Viewing the films at Sundance this year, is almost like going to a religious film festival:
“War Dance” – about 50,000 people living in a refugee camp in Northern Uganda.
“Black Snake Moan” – about the efforts of a impoverished blues singer to change the town nymphomaniac. (Very Flannery O’Connor). The filmmaker – Craig Brewer directly connected the Bible and it’s influence to the creation of his story.
“Trade” – a story based on the sex slavery business between Mexico and the United States.
“Monastery” – The film about an old Danish man who dreams of turning his rural estate into a Russian Orthodox Monastery. Filmed over a 5 year period by a single filmmaker, it chronicles the story of the relationship between the owner and the nun sent by the church to evaluate the possibilities.
“For the Bible Tells Me So” – a film focused on the lives of families who discovered they had a gay child, and their journey together. It questions how people have used the scriptures to prohibit homosexuality.
“Island” – A sailor captured by the Nazis and forced to shoot his own captain, spends the rest of his life searching for forgiveness while serving a remote Orthodox Monastery.
There are many more, and we still have two days of viewing, but whether you would consider the films orthodox theologically, not so orthodox, or downright infuriating, the great thing is that filmmakers from around the world are exploring the spiritual journey and struggling with the implications of that journey. Each day, Craig Detweiler hosts the Windrider Forum, where Fuller Seminary and Biola University students host some of the filmmakers and have some lively discussions. I had the opportunity to speak, along with Pastor and writer Chris Seay from Ecclesia in Houston, culture critic Dick Staub, and others.