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Bryce

Faith based films, faith themed films and Spiritually based films

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Greetings,

I would like to take this time to introduce myself. I am a filmmaker based in Vancouver BC, Canada. Last year we completed my latest film Genesis Code which we are hoping will be released this year.

This film is a story about a man who is blamed for the murder of his wife and the mysterious disappearance of their friend and her colleague. Struggling with his own faith in God, he sets out to prove his innocence on the day that his wife's spirit appears to him. (He believes she is leading him to the answers.) This is a "cat and mouse/who did it' film with elements and questions about God and who He is.

Personally, my walk with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit has been full and blessed. The journey has been up and down, over mountain peaks and through valleys, which has led me to know how true God's love is for us. I have never been a skeptic, as I was born into a Christian household, but have met many people who don't know God or struggle with their faith in Him.

My goal is to create and make inspirational films and where God is the center. The hero will encounter many challenges where their faith will be tested. These are stories with moral themes of good vs evil and light and darkness. I hope through these stories I will bring light, hope and inspire people to consider God and His truth.

What would you consider some of your favorite movies/TV series that touch on the Spirit of Humanity and God's hand in the hero's journey?

Is there a difference between faith based and spiritually based films? Would you prefer overt or subtle themes when watching these films?

Thank you for your time and responses,

God bless,

Bryce McLaughlin

Edited by Bryce

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My favorite faith-related films aren't about heroes passing tests, but about would-be heroes failing and God remaining sovereign and full of grace.

Three Colors: Blue, for example. Or The New World.

If I had to pick a story in which a person faces tests and succeeds, under incredible pressure, I'd suggest The Son.

If you're interested, I have a whole book about this subject.

Regarding your question "Is there a difference between faith based and spiritually based films?" — I don't know. I don't believe in "faith-based films," because all creative work is an act of faith. I don't know what a "spiritually based film" is. All creativity is an incarnational activity and thus involves spirit.

I'm not sure what you mean by "overt or subtle themes." The more a work of creativity announces what it thinks it means, the less artful it is — and it usually ends up being wrong about what it means anyway. Art is an invitation to explore what an artist has made out of his or her own encounter with mystery. We do not go to art to get a lesson; we go to experience beauty and consider what we might make of it, which, if the art is good, will be an ongoing and inconclusive journey.

 

 

Edited by Overstreet

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Hi Bryce. You might have noticed that A&F has a whole section devoted to our "top 100" and "top 25" spiritually significant films, going back to 2004. These lists give a good idea what A&F members have admired and found inspiring.

 

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On 1/26/2018 at 9:28 PM, Overstreet said:

My favorite faith-related films aren't about heroes passing tests, but about would-be heroes failing and God remaining sovereign and full of grace.

Three Colors: Blue, for example. Or The New World.

If I had to pick a story in which a person faces tests and succeeds, under incredible pressure, I'd suggest The Son.

If you're interested, I have a whole book about this subject.

Regarding your question "Is there a difference between faith based and spiritually based films?" — I don't know. I don't believe in "faith-based films," because all creative work is an act of faith. I don't know what a "spiritually based film" is. All creativity is an incarnational activity and thus involves spirit.

I'm not sure what you mean by "overt or subtle themes." The more a work of creativity announces what it thinks it means, the less artful it is — and it usually ends up being wrong about what it means anyway. Art is an invitation to explore what an artist has made out of his or her own encounter with mystery. We do not go to art to get a lesson; we go to experience beauty and consider what we might make of it, which, if the art is good, will be an ongoing and inconclusive journey.

 

 

Hello! Thanks for your message and insight. I apprecaite it. What's your book title? The Son are you talking about Eli McCullough story by Phillip Meyer's? I have heard of it.

When I asked about overt or subtle themes, there is a stigma, where the evolution of storytelling today is you need to spoon feed the audience. And this is because of their attention span. Myself I feel that it's more important to encourage the reader, the viewer to ask themselves questions about what they are reading. Stimulate their minds. In all of this I look for truth and what people truly enjoy.

I appreciate you confirming with me what you wrote about 'faith based film' and how all creative work is an act of faith. It's been hard to wrap my head around how they have created a genre now. Faith is faith. Whether it's a little or a lot. Faith is still faith. I hope to encourage growth in peoples faith in God. That is my hope. So thank you again for your confirmation on what I believe too.

I look forward to hearing more from you!

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3 hours ago, BethR said:

Hi Bryce. You might have noticed that A&F has a whole section devoted to our "top 100" and "top 25" spiritually significant films, going back to 2004. These lists give a good idea what A&F members have admired and found inspiring.

 

Hello BethR, Thank you for your message. I wanted to share I read over the list and that is what drove me to this site. I apprecaite everyone's thoughts and insight. I look forward to hearing more from yourself and others too.

