By Charles Igwe
Sister Josefina Albuquerque, a Catholic nun residing in the vibrant city of Mumbai, India, has embarked on a cinematic journey aimed at today’s youth. Despite her limited resources, she has manifested her vision in a compelling seven-minute fiction film, created entirely on a mobile phone in just two days.
Sister Josefina is a member of the Religious of Jesus and Mary Congregation. She serves as a teacher and currently holds the position of headmistress at St. Agnes High School in Byculla, Mumbai. Beyond her role in education, she possesses a deep passion for filmmaking. While writing may not be her forte, she has found her niche in cinematography.
The COVID-19 lockdown presented Sister Josefina with a unique opportunity to acquire the skills necessary for filmmaking and editing. Her inspiration came from a visit to the tribal people residing in Mumbai’s Aarey forest. Intrigued by their way of life, she embarked on creating a documentary titled “Under the Banyan Tree: A Path to Self-Discovery.” This documentary explores the life of an engineer who chose to abandon financial comforts to live in Mumbai’s Aarey forest, dedicating himself to educating people about finding their true calling by standing up for their rights.
Recognizing that today’s youth are heavily engaged with social media, Sister Josefina, who oversees youth ministry in her religious community, realized that reaching them required a firm grasp of media and digital studies. This insight led her to enroll in a professional filmmaking course at St. Paul’s Communication Centre in Bandra, Mumbai. As part of her coursework, she felt compelled to create a film focused on children’s lives.
Sister Josefina’s project, “D for Dumbo,” was filmed on a modest budget at St. John the Evangelist School in Marol, Andheri, Mumbai. The film tells the story of Sam, a fourth-grade student ridiculed for his inability to recite math tables as quickly as his peers. However, Sam, affectionately labeled the class “dumbo,” surprises everyone when another teacher assigns them a creative task.
This remarkable film earned recognition from St. Paul’s Institute in Bandra, Mumbai, and Sister Josefina received the award from the renowned Bollywood actor, Naseeruddin Shah. “D for Dumbo” is now en route to the online ALP International Film Festival.
Sister Josefina expressed her delight at receiving the award, describing it as the “recognition and confirmation of my belief that, through integrating my passion for filmmaking and education, I’m confident that I can reach a larger audience.”
For Sister Josefina, filmmaking serves as a modern-day parable to engage with people, much like how Jesus used parables to communicate with those of His time. She believes that films are a powerful means of spreading God’s Word in today’s context.
In her journey into the world of film, Sister Josefina exemplifies the saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Her passion and dedication have paved the way for her first venture into filmmaking, offering a unique connection with the youth of today.