HONG KONG Documentary on Cardinal Zen wins international award


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HONG KONG (UCAN) -- A Catholic journalist's documentary on Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun's involvement in social justice issues has won an award in an international religious film festival.

Doris Law Suk-yi, a journalist working for Hong Kong Cable Television (HKCTV), beat five other competitors in the "Religion and Society" category at the 2009 Religion Today Film Festival held in several Italian cities. A special jury of journalists from Trento, northern Italy, said her documentary, "Zen's Way," was the best interpretation of the complex relationship between religion and society. It was the only East Asian film to win an award at the event, held from Oct. 14-24.

The 46-minute documentary follows Cardinal Zen from 2007 until early 2009 as he goes about his daily life and activities in fighting for the rights of social minorities. The cardinal retired in April.

The documentary also includes scenes of Shanghai where the outspoken Church leader was born and the site of the former Salesian seminary he joined.

Law says the film demonstrates the prelate's concern for society.

Before his retirement, Cardinal Zen was known for being vocal on social issues, daring to criticize the human rights record in China and in particular the situation of the Church in China. He also fought for the right-of-abode for mainland-born children of Hong Kong residents and called for greater democracy in Hong Kong.

His efforts in fighting for religious freedom for Catholics on the mainland was "hardly a rewarding act, but as a prophet it is the Way of Cross that he must walk," said Law.

Law said the cardinal's actions moved her. During Easter 2005, she and her husband became Catholics.

She said the award belongs not to her but "to the oppressed brothers and sisters in mainland China, the underprivileged and those who fight for their rights."

Dominic Yung Yeuk-yu, director of the Hong Kong Diocesan Audio-Video Centre, believes the film won partly due to Cardinal Zen's fame, noting that many people know him not for his religious background, but because of his vocal support for the underprivileged.

The Religion Today Film Festival, begun in 1997, is the first such festival to highlight religious films. This year's theme was "Born from Above. New Life in Faith."