One of the beautiful things about putting a film out into the world and then giving it whatever reach you can muster is that you widen your circle of friends among some eclectic groups of people around the world. This week we heard that Praying the Hours was accepted into the Iconic Images Film Festival in Lithuania where we were so pleased to learn that it was received enthusiastically. It’s such a rare and sweet experience to receive an email starting, “our most beloved director”—as one acceptance letter began—and to have signatures preceded “with love from Istanbul” or with urgings not to give up work that can bring much-needed encouragement in hard seasons. We are hoping to hear from other far-flung festivals around the world in the months to come, to see if they think their audiences will be interested in our project.
Years ago, when we were still in production, we heard from Brother James Hayes of De La Mennais Brothers/Brothers of Christian Instruction, then assigned to a community in Liverpool. As a life-long lover of film and leader in that community (now working alongside Provincial Brothers in Brittany, W. France), he became aware of our film as a result of his appreciation of one of our actors, Tim Halligan. I wrote to him at the time saying we would be happy to share the film with him when it was done. That turned out to be a long time.
It was a coincidence when I remembered his lovely letter of encouragement years later, and I wrote to him with the opening line, “you won’t believe this, but…”. I sent him the link and he watched it. Then a few months later, he watched it again. I asked his permission to repeat his comments:
“I watched your wonderful film and then re-watched it a month or so ago. What a beautiful, beautiful film. I found it thought-provoking, incredibly moving and ultimately uplifting. How lovely to also see Tim Halligan have a chance to really get into a meaty role after having always appreciated his performance in Freedom Writers. In the climactic scene where he gives the blessing, his performance went onto another level. I felt that he and the other actors really seemed touched by grace at that moment and us, the audience, too. It seemed he was no longer acting but that he’d opened himself up to God’s grace and it was genuinely flowing through him.
What a blessing you have all given us. Do let me know if the film is to be released on disc or on demand. I will be recommending it.
I passed his comments on to Tim, naturally, and now they are in communication. This is how it works, really, in the best of moments, any work of art does its job of connecting us under the most unpredictable of circumstances. We are so pleased to call a new country—and a new Brother—among our new friends.