Catholic schools celebrate linguistic diversity through film

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9 November 2022

winners of the film festivalSt Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School, Armstrong Creek, was announced today as the inaugural winner of the Narrm Multilingual Film Festival for Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS).

The school’s four-minute winning entry titled The Hope of a Smile tells the story of young French speaker Francois and his trepidation at starting at a new school knowing very little English.

Francois’s fears, however, are quickly allayed when he learns that many of his peers at St Catherine’s also come from backgrounds where English is an additional language, including native speakers of Bosnian, Punjabi, German, Cambodian, Turkish and Tagalog, to name a few.

Young filmmakers from across the Archdiocese were invited to submit a short multilingual film responding to the theme – An Act of Hope – in either their first or home language/s, or a language they are learning at school, and include English in some way.

In presenting the award to St Catherine’s students and teachers, MACS Team Leader for Cultural Diversity Catherine Devine said: ‘We see in this heart-warming film a powerful example of a community that embraces difference and diversity – a community that reflects gospel values of welcome, hospitality and love.

‘The patron saint of your school, Catherine of Siena, said in one of her letters 600 years ago: “reflect that God requires nothing else of us except that we show our neighbours the love we have for God”, and that is exactly what you have shown in this beautiful film that inspires us to extend friendship and respect to others. Keep telling your stories and the stories of your school community’, she said.

MACS Team Leader for Literacy Margaret Vingerhoets said the theme of the festival was aimed at helping shine a light on the relationship between multilingualism and literacy development because ‘we know literacy skills in one language can enhance development of literacy in a second or subsequent language’.

‘In Literacy at MACS, we hold the view that linguistic diversity should be actively cherished for the wealth of personal and educational benefits it brings.

‘The winning film was chosen because of the skilled way it used multiple languages within storytelling and the way it embraced the theme.

‘Today we saw young filmmakers celebrate their linguistic diversity and I congratulate them all for their contribution’, Ms Vingerhoets said.

Acting Executive Director Dr Edward Simons says MACS schools seek to empower students by celebrating differences and providing educational opportunities aimed at eliminating discrimination and focusing on the full flourishing of all learners.

‘This film festival is one way we can demonstrate how we value language diversity in our schools, and help understand and promote the way multiple languages contribute to all aspects of learning and school life’, he said.

The winning students and their teachers were rewarded today with a special screening of the film and a tour of ACMI (formerly Australian Centre for the Moving Image), Melbourne’s museum of screen culture and art in Federation Square.

View the winning film entry below: