Martin Sheen Backs New Italian Festival Focusing on Poverty

The Finding Vince:400 Film Festival, inspired by Catholic Saint Vincent de Paul, will feature films that provide a new perspective on poverty and the fate of the poor.

Acclaimed actor, and devot Catholic, Martin Sheen is backing a new film festival, set to launch in Rome later this year, which will focus on the issues and challenges of poverty in the modern world.

Sheen has recorded a PSA for the event, the Finding Vince: 400 Film Festival, calling for submissions and asking people to attend the inaugural fest in Rome on October 18-21.

The festival is named for Saint Vincent de Paul, a French priest, and Catholic saint, famed for dedicating himself to the service of the poor. The festival will premiere in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Vincentian order, which aims to continue his good works. 

In his PDA Sheen, who has often linked his political activism to his Catholic faith, noted that Pope Francis has called on all the faithful to focus on the problems of poverty around the world.

“From the start of his papacy, Pope Francis has appealed to all of us to become more involved in service to the poor,” says Sheen. “Since film is the universal language of our time, it is the aim of the festival to re-harness the power of cinema to globalize charity and re-address poverty the way Saint Vincent De Paul did four centuries ago.”

The inaugural Finding Vince: 400 Film Festival will be held at the famed Castel Gandolfo in Rome and will overlap with the first days of the Rome Film Fest, which runs Oct. 18-28.

Nicknamed Vatican II, the Castel Gandolfo has been the vacation retreat of popes for centuries, and is a tourist destination the rest of the year. Pope Francis has shunned the extravagant palace for being too luxurious for his taste, much to the chagrin of locals who rely on the extra tourism income.

Submissions to the festival can be made via Film Freeway by Aug. 31. To date, more than 3,000 films have been submitted from 109 countries.

Submissions are divided into three categories: a contest for candidates under 18 to submit any form of creative expression; a screenwriting event where five winners will win a grant to produce their short films; and a competition for short or feature films. All selections will be awarded with a trip to the festival.