Home Diocese The Making of a Documentary Examining Russian Christianity

The Making of a Documentary Examining Russian Christianity


NEW YORK (CNS) – As the house lights came down and the auditorium screen lit up, a young Rome-based filmmaker and religion journalist sat with a fixated audience for the April 29 theatrical premiere of his documentary, “Faces Among Icons,” a study of Christianity in today’s Russia. Robert Duncan, the 29-year-old video journalist in Catholic News Service’s Rome bureau, was able to see his ambitious project on the big screen at Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, New York, and then participated in a panel discussion about the film following the screening. Though CNS released the documentary last fall, along with a five-part series of articles on the topic, watching the film in the darkened theater with his wife and two young children in attendance offered Duncan the opportunity to reflect on the fruits of his labor, a prodigious undertaking. The first thing he had to do was convince his news service chiefs that this was a project worth the time and expense from an organization that doesn’t specialize in documentary filmmaking. Admittedly, Duncan said it wasn’t as hard of a sell as he thought it was going to be. He was met with intrigue from Cindy Wooden, CNS’s Rome bureau chief, and Greg Erlandson, CNS director and editor-in-chief. “I was attracted to the proposal because it sought to mark two centenaries: the apparitions at Fatima and the start of the Russian Revolution,” Erlandson said. “Both were tremendous influences on the Catholic Church in the 20th century. I also liked that it was a multimedia project, so that the story would be told through print, video and photos.”