Sunday, April 11, 2010

Film and Theolgy Wed

Everyone likes movies, and even if they don't-- they like to talk about them, sometimes longer than the car ride home from the movie theater. Imagine getting to talk and ask questions of the movies and the makers of those films that you just watched!

This weekend I got to participate in a truly unique experience that merged my two loves: Film and theology. The inaugural Bay Area Windrider Film Forum was so creatively satisfying for me. I got to watch films and then talk about them with their makers! What a great opportunity. For over 5 years I have been a Seminary Student working on my Masters of Theology (about 9 weeks from now I graduate). It is kinda crazy to get a Masters in "studying God," --cause obviously you can imagine studying God isn't as easy as just filling in a multiple choice test and walking away with a diploma. In Seminary we try to interpret the Bible's letters and stories through context, dissect its history, and write way too many papers. I'll leave Seminary with way more questions than I started but I'm seriously stoked to be a part of a Seminary that values looking for God and studying theology by looking to what's going on in culture through media and especially the the arts with emphasis on film. So Fuller Seminary helped sponsor this forum (which started at Sundance) and I was so glad I got to be a part of it. (Not only did I participate by watching films and taking in the Q&A-- I got to help interview some of the film makers for some video promo blurbs in the future. Which gave me a backstage look into this great event).

Here's quick rundown:

April 8th: Thursday Evening

Opening Night Presentation and Film
6:00 pm Introduction and talk with Producer Ralph Winter (X-Men, Star Trek)and Fuller’s Chap Clark: I loved hearing about the Hero's journey.

7:30 pm Opening Film: AFTER THE STORM (what a great documentary on how kids in New Orleans processed Hurricane Katrina through putting on a musical).
Q&A with Writer/Producer James Lecesne
and Producer John Priddy

April 9th: Friday Evening
7:30 pm Film: SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS This was a pure blow-out night. What an edgy film that dived head first into God's healing power and how according to Mark Ruffalo director, "We don't always get the healing we want, but we get the healing we need." It's a drama about a crippled DJ (actor/writer Chris_Thornton) in modern-day Los Angeles who discovers that he has the power to heal everyone but himself mixed in the hard and raunchy life of skid row and the punk rock scene of LA. Both of these guys shared some of their own stories of film and faith and it was moving.
Q&A with Director Mark Ruffalo
and Writer/Actor Christopher Thornton
Read a review here.

As you can imagine people lost their minds over these two guys. Some true Hollywood fans emerged out of the film goers as well as the theology students and staff. It was quite fun to watch how people of all ages were star struck, frothing at the mouth for some celebrity face time, autographs, and pictures, and all in MENLO PARK of all places. But the attention was well deserved, Sympathy for Delicious was a dark and beautiful film that I hope many people get to see. In Mark's words it was "Rough and Holy."

April 10th: Saturday Afternoon
2:30 pm Films: A set of award winning shorts

One of my favorite films from the event was SHORT TERM 12. This 20 minute masterpiece was disturbingly delicious, (can I use the two words together?), written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. It truly invaded me while I watched it. The story is about abused teens living in a group home and how the adults, broken and messy themselves deal with the well as their own issues.

It took everything in me not to beg, (but I kinda did ask/hint) the director to cast me in one of his future films. I really sensed incredible artistic genius in him and his talents, and I would love to be connected to art like that. I actually got to interview him, (twice actually)and hear his story. He's VERY humble, I like meeting people like that in general but especially when they are film makers. I sincerely applauded him for his piece! I think I was more starstruck with Destin than the Friday night guys. I loved Short Term 12's music, the set, the actors and of course the story. This 20 minutes is full of gritty sadness, with true to life characters but that are also lovable and raw. It makes you think about hurt and often forgotten/unseen kids in our culture but it also caused me to look inward to my own life of hurt and how that has affected me. We all are affected by our hurts and just because we get old, doesn't mean we "grow up." Purchase the film and support! Read an interview here. We will screen this film at our Serving Retreat this next weekend.

Q&A with Writer/Director Anna Christopher (So great to meet her, loved her Spirit!).
Writer/Director/Producer Destin Cretton,
Producer/Director Oscar Bucher, (We shared a moment about balancing being dad/family man with pursuing dreams and creativity. That was really cool).
and Director/Writer John Hindman

I got to sit with John Hindman for 15 minutes. I was nervous at first thinking I would feel small and insignificant with this big movie director. Although he was bold, confident, and fully willing to share his opinions --he was honest and authentic about his own spiritual journey. And later I found out ANSWER MAN was his directorial debut. I loved the film because it dealt with dark issues of death, alcoholism, awkward relationship stuff, and major father issues while being cloaked as a "Romantic Comedy," so as I was laughing I could address some of my own sadness and realizations of my own personal life.

April 10th: Saturday Evening
5:00 pm Reception with Filmmakers
7:00 pm Film: THE ANSWER MAN
Q&A with Writer John Hindman,

Two thumbs up for this great event. Two thumbs up for the marriage of theology and film!


Garrett said...

Great overview, Tony. Check out this short article I wrote for Collide that contrasts a big-name worship concert with Windrider:

J. R. Daniel Kirk said...

Nice review, Tony. I think we gravitated toward the same films...