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31 minutes ago, Bryce said:

Hello! Thanks for your message and insight. I apprecaite it. What's your book title? The Son are you talking about Eli McCullough story by Phillip Meyer's? I have heard of it.

Overstreet is referring to Le Fils, by the Dardenne brothers. IMDB page here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0291172/

His book is here: https://www.amazon.com/Through-Screen-Darkly-Looking-Closer/dp/0830743154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517515453&sr=8-1&keywords=through+a+screen+darkly

 

To answer your initial question: what are some of my favorite films "that touch on the Spirit of Humanity and God's hand in the hero's journey?"

For a traditional notion of hero's journey, I'd pick Branagh's adaptation of Henry V. But I would pick The Double Life of Veronique, Babette's Feast, and WALL-E for my favorite films about journeys which remind us of God's presence and love in unexpected ways.

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On 23/01/2018 at 9:23 PM, Bryce said:

What would you consider some of your favorite movies/TV series that touch on the Spirit of Humanity and God's hand in the hero's journey?

Bryce, while these don't all employ the monomyth framework implied in the original question, here are some films and filmmakers which I think touch on the transcendent by way of the immanent in terms of both form/style and content:

  • The films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Le Fils, The Kid with a Bike, Rosetta, La Promesse). Seek out and watch every one of their films. 
  • The films of Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven)
  • The films of Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Past, About Elly)
  • The films of Andrei Tarkovsky (Mirror, Stalker, Andrei Rublev)
  • Individual films which aren't already on the A&F Top 100 list would include Ida, Of Gods and Men, Take Shelter, This is Martin Bonner, Selma, Silence, The Gleaners and I, The Fits, Philomena, and Hail, Caesar!

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Hello Joel,

Thank you for taking the time to write and with me these films. I truly appreciate this and will watch the ones I haven't seen and revisit the ones I have. I look forward to having more dialogues here.

God bless!

Edited by Bryce
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On 2/1/2018 at 12:04 PM, Evan C said:

Overstreet is referring to Le Fils, by the Dardenne brothers. IMDB page here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0291172/

His book is here: https://www.amazon.com/Through-Screen-Darkly-Looking-Closer/dp/0830743154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517515453&sr=8-1&keywords=through+a+screen+darkly

 

To answer your initial question: what are some of my favorite films "that touch on the Spirit of Humanity and God's hand in the hero's journey?"

For a traditional notion of hero's journey, I'd pick Branagh's adaptation of Henry V. But I would pick The Double Life of Veronique, Babette's Feast, and WALL-E for my favorite films about journeys which remind us of God's presence and love in unexpected ways.

Hello Evan,

Thanks for your insight and for the links. This is great. Look forward to hearing more thoughts!

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I know it’s been a while, but I thought I’d weigh in and respond to your questions, Bryce.

I’d second all the films recommended in this thread so far (that I’ve seen) and also Overstreet’s book.

I think that defining these terms and categories is both really important and highly fluid in that people mean different things by terms such as spirituality, religion, and faith. I’m not sure what you had in mind but I’ll give it a shot. Forgive me for being a little abstract here, but I’m hesitant to use more conventional language. These are not philosophical ideas I came up with myself.I understand the world—and the human person—as an integration of aspects of meaningfulness created by God and through which God upholds all existence and is revealed and by which we and everything else have knowledge and function in every way we do. That whole integration can be oriented toward God or away from God (toward something in the creation—idolatry), likewise specific actions focused in particular aspects of life. That wholeness and integration is what I think is most important in our relationship with God. Films that are actively wrestling with this are what interest me most, as a Christian and as a person. This is what I consider to be spiritual or religious.

One of these universal “aspects” has to do with trust, with faith you might say, with that ultimate orientation of our personhood. And certain institutions and traditions (like churches and “religions”) have arisen to be authorities in this aspect of life to help orient us to God (or they fail to. And I don’t think that this is limited to Christianity. I believe other faiths do as well, although I do believe Christianity ultimately holds the true story of God and the world.) It’s inseparable from the other aspects, of course. And it’s also different from faith defined as belief in certain things being the case (like God’s existence). I think that kind of faith inherently decenters God and centers on the human will in idolatrous ways. And I find most faith based genre films to do that.

You might be interested to hear the perspective of writer/director Paul Schrader from this talk at the 2017 Toronto film festival. He has a thing or two to say about faith based films.

He talks about (and this is in part my take on Schrader) the HOW of film being more important as the WHAT regarding spirituality and the experience of the transcendent in film. And he finds that films that “lean away” from audiences through intentionally difficult and distance-producing techniques (including boredom) force the viewer to lean into the film’s world and find the mystery that is always there, usually just beneath the surface. This is basically what Overstreet said in this thread earlier. Other films (most all films, including faith based films) actively tell the viewer how to feel, how to think, how to believe. And in doing so any sense of mystery or spiritual depth focus gets lost or is actively ignored. The final response in the Q&A also gets at this. I am not as cynical as Schrader about religion itself, but I think what he says about religion in general does apply to faith based films.

