For the second consecutive year, the East Venezuela Union of Seventh-day Adventists celebrated a film festival that featured over a dozen short films at the Casa del Artista in Caracas on August 26, 2023. More than 400 people gathered to view the films, which fell under either the drama, video clip, or documentary categories.
The film festival, coined UVO Films 2023, saw 23 entries through which 14 production teams from different parts of eastern Venezuela showcased their films upon the theme “Fundamental Beliefs in the Bible,” organizers said.
Abel Márquez, executive producer for Hope Channel Inter-America, congratulated church leaders and organizers in the East Venezuela Union for holding the only film festival of such a large scope across the Inter-American Division (IAD). In his keynote address, Márquez, who also serves as Communication director for the IAD, said, “In the midst of the 21st century, the methods of traditional evangelism—door-to-door canvassing, campaigns—are still valid, but perhaps a person who could not be reached by an evangelistic campaign could see some of our audiovisual productions.” The call is for everyone to do his or her part, said Márquez. “We are called to tell the world that Jesus is coming soon.”
The day before the festival, a special training and spiritual session was held for media producers, where Márquez emphasized that God appreciates the invisible and eternal more than He does the visible and passing. He encouraged them to put their passion to work in fulfilling the mission of sharing the Gospel through the various effective forms available at their fingertips. “The church has invested extensive funds so that we can produce art, television, films, and radio to testify to others that God does exist,” said Márquez.
After the films were showcased, winners of this year’s UVO Films were announced, including Seconds, from the VM Ministries, as the winner of the best drama about a young person who decided to leave God; Everything Belongs to Him, by the Redención musical group, as the winner of the best video clip on Christian stewardship; and Returning to God, by the South Venezuela Mission, as the best documentary based on faithful stewards who have seen miracles in their lives.
“[Moving] others to learn about Jesus in the times that we are living today is our objective for making films,” said Jorge André Diaz, production assistant for Hope Channel Inter-America and screenwriting and film production professor at Montemorelos University in Mexico.
Among film experts in Venezuela was Luis Carlos Hueck, who congratulated organizers and participants for the event. “I am so happy that you moved up to a higher level this year,” said Hueck during his second visit to the festival.
Edgar Rocca, a successful cinematographer in Venezuela, also thanked organizers for inviting him again and congratulated church leaders for supporting audiovisual arts.
Cinematographer Ruben Serrano congratulated all participants for their creative short films. “This is one of the most blessed events of the year, and I am always available to collaborate and support,” he said.
As the event ended, Pastor Lenny Hernández, Communication director for the East Venezuela Union, thanked all the participants who made the festival a better event than the previous one and encouraged them to start coming up with ideas for next year’s festival.
“Far more important than this event is that everything that you produce can have a message that God is personally talking to each viewer,” said Hernández. “If Jesus is not the engine of that film you are part of, it will not be worth it.”
Pastor Luis Paredes, president of the East Venezuela Union, congratulated the participants for their contributions to carrying a powerful message of Jesus’ love in their productions. “Little by little, we are improving the level of films, and I dream that soon, many of those productions can be featured on Hope Channel Inter-America,” he said.
The film festival stands out as a pioneering venture of its kind throughout Inter-America, said Márquez. “This event has played a pivotal role in providing a platform for church members to brainstorm creative ideas and experiment with new means of sharing the message. We are working with the union so that some of the most outstanding productions can be produced in formats to be shown on Hope Channel Inter-America.”
To view the featured films during UVO Films 2023, click HERE.