Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

Westfield State holds screening of interfaith film ‘The Sultan and the Saint’

Westfield State University will screen “The Sultan and the Saint,” a docudrama about Muslim-Christian peace in the middle of war. This film is based on the historic meeting between Sultan Al-Malik al-Kamil and St. Francis of Assisi. The event will take place on Thursday, April 20 at 7 p.m. at Dever Stage in Parenzo Hall. Prior to the screening, there will be a reception in the Dever Stage lobby beginning at 6 p.m.

St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al-Malik al-Kamil bucked a century of war, distrust, and insidious propaganda in search of mutual respect. They used their faiths to heal instead of fracture.  “The Sultan and the Saint” tells the story of an encounter between two of the 13th Century’s most heroic figures. Both Sultan al-Kamil and Saint Francis guided their actions by deeply-held beliefs and took turnings on the path to peace when they easily could have advocated for violence. The lessons of the story are far-reaching. Now, locally based Muslims and Christians are working together in the footsteps of these Old World advocates to share their inspiring story.

“The crux of the Crusades — the reason so many were willing to sacrifice their lives — lay in a belief, spread among armies, that vanquishing the enemy was a religious obligation. To persuade them further, political and religious leaders preached lies and dehumanized the enemy, tapping into something primal and dangerous,” said Alex Kronemer, co-founder of Unity Productions Foundation, which produced “The Sultan and the Saint.”

Pope Francis, who took on St. Francis’s name in an effort to follow in his humble footsteps, recently spoke about the importance of not painting one group with a broad brush of evil. “I think it is not right to identify Islam with terrorism. It is not right, and it is not true.”

To encourage interfaith partnerships and dialogue, Muslim and Christian groups are teaming up around the U.S. to host screenings of “The Sultan and the Saint.” The Westfield State event was organized by a collaborative effort between the Chaplains Council of the Albert and Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center, Higher Ed Higher Ground, and the Westfield State Foundation.

Prior to the screening, Dr. Ramon S. Torrecilha, president of Westfield State University, will provide remarks as well as Mr. Paul Crawford, board member of the Franciscan Action Network.

Tickets are free for students and a suggested $10 donation for the general public. Ticket proceeds benefit The Westfield State Foundation. For more information on the screening and the story of “The Sultan and the Saint,” contact Maureen McCartney, associate dean of Academic Achievement, at (413) 572-8801 or mmccartney@westfield.ma.edu. More information and a trailer for the docudrama can also be found at www.sultanandthesaintfilm.com.

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