Mother Teresa, arguably the most famous Kolkatan, would have been turned 100 this month. The city is getting ready to pay a grand tribute to the missionary who changed lives, helping thousands of the poor and the destitute ignored and slighted by the society live with the dignity.
A series of films that depict and the document various stages of her life and work in Kolkata and elsewhere will be screened as part of a film festival that kicks off at Nandan on August 26 her birth centenary. It includes the controversial In the name of God's poor' by Dominique Lapierre that had been objected to and its screenings disrupted in the early Nineties. But it is documentary filmmaker Ann Jeanette Petrie's film on Mother's journey across the world that is being looked forward to.
An exhibition of paintings on Mother Teresa's life and work is also on the anvil. To be held at the St Xavier's College auditorium from August 27, it will feature paintings by artists like Ritu Singh, Nemai Sengupta and Sunita Kumar among others. "A business house that has got a fabulous collection of the Mother Teresa paintings has agreed to lend us the portraits. That apart, we shall have works by young artists as well," said Father Robin Gomes, in-charge of the exhibition.
Made in 1986, Petrie's film titled Mother Teresa' is being screened in the Kolkata after a gap of about a decade. It traces her journey across the globe and features short interviews with her. The film is regarded as the only authentic chronicle of Mother's experiences.
"Petrie had travelled with her through 10 countries across four continents. She saw and filmed her closely during the period Mother had travelled the most. The film is a fantastic account of her interaction with religious and political leaders. It is, in fact, a biography on celluloid and was shot over a period of seven years," said Sunil Lucas, documentary filmmaker and chairman of the festival committee.
The sequel to the film The Legacy' will also be screened. "It depicts the latter half of her life and focuses on her spirituality," added Lucas. Other than these two, three other films from the US are part of the package. Four Indian films, two films from France and one each from the Italy, Spain, Canada and Japan will also be screened.
The Indian section comprises My Karma' by Korak Dey, The Living Legend' by Sunil Jindal, From Saint to Sainthood' by Payal Mohanka and A Call Within a Call' made by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the India.
"We felt that remembering Mother's contributions would be the best way to pay respect on her centenary. Some of these films are a wonderful document of what she stood for and how she braved all odds to help the poor," said Father Gomes. While Petrie will be in Kolkata to speak on her film, some of the other directors are also expected. Her Mother Teresa' has been screened at the Vatican, White House, Parliament House and several other important venues.
Once the three-day festival ends in Kolkata on August 29, it will travel to countries like Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam and Bangladesh. "The package of films will also be screened at the other Indian cities like Guwahati, Nagpur, Shillong, Indore and Bangalore," said Lucas.