C.S. Lewis talks about being willing to surrender yourself to the world of an artwork, and only after you’ve done that to be able to critique the work. I find that when I surrender myself to the world of faith based films, I find them to be utterly fraudulent depictions of reality—human, divine, and otherwise. Most of the films on the A&F Top 100, though, I find to draw me more deeply into reality, including the presence of the Spirit. Of course there are films on the list that I ultimately find to be at odds with my faith, but are such astute observers of human nature or articulate what is wrong so well, that I find them helpful nonetheless. Films whose vision of the world I find that I can submit myself to and emerge with my spirituality or my connection to God via the world strengthened are the kind of films I like. And these are more often the kinds of films that employ the distancing “transcendental style” Schrader describes. But not always.

I find several films that are fairly conventional but have religious themes to have strengthened my faith as well (Chariots of Fire, The Mission, Sophie Scholl, A Man for All Seasons, others on the Top 100). Might these be the faith themed films of which you speak? They aren’t "faith based" but they strongly engage (and affirm) issues of faith.

A film near the top of the Top 100 list that profoundly affected me and even impacted my faith positively, and did so by drawing me into its world (by formally receding from my expectations), is Ordet. It’s faith themed but also engages with that full integration of humanity I was talking about earlier.

But another film, actually the most recent film I’ve finished so it’s fresh with me, that has little to do with “religion” on the list is the Japanese film Eureka. It’s achingly slow but also achingly beautiful, and portrays the deep, deep ache of human brokenness. This film taught me something about being made in the image of God and the fact that that image can be and is hugely distorted, but is also capable of healing. Those are Christian truths, and this film spoke those truths in the language of film (rather than the language of “faith”). (By the way, I’ve seen most of the films on the Top 100 by now, and Eureka is one I’d recommend but not eagerly or to most casual film-watchers. It’s difficult on many levels.)

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It looks like the latest biblical movie being released for this Easter season is not the Mary Magdalene biopic (not in the US anyway)  but a new film on Paul --

http://www.paulmovie.com/site/

(I see Peter has a thread on this)

Probably too much violence for me to watch, but would like to hear how Paul and Luke are portrayed, how their mission is interpreted, etc

 

 

 

Edited by phlox

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On 3/2/2018 at 11:22 PM, Rob Z said:

I know it’s been a while, but I thought I’d weigh in and respond to your questions, Bryce.

I’d second all the films recommended in this thread so far (that I’ve seen) and also Overstreet’s book.

I think that defining these terms and categories is both really important and highly fluid in that people mean different things by terms such as spirituality, religion, and faith. I’m not sure what you had in mind but I’ll give it a shot. Forgive me for being a little abstract here, but I’m hesitant to use more conventional language. These are not philosophical ideas I came up with myself.I understand the world—and the human person—as an integration of aspects of meaningfulness created by God and through which God upholds all existence and is revealed and by which we and everything else have knowledge and function in every way we do. That whole integration can be oriented toward God or away from God (toward something in the creation—idolatry), likewise specific actions focused in particular aspects of life. That wholeness and integration is what I think is most important in our relationship with God. Films that are actively wrestling with this are what interest me most, as a Christian and as a person. This is what I consider to be spiritual or religious.

One of these universal “aspects” has to do with trust, with faith you might say, with that ultimate orientation of our personhood. And certain institutions and traditions (like churches and “religions”) have arisen to be authorities in this aspect of life to help orient us to God (or they fail to. And I don’t think that this is limited to Christianity. I believe other faiths do as well, although I do believe Christianity ultimately holds the true story of God and the world.) It’s inseparable from the other aspects, of course. And it’s also different from faith defined as belief in certain things being the case (like God’s existence). I think that kind of faith inherently decenters God and centers on the human will in idolatrous ways. And I find most faith based genre films to do that.

You might be interested to hear the perspective of writer/director Paul Schrader from this talk at the 2017 Toronto film festival. He has a thing or two to say about faith based films.

He talks about (and this is in part my take on Schrader) the HOW of film being more important as the WHAT regarding spirituality and the experience of the transcendent in film. And he finds that films that “lean away” from audiences through intentionally difficult and distance-producing techniques (including boredom) force the viewer to lean into the film’s world and find the mystery that is always there, usually just beneath the surface. This is basically what Overstreet said in this thread earlier. Other films (most all films, including faith based films) actively tell the viewer how to feel, how to think, how to believe. And in doing so any sense of mystery or spiritual depth focus gets lost or is actively ignored. The final response in the Q&A also gets at this. I am not as cynical as Schrader about religion itself, but I think what he says about religion in general does apply to faith based films.

C.S. Lewis talks about being willing to surrender yourself to the world of an artwork, and only after you’ve done that to be able to critique the work. I find that when I surrender myself to the world of faith based films, I find them to be utterly fraudