Christians @ Sundance

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Christians @ Sundance

Opening night @ Sundance offered something for the disparate Christian approaches to popular culture.

“The combatants,” Christians who bemoan the deterioration of American civilization as reflected in today’s films, saw Sundance open with the dark comedy IN BRUGES, described by Geoffrey Gilmore, the director of the Sundance Festival as follows: “In many ways IN BRUGES is a quintessential Sundance film it’s brutal, philosophical, funny, and totally original¢â‚¬¦” and then added, “”It’s about killing people, but it’s funny.”

For “the communicators,” those who see film as a useful listening post, Robert Redford offered a rationale for why our violent society produces “dark comedies” about violence.

“It’s a reflection of our time. I think you’ll see more humor in films in general this year, even if it’s dark humor, because how long can you sit here and be frustrated and despairing that you can’t do anything about it. The world is so insane right now, it’s so dark and crazy … the stories seem to be a way for filmmakers to get a grip on what they can do about things. It’s a form of survival.”

The Windrider Forum, now in it’s fourth year, is a gathering of young theologians and filmmakers who watch Sundance films specifically because they want to become more adept at understanding and interpreting film. They dialogue with independent (indie) filmmakers who welcome the opportunities to discuss the central themes of their movies.

Because two-thirds of indie films will never be seen on the big screen, these filmmakers have usually taken immense personal risks in making their movie–mortgaging their homes, borrowing money, working on the film without pay–all with little hope of regaining their investment.

Why do it?

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” These indie filmmakers have seen aspects of the human condition they want others to see and they have something to say about it.

Jesus demonstrated that sharing good news starts with understanding the person to whom you are announcing it. His followers know communication starts with listening. Sundance is a good place to start.

Just today (Tuesday) @ Windrider, filmmaker Geoffrey Long (famous for filming the bag in American Beauty) explained some of the personal roots of his film The Last Word, which deals with the issues of suicide.

The “creatives,” are Christians, especially in the younger generation, who are not content to criticize or communicate about the work of other artists–they want to create the art.

They stand in the tradition of Michelangelo, who when asked about his generation’s inferior art, reportedly said, “my art is my critique.”

Robert Redford opened Sundance 2008 with hopeful words for these visionaries. “Art is the language of the soul,” he said, “and the true artist is an agent of change.”

Sundance attracts combatants, communicators and creatives and one suspects Jesus would have something to say to each of them, because by his example Jesus shows his followers that to obey him means to enter the world as a loving, transforming presence.

This week, Sundance is the world they are called to enter in ways that reflect both truth and love.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in January 22, 2008 by | No Comments »

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