DUBAI // A schoolboy's three-minute movie about how faith steered his family through adversity has been shortlisted for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's global film award.
"When my dad and I read the description of the category we immediately thought of my mother," says Ethan D'Souza, 14, a pupil at the Winchester School in Dubai.
"The film shows the struggle and strength of my entire family when my mother was paralysed."
The Faith Shorts competition was launched by Mr Blair's foundation to give people aged between 14 and 18 a chance to show the benefits of faith in an increasingly secular world.
This is the first year the foundation has received entries from the UAE.
Ethan, whose Christian family is from Goa, India, will have his work judged in the family movie category by Mr Blair, the former British prime minister; the Hollywood actors Hugh Jackman and Jet Li; the Bollywood veteran Anil Kapoor; and the former Fox Studios president Sherry Lansing.
The films will be shown at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts this year, where winners will be announced.
When Ethan was eight months old, his mother, Edila D'Souza, was found to have Guillain-Barre syndrome, an illness that affects the nervous system.
"She was in the hospital for five months and couldn't move anything but her head," Ethan says. "My dad had to juggle his job and looking after us."
He was too young to remember the challenges, so his parents helped him piece together his script.
"We had to go back to old photographs and help him," says his father, Edward D'Souza.
Mrs D'Souza has recovered well, although she still has trouble walking and using her arms.
In the final seconds of the film she tells the audience: "Today we are who we are, we are what we are, because we believed."
Ethan says that before putting the film together, his family never really talked about the situation. But they prayed.
"Every night I say a prayer, and if it wasn't for prayers and a divine intervention, we might not have been so lucky that she made such a great recovery," Ethan says.
The positive note in Ethan's video, which is entitled Me, Myself and Faith, may have struck a chord with the judges, says Glenda Clark, a teacher at Winchester school who co-ordinates Face to Faith, a global schools programme initiated by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation to connect children across religions and cultures.
"A lot of pupils have positive faith experiences but not everyone is confident or happy to talk about it," she says.
Ethan's film will compete against entries from India, Lebanon, the Philippines, Singapore and the US.
He says the chance to tell his story is prize enough.
"Of course I would be elated if I won but I think the video has already sent out a strong message about what can be achieved with a little faith," Ethan says.
Details of the competition and shortlisted entries can be found on www.faithshorts.org.uk