The Mother Teresa Film Festival in Cambodia

Phnom Penh. To close my Saturday evening I went to the Sorya Shopping Mall, that smart modern building just few meters at the south of the Central Market. The idea was to watch a movie. There was outside a music promotional concert and inside the mall plenty of fashion youth going up and down the escalators. I confess that there were not much attractive movies for me this time, but there was something out of common: the film of Mother Teresa.

There was something even odder: the entrance was free in a country where you have to pay even to stroll around Wat Phnom.

It was a part of the so called Mother Teresa International Film Festival 2010, an activity organized by some Catholic organizations, especially from Calcutta. I was kindly invited to see the movie by the Cambodian Church Social Communication team (CSC.)

There was also another especial fact: the movie was completely talked in Khmer. The voices belong to CSC and it was a real professional work to admire. Then, there were very few persons in the place.

After watching the movie where you can appreciate the genesis of the figure of what means Mother Teresa of Calcutta, one of the CSC came with a camera to ask me some questions. He asked me what I think is the meaning of Mother Teresa for a society like Cambodia. I want to share the answer here:

The movie shows a great model of social commitment. A woman that being loyal to the prescriptions of her religion, opens her heart to the poor in the best practice of tolerance and simplicity. Then to me is very meaningful that this story of Mother Teresa is shown just in the heart of this mall, a castle of materialism and consume. Few people were inside watching the movie, while I could see more than 300 hundred young persons receiving the messages of the promotional concert, selling the idea to our young Cambodian generations that happiness is behind a cell phone, a motorbike, an expensive car, a sexy figure and a lot of money. Then, at the side of that spectacular concert of high volume music and shining lights, a poor mother on the ground with her child asking 100 riels for eat.

It is very meaningful of course. The symbol of it is a very deep one. Our Cambodian youth need to know models as her, as a Ghandi, as a Don Bosco, as a Gosinanda, those persons who were able to sacrifice themselves to give the hand to the needed.

Most meaningful is that the Sorya theater charged the CSC in order to show the movie, which entrance was free. Everything is money in this country, even to give an educative gift to our own children and youth. In what the Sorya theater will use the money they collected from CSC in order to show the movie of a sister that worked for the poor waiting nothing in exchange?

We need more Mother-Teresas in a country like Cambodia, where we forget terms like charity, compassion, karuna… tolerance, peace… And we have many around us, working in silence for the poor and the needed, like this Sisters of Charity and their orphanages, their care for victims of HIV and abuse. They work in silence, but their action reaches the heavens, even higher than the skyscrapers of our ambitions.

The film’s title is In the Name of God’s Poor, 1997, directed by Kevin Connor and it has 85 minutes. It will be shown in Sorya theater until tomorrow Sunday and it will be in Siem Reap City next week.

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