Religious education: Orthodox video
Artos Charitable Foundation
Orthodox cinema… Not long ago this phrase would only provoke amazement, but today tapes with Orthodox films have come to occupy a certain place in church shops along with religious books and periodicals. This is only natural. Indeed, cinema and video now play a significant role in forming the modern man's vision of the world, and a rare person can escape their influence. And the way in which this influence is directed depends on the content and spiritual message of each particular work of art. Therefore, those engaged in Orthodox education have an important task to produce films which help people to reflect on the meaning of life and their spiritual roots and to come to faith. Orthodox cinema as addressing the sublime part of the human soul should create an alternative to the film production that serves primarily the viewers' sensual, carnal, desires. Religious films, addressing people in a language understandable for them, should draw their attention to church life, should open for them the world of the Church of God, so far unknown to them, and motivate them to make a first step into this world. Unfortunately, the Orthodox video production is yet a little developed field, which we hope will bring excellent fruits in the long run.
The Artos Charitable Foundation is a major video- and audio-producer. Registered in 2002, it is based at the Orthodox Video educational center, one of the first Orthodox organizations to specialize in film production.
The Orthodox Video foundation was established with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia on May 19, 1995, the birthday of the last Russian Czar. Since then, the Passion-Bearer Emperor Nicholas II has been the invisible patron of the foundation.
The Artos Charitable Foundation works in several areas. One of its major parts is a video-studio producing Orthodox films. The foundation works in cooperation with many art directors who develop spiritual-moral and historical themes. A large part of the work is carried out by the foundation's audio-studio, producing tapes, making records and restoring archive audio-material. The foundation is also engaged in publishing work.
The main goal of the foundation is Orthodox education. Therefore, we produce video- and audiocassettes for children and adults, both fully and partially inchurched viewers and listeners. Based at the Church of All Saints of the New St. Alexis's Convent at Krasnoye Selo, the foundation is an integral part of the parish, working under the spiritual guidance of its rector, Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov.
The Church of All Saints is the only acting church to survive in St. Alexis' Convent destroyed in the years of persecution. The restoration of historical memory and spiritual continuity is also one of the important goals of the Artos Charitable Foundation.
The foundation is engaged in not only educational but also pedagogical work, because most of the parishioners of our church are young people and children. Our production is called to educate youth for morality and Christian worldview and help parents in the difficult task of upbringing their children.
It is an open secret that one of the strong temptations threatening a child's healthy morality today comes from the powerful flow of film and video production that has nothing to do with purity or morality. These products endeavor to engulf anyone who risks stopping to look at it and to carry him or her away to heaven know where. These are "hits", "thrillers" and the like not worthy mentioning here. Even an inchurched family would find it difficult to guard their children against this temptation. The importance of Orthodox cinema can hardly be overestimated here as a good film benefits the souls of young viewers, meeting their need for information without letting them feel deprived ("But everybody is allowed watch TV and I am not!"). The Artos Foundation offers children such video-programs as Visiting a Father and A Story for the Night, which need to be discussed separately.
A Story for the Night is addressed to children and consists of two tapes each 90 minutes long. Each tape contains seven talks by Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov for each day of the week.
The authors set themselves the task to introduce children to basic moral notions in an easy and entertaining way and to teach them to see in life things pure, lofty and good. The video-collection is addressed to all children without exception and regardless of differences in age, nationality and background.
The first issue of the collection contains the following talks:
Here are the stories of the second issue:
Visiting a Father is a 60 minute-long video-collection intended for the younger generation. Featuring in it are Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov and children from Parish School No. 1 in Moscow. In an easy atmosphere over a cup of tea, the father tells the children exciting stories about "An Old Man, a Little Fish and the Wisdom of God", "The Czar's Letters", "A Russian Peasant Woman". The viewers will see how one can learn from a Whale the virtue of discerning between good and bad, how Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna raised her children, and how beautiful were the souls of many ordinary Russian peasant women. The stories are well illustrated, sparking animated pictures.
