Thursday, January 21, 2010
Sundance Film Festival - Boge
Sundance Film Festival
Today marks the beginning of Sundance Film Festival. It’s America’s best known film festival showcasing emerging talent and highlighting new material from household names. It’s fascinating. The premiere filmmaking cultural event of each year taking place in Park City, Utah.
Reviewing the list of feature films, short films, documentaries and other forms of film from American and International directors reveals a diverse mixture of themes and stories. Included in the mix are a couple of films that deal with miracles and God’s role in healing.
Films are a tremendous medium for investigating truth. That’s sometimes why Christian films have a harder time finding a broader audience.
The challenge comes when Christians are motivated (and rightly so) by a desire to convey a specific theme – salvation, forgiveness, etc. That’s great. But the potential problem with theme-motivated films, whether Christian themes or any other theme, is that sometimes theme becomes the only goal, and the story comes along for the ride. Sometimes a story is forced along to ensure that the right aspect of the theme is convincingly portrayed at the end. And audiences feel as if the film is being manipulated.
So what to do? Do we go soft on theology and ‘investigate’ truth, or do we stick to our guns with a strong message and ensure that all the characters tow the line? It seems that neither option is particularly attractive.
In the end, it takes a truly inspired work of God to make audience draw forward in their seats. And it takes a committed and faithful team at His direction and power to work to see that vision carried out.
I’m encouraged by the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts. Acts 17:17-21 says (thanks Bible Gateway):
17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then[a] certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
Of the many things to highlight, one stands out: Paul was in the marketplace. To get invited to Sundance is no easy task. Gone are the days when Christianity was the centre focus of our culture. Paul reminds us to be in the marketplace, and when it comes to film it means making films that people outside the Christian faith would be interested in seeing. Again, no easy task.
We need to believe in the medium of film and invest in our youth to encourage them in filmmaking. It’s a tough road. Anyone in it will confirm it. You try and be relevant, but you don’t want to water down the message. It can be done. People are doing it all the time. Christians in mainstream Hollywood are making a difference.
Next, we should evaluate how we view Hollywood. Culprit or mission field of cool people? We’ve never had a problem sending missionaries to China, India, Africa or South America. But we’ve had a decidedly different view of Hollywood.
Part of that, I think, comes from realizing that people might get caught up the busyness and business of Hollywood and potentially lose focus of their relationship with Christ. It’s happened to be sure. But this shouldn’t stop us from making movies or investing in our youth’s future in the field.
We need to ask ourselves the most important question – has our message to Hollywood been: We love you, Hollywood?
Let’s make great movies. Movies that the world will take notice of. Movies that Sundance and other festivals will consider. Movies that will show people from an honest story point of view the great message of the Cross.
Paul H. Boge is the writer/director and one of the producers of FireGate Films Among Thieves – an award winning feature film about the reasons for the War in Iraq. www.firegatefilms.com/amongthieves
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