next year by MGM.

She asked: "Why do we love the movies so much?

"The movies are the combination of the four classical art forms: literature, performance, music, and composition. They are the art form of our time."

Nicolosi pointed out that Hollywood has become the modern patron of the arts, a role once held by the Church. She encouraged the students to get involved in the cinematic world, to "be one of the people -- out of compassion and creativity -- talking to the people of your time."

"I know you have the talent," she said. "What's keeping you back? Fear? Laziness?"

"We need to get this together," Nicolosi urged, "because it was a very bad idea that the Church not be with the arts in the 20th century."

She observed, "The art made by Christians today is not only not beautiful, but tends to be among the ugliest art that mankind is producing."

"We have sacrificed the beautiful to other things," Nicolosi added.

Deeply touching

Beauty, she said, is the combination of wholeness, harmony, and radiance.

Nicolosi continued: "That eliminates cute, pretty, facile, puerile and banal.

"If it is easy, it is not beautiful. But, if when you encounter it, something in your spirit yearns, you feel deeply touched on your most human level, you've encountered the beautiful."

She explained that a person needs three things in order to perceive beauty: sensitivity, somewhat free of prejudice and fear; intelligence, as opposed to ignorance; and imagination, to allow one's history to combine with the artist's communication.

Nicolosi recalled an example of a statue of Our Lady Queen of the Angels that she saw on a tour of the cathedral of Los Angeles. The statue was created to appear androgynous, combining features from various types and races of people.

When she commented that the statue was "kind of ugly," the tour guide responded: "The Church isn't about that anymore. The Church is about everyone feeling welcome by including them in the statue."

Nicolosi observed: "They were not going for wholeness, harmony, and radiance here. They were going for agenda, so they sacrificed the beauty because of the political point."