Intended for children, the films in this series have already taken the fancy of adults too. Indeed, many of us, though mature, have remained children in spiritual life.
The films in the Spiritual Talks series can become a good help to those who only begin their church life. This series consists of films describing the Orthodox Church and its sacraments. They are called The Church of God and the Sacrament of Baptism, Sacrament of Marriage, On the Soul Proceeding from the Body. The film entitled Font is about Baptism, and Healing of the Soul about repentance. After watching them a viewer will be acquainted with the structure of the Church of God, learning the meaning and profound symbolism of its parts. He or she will also understand the need for an Orthodox Christian to participate in the God-established sacraments of repentance, baptism, marriage and communion and in such rite as requiem service. The fundamentals of spiritual life are also taught by the film In the Garden of Gesthamane. Talks about the Holy Land.
Films about the acute problems of today are also very relevant. Among them are Let Him See the Sun about the terrible sin of legitimate infanticide as a consequence of godlessness and A la guerre com a la guerre is about the soldier's life, war and Providence.
Both the faithful and the doubtful will be interested in the lecture-film called The Shroud of Risen Christ, featuring Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov and Mr. A. Belyakov, director of the Russian Center of the Turin Shroud.
The Artos Foundation has also produced many films devoted to remarkable people, glorious saints and today's zealots of devotion, as well as renowned and less renowned historical figures. This series includes the following films: The Holy Orthodox Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky, and Brother Joseph" about the life and martyrdom of Joseph Munioz Cortez, Ambrose in monasticism, who protected the miracle-working myrrh-exuding Icon of Our Lady of Iveron, and A Pastor of God about the last Optina starets, schema archimandrite Ambrose (Ivanov) (1887-1978). A trilogy called Life for the Motherland, Soul for God is devoted to the Holy Admiral Fyodore Ushakov, St. Andrew the First Called and marine Dmitry Ilyin, a hero of the Chesmen Battle. There are two interesting issues in the series called Come and See. The first one consists of three stories about St. Vladimir's Children's Hospital, Yevgeny Rodionov who was killed for his faith in Chechnya and the inhabitants of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian. The second issue in this series is devoted to St. Seraphim of Vyritsa, who has been recently glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church as a God-bearing starets of the 20th century. Among films very popular with viewers is My Heart Is Filled with Song about Maxim Troshin, a naturally-gifted young Russian singer whose life was interrupted tragically.
The Artos's audio-programme consists of several series. The Czarist Russia and Russian Czars series undertakes to restore historical justice. Recorded in this series are lively and exciting stories about Russian Czars beginning from John II to martyred Nicholas III who is now included in the community of saints. Without claiming to reproduce every fact and event in the reign of a particular Czar of All Russians, the author gives his listeners an opportunity to appreciate the essence and spirit of his rule and his inner life, thus revealing to them the mystery of Orthodox monarchy. All the power of an Orthodox Czar as a God's Anointed lies in the genuine morality of his subjects. As Holy Scripture says in the First Book of I Samuel 12:25, "If you do wickedly you shall be consumed, both you and your king". A sovereign becomes powerless if his people turn away from God and fail to fulfil His commandments. A sovereign always shares his fate with his people; the people's dignity or indignity either prolong or shorten his life. All this is related on the basis of Russian history by the following cassettes of this series:
Both children and adults will be interested in the Lives of Saints series. It may become a great help in the development of the moral and spiritual life of both older and younger generations. This series includes the following cassettes:
The Artos Foundation in the person of Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov prepared a series of audiocassettes under the general name Human Passions. On the basis of Orthodox asceticism and his own spiritual experience, the author discusses human passions and the ways for an Orthodox Christian to overcome them. This series is represented by the following cassettes:
The anchorman of all the three above-mentioned series is Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov. He is also the author of the Visiting a Father series shedding light on such generally accepted notions and themes as:
In most of the cassettes in this series, the stories told by the priest are accompanied with classical verses by Tiutchev, Pushkin and Lermontov, set to music and performed by Orthodox vocalist Anna Shirochenko.
In our time when noisy music keeps bursting in people's consciousness, compositions executed by gifted Orthodox performers acquire a special significance. The Artos Foundation works together with precisely such composing performers, especially Victor Dzansolov and Anna Shirochenko. It has recorded literary-musical compositions Russia's Children and In the Field of Honour based on verses by Russian emigration poets. It has carried out a hard work to restore the recordings of music performed by untimely-deceased young singer Maxim Troshin. As a result of this work, the foundation produced a cassette under the lyrical name of A Little Nightingale.
The foundation has also produced an audiocassette series called To Parents About Children, Pedagogical Secrets and Fathers and Sons - Talks about Youth giving parents, as well as teachers an experienced priest's advice on the education of the younger generation.
The list of products produced and distributed by the Artos Foundation can be continued. Noteworthy are also other areas in which it works.
The foundation has begun publishing new books written by Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov for both children and adults and to prepare materials for a booklet on the history and restoration of St. Alexis' Convent. It has also published the Gospel's text read on the Easter night in several languages. It is preparing to print an Orthodox calendar with everyday scriptural readings and a set of writing paper and postcards picturing St. Alexis' Convent. Besides, it plans to publish liturgical books with texts of the divine services celebrated on movable feast days and little known works from the treasury of patristic writings.
Public education occupies a considerable part in the life of the Artos Foundation. It holds regular charitable photo-exhibitions devoted to outstanding personalities buried in the cemetery of St. Alexis's Convent, to the Holy Boy Artemy of Verkola and others. Its exhibition devoted to the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II has been brought to many regions in Russia. Its Orthodox screen-lecture-hall and meetings it organizes with pastors of the Russian Church have enjoyed wide popularity.
It should be mentioned in conclusion that the Artos Foundation as a charitable organization does not pursue any commercial goal. Part of its production is distributed free and educational aid is given free to various categories of the poor. The price for audio- and videocassettes is very low, compared to their prime cost. It is not easy for an organization with such principles to survive in today's world, but the Lord does not abandon those who put their trust in Him and seek to serve Him by giving help at a time when all human resources have been exhausted.
Our foundation is a relatively young, growing and developing organization. We are ready for cooperation and will appreciate all your proposals and remarks.
Our address: Russia, 107140 Moscow, Second Krasnoselsky pereulok 5, Build. 1.
Orthodox Studio in Petersburg
The Orthodox Studio in Petersburg, a film-video company, was founded in 1993 with the blessing of the late Metropolitan Ioann of St. Petersburg and Ladoga. It has united professional cinematographers impelled by their faith to choose the life of the Russian Orthodox Church as the theme of their creative work and to engage themselves in creating Orthodox films. The studio was organized and is directed by Andrey Pavlovich, a film director and member of the Cinematographers' Union in Russia.
A. Pavlovich: The idea of a studio came in the period of perestroika when the radical changes made many people indifferent to what would happen to cinematography. People were absorbed and drunk with the illusion of 'freedom'. Central film studios in the country were in confusion because they could no longer shoot films in the old way while new ways and visions did not yet come. The country experienced global changes that not long ago seemed unrealizable. I had no desire to shoot "porno and slur" which had been forbidden in Soviet times and which poured in during perestroika to sweep screens all over for the next few years. I realized at that time that one could just as well highlight another theme forbidden in the previous 70 years. It was Orthodoxy.
I always wished to shoot films about our Church. As any artists, I had my own ideas and views of it. But in the Soviet time, one could only show architecture and history, while showing the depths of Orthodoxy and internal church life was forbidden. The Church remained an enigma for most people. In the new times, it became possible to expose the sources of our "inexplicable Russian soul". Indeed, if you look at how Russian culture developed in history, you will easily see its profound and indissoluble link with Orthodoxy. Culture always originates in and depends on cult, as Father Pavel Florensky wrote in his famous book "The Pillar and Support of the Truth". Culture stems from cult and has its roots and its deep-laid religious conception in it. It is evident from its origin, which coincides with the time when Russia was baptized. The chosen Faith was decisive for Russia's destiny. This choice led the Russian people to the baptismal font of Orthodoxy and determined a special religious and national type of Russian culture. And it is quite understandable because culture is created by the human soul, while the soul is formed under the strong influence of the established religion. The image of the Holy Trinity became the innermost ideal of Russian spiritual culture. This ideal found its expression in theology and icon-painting beginning from the famous icon by Andrew Rublev to the construction of monasteries, cathedrals and churches, which came to cover the Russian land everywhere. That is why I decided to shoot films about Orthodoxy".
Since its inception, the studio has experienced many difficulties. Its technical production base had to be set up from scratch and that against the background of economic instability in the country and a great disorder in the cinema industry. There was a need for an editorial concept, a creative program and a solid team of like-minded people. During the initial stages, the studio staff had to work without payment, earning their living on the side. However, support from dioceses and the faithful who needed Orthodox cinema and the awareness of this need on the part of every one of us helped to overcome difficulties. The studio's films have become known and loved in many Russian cities.
Today the studio has the status of a film and video company and continues its work with the blessing of Metropolitan Vladimir of St. Petersburg and Ladoga. For the nine years of its work, the studio has produced, with God's help, over 40 films about monasteries, churches, Orthodox feasts, saints and ascetics and video-films with spiritual talks and sermons.
The Orthodox Monasteries in Russia video series
The Pskov Monastery of the Caves (30 minutes long) is about the past and present of the monastery with its five-century-long history and its special atmosphere.
The Konevets Monastery (30 minutes long) is about the Konevets Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos on Konevets Island on Ladoga Lake. The monastery was founded by St. Arsenius of Konevets in the 14th century.
The Optina Monastery of the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple (30 minutes long). This hermitage is located in central Russia, not far from Moscow. The goodness of the Optina Starets has supported and strengthen us in Orthodox faith for over two centuries.
The Monastery of Our Saviour-in-the-New-Place (30 minutes long). Founded in the 13th century, this monastery is one of the oldest shrines in Moscow. Together with Moscow, it has seen many a difficult day. Today the monastery and its main shrine, the burial-vault of the Romanov Dynasty, are reviving together with the entire Holy Russia.
The Monastery of Our Lady of Iveron at Valdai (30 minutes long). The Valdai Monastery of Our Lady of Iveron-on- Holy-Lake is one of the most remarkable shrines in Russia. It was founded in the mid-17 century by Patriarch Nikon and represents a replica of the Iveron Monastery in Mount Athos.
St. Varlaam's Monastery at Khutyn (30 minutes long). A film about one of the oldest Russian monasteries, which was founded by St. Varlaam in the 12th century. In 1994, St. Varlaam's Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration was returned to the Church. Now it functions as a convent.
The Tervenichy Convent of the Intercession (30 minutes long) A film about the local feast-day at this renewed convent, celebrated by the nuns, parishioners and pilgrims.
The Zelenetsky Monastery of the Holy Trinity (30 minutes long). Located 150 kilometers away from St. Petersburg, this monastery went through many glorious and tragic events. Returned now to the Orthodox Church it experiences a revival.
The Monastery of St. Alexander of Svira (30 minutes long). This monastery, located 250 kilometers away from St. Petersburg, is a pearl of the Russian North. It was founded by St. Alexander of Svira in the 16th century at the place where he had a vision of the Most Holy and Life-Giving Trinity.
The Novodevichy Convent of the Holy Resurrection (30 minutes long). This remarkable convent in Moskovsky Prospect in St. Petersburg was founded in the mid-18th century. Together with the whole country, it survived devastation and desecration to be renewed today by God's mercy for coming glory.
The Cheremenetsky Monastery of St. John the Theologian (30 minutes long). Situated on the picturesque bank of Cheremenetsky Lake near the town of Luga, this monastery is one of the oldest cloisters in the Russian Northwest. Today, the brethren, putting their trust in God's will, have undertaken the burden of restoring it.
O Wondrous Valamo Island (30 minutes long). The Valamo archipelago with its nearly fifty islands is situated in the northern part of Ladoga Lake. Towering over the largest of them is the magnificent ensemble of the Valamo Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration. Founded many centuries ago by Sts. Sergius and Herman on hard northern rocks, this old monastery has resumed its monastic life today. The primary task of the monastic community is to restore the spiritual traditions of the Old Valamo. Unique film- and photo-documents and archive materials were used in producing this film.
The Tikhvin Monastery of the Dormition (70 minutes long). The emergence of this monastery and the town of Tikhvin itself is associated with the vision of an Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, which was to be called Our Lady of Tikhvin. During the Great Patriotic War, the holy image of the Heavenly Queen was taken out of Russia to receive asylum today in the United States of America. The film relates the past and present of the monastery. The story of the miracle-working Icon of Our Lady of Tikhvin is told by eyewitnesses of those remote events and today's keeper of the icon, Archpriest Sergiy Garklavs.
The Orthodox Churches in St. Petersburg video series
Orthodox St. Petersburg (30 minutes long) is about the history and spiritual traditions of churches in St. Petersburg and the holy men of this great city.
Cathedral of Prince Vladimir (30 minutes long) is about the oldest church in the city. The film shows the most vivid episodes in the life of the cathedral, such as the sacrament of Baptism, a talk with its rector and a festive celebration conducted by Metropolitan Ioann of St. Petersburg and Ladoga.
The Church of Our Lady of Smolensk (30 minutes long). This church was built with the help of the Blessed Xenia of St. Petersburg who was buried at the church's Cemetery of Our Lady of Smolensk. The Chapel of the Blessed Xenia there attracts Orthodox pilgrims from all over the country.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan (30 minutes long) is about the past and present of this most beautiful shrine of St. Petersburg and its revival today.
St. Nicholas's (30 minutes long). The Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas is one of the most magnificent churches in St. Petersburg. From time immemorial, sailors have venerated St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker, who is considered the patron saint of the Russian Fleet. St. Nicholas's occupies a significant place in the life of the city, a port and the cradle of the Russian Fleet.
Church of St. Job the Great Sufferer (30 minutes long). It is the only acting church to be dedicated to St. Job the Great Sufferer in Russia. It is situated in the Volkovsky Cemetery. The Emperor Nicholas II himself used to pray there before the church's miracle-working icons. The Blessed Old Woman Liubushka also loved this church.
Church of the Dormition (30 minutes long). This church was laid down in 1996 to commemorate the siege of Leningrad. People in St. Petersburg know how much their city went through in those war years. Therefore, the construction of the Church of the Siege has become a personal task for every city dweller.
Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (30 minutes long). It was built in 1867 in memory of the builders of the first two-way railway between St. Petersburg and Moscow. Its restoration began in 1989. His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia consecrated it on September 17, 1999.
Orthodox Feasts series
Dormition (30 minutes long). The Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God is the main feast of the Pskov-Pechory Monastery of the Holy Dormition. The film is about the celebration of the Dormition Day at the monastery and the history and spiritual foundations of this feast.
Easter in St. Petersburg (30 minutes long). The film includes sequences of Easter services in St. Nicholas's, the Cathedral of the Trinity in St. Alexander Nevsky's Laura and the Church of Our Lady of Vladimir.
Orthodoxy and Russian Culture series
"Obey, O Muse, the Will of God…" (30 minutes long). The film relates the life of the greatest Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Poet and artist by God's grace, he himself became a God's blessing for Russia which he crowned forever with his radiant talent.
Art of Bell-Ringing in Russia (30 minutes long). This film is about the history and today's revival of the bell-ringing art in Russia. The best bell-ringers who participated in the Bell-Ringing Festival demonstrated their skills in 1999 in Novgorod.
"Bless the Lord, O My Soul…" A concert film (70 minutes long) showing a contest of church choirs and folk teams. Church music by Chesnokov, Rakhmaninov, Shvedov, Vedel and other great Russian composers is performed by church, secular and students choirs in St. Petersburg.
Spiritual Talks series
Talks by His Eminence Anthony of Surozh (3 parts 120 minutes long). Metropolitan Anthony is Doctor Honoris Causa of the Moscow Theological Academy and the ruling bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain.
Talks by Rev. Alexander Zakharov (50 minutes long). Many Orthodox believers in St. Petersburg know Father Alexander very well. People respect him for his wisdom, spiritual guidance and help in troubles and sorrows. In the film, he talks about happiness, sin, temptations and faith.
Zealots of Devotion in the Russian Land series
In Memory of Metropolitan Ioann (30 minutes long). This film features outstanding events in the life of Metropolitan Ioann of St. Petersburg and Ladoga as pastor, Christian and human being.
In Memory of Mother Fekla (30 minutes long). Sister Fekla settled down on the site of the devastated old Oyats Convent of the Presentation of Our Lady. Many pilgrims flocked there to visit the mother superior who began the life of prayer in the convent on her own. The convent is reviving, but without her now…
Hermit Starets Sampson Sivers (65 minutes long). He was imprisoned and executed by shooting. The fate of Count Sivers, who became a schima starets Sampson, is unique. The film includes documentary sequences and reminiscences about him and relates his life story, so complicated but filled with exploits of prayer.
Hermit Starets Seraphim of Vyritsa (30 minutes long). Father Seraphim worked hard to offer starets's spiritual guidance to people at the village of Vyritsa for over twenty years. At the same village he passed away for the Lord. Pilgrims are flocking to the place of his last repose in an endless file, seeking his help and consolation.
Father (50 minutes long). This film is about the most honoured priest in the St. Petersburg diocese, Archpriest Vasily Yermakov, rector of the Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov.
At God's Altar (30 minutes long). Archpriest Yevgeny Yefimov, the oldest priest in the St. Petersburg diocese, has served at the Church of the Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky at the Krasnoye Selo village for over half a century.
His Holiness' Blessing (60 minutes long). Sequences from the services conducted by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Valamo and Konevets Islands.
The New Valamo Monasery of the Holy Transfiguration in Finland (60 minutes long). Situated in eastern Finland, this monastery is a successor of the spiritual tradition of the old monastery in Valamo Island. It is devoted to Orthodox life in Finland. The New Valamo Monastery is the leading monastic community and an important missionary center today, which attracts both pilgrims and numerous visitors seeking spirituality and quiet.
A Child's Prayer (30 minutes long). There is a children's choir at the Pskov-Pechery Monastery of the Dormition, working there for ten year now. It is not only singing that children are taught in the old monastery. Enjoying the spiritual guidance of starets and praying together with monks, children are taught charity, love of neighbour, compassion and patience. In due time they will enter the adult life with strong faith in the Lord, bringing with them light and love.
St. Petersburg Theological Academy and Seminary (70 minutes long). The film is devoted to all the professors and mentors, both living and dead, who have faithfully served in the field of religious education in the St. Petersburg Theological Schools from their inception to this day. It relates the history and traditions of this old outstanding school and the changes that have taken place in it in recent years.
The Wise Robber (30 minutes long). This film is about the social service that the Russian Orthodox Church has carried out at Investigation Jail No. 45/1 popularly called "Kresty" ("Crosses"). The Church of St. Alexander Nevsky was built in this prison over a century ago. It was closed in 1917. Several years ago the prison administration allowed to resume divine services in the rebuilt prison church. Initially only one or two inmates would come for services, but gradually the number of those who wished to pray to the Lord has grown. Many now have embarked on the path of repentance and reformation.
The studio distributes its films and programs in videocassettes, which are also shown on TV in St. Petersburg. It also works in close cooperation with movie-theatres in the city. There have been repeated showings of its films in them. Our works have also found place in the repertory of the only movie-theatre in the city to show the classics of Russian cinematography under the rubric of Russian Orthodox Cinema. Every day, the Svet movie-theatre shows to its 6 o'clock house Orthodox programs and films produced by various studios in Russia. The Orthodox Studio in St. Petersburg has been the main supplier of these films. It is also a permanent participant in the Orthodox Lecture-House, which has been opened recently at the Voskhod cinema.
Another area in which the Orthodox Studio in St. Petersburg works is the production of TV shows. The mass media has a great influence on people's consciousness, but unfortunately we as viewers have often had to be content with low-quality production. As a result of the neglect of our cultural heritage we have developed a denial of the past.
If we look at the broadcasting grid on all the channels today, we will see that Orthodox broadcasting occupies only 90 minutes a week, while other confessions and sects have over 9 hours of air time. It is evident therefore how important and dearly-bought is every minute of an Orthodox show.
With the blessing of Metropolitan Vladimir of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, the Orthodox Studio in St. Petersburg has produced since September 1997 a weekly information-analysis TV program called the Orthodox Messenger. It is broadcast by the Petersburg TV channel.
The primary aim of this program is to highlight the life of the Russian Orthodox Church, to unite the efforts of ecclesiastical and secular organizations for preserving and reviving Russian Orthodox shrines. The show relates the spiritual and cultural traditions of Russian northern Capital City and the construction and restoration of churches. Sometimes we highlight in our program the life of other dioceses in Russia as well. The heroes of our show are not only clergy, but also ordinary people who cherish Orthodox faith. Our shooting team can be seen at Orthodox celebrations, at the opening of a new Orthodox school or a charity, at the construction sights, exhibitions, prisons and hospitals. In all our programs we seek to speak about faith, goodness and charity. Our Orthodox Messenger show has succeeded in winning many hearts and drawing a large audience.
For three years, the program was broadcast by TV Channel 11 called Russian Video. But in April 2000, the channel leaders cancelled the agreement and the only permanent Orthodox program in St. Petersburg was closed. "A Dinner with Candles" show was put in its place.
After an appeal our general director made to TV viewers, the studio received a great number of letters and phone calls. People asked how they could help, appealed to the channel to preserve the program and collected signatures in our support. Petitions signed by people in St. Petersburg and calls, letters and e-mails from various regions in Russia finally reached the desks of the channel's officials and leaders. Support for the only Orthodox program in the city came from clergy, workers, teachers, artists, journalists, and scholars. About one hundred organizations in St. Petersburg sent their demands to preserve the program to the city governor and TV officials.
Through these common efforts, the only permanent Orthodox TV show in St. Petersburg was resumed on Easter, April 30, 2000. But now it was shown on the main city TV channel. Believers had displayed great solidarity and firmness in this task, showing their staunch commitment to the service of the truth of Christ.
On September 23, 2002, the Orthodox Messenger program celebrated its 5th anniversary. This is the only Orthodox program to have been broadcast on St. Petersburg TV for five years. Among important presents that the Orthodox Studio received for its birthday was its recent victory at the Radonezh international film festival in Moscow. The studio won two prizes and was awarded the Silver Medal of St. Sergius of Radonezh.
At present the studio is working on the following films: Solovki Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration, Starets Nicholas (Guryanov), Talks with Father Basil Yermakov, Shrines of the Czar's Village, the Holy Starets Theodore of Tomsk.
A plan has been developed for a new TV publicist program "Orthodox Worldview and Today's Russia". The task of this series is to introduce as many people as possible to the millenium-long traditional worldview of the Russian State, which has survived the 70 years of intensive eradication and is asserting itself today in various spheres of life.
The studio is ready to produce another program, "Orthodox Calendar". Through this 5-minute-long program, we would like to offer Orthodox news, to announce forthcoming events and explain feasts and landmarks of the Russian Orthodox Church to people in the city and the region.
We are ready for cooperation with all the dioceses of the Moscow Patriarchate as well as secular organizations promoting spiritual revival in Russia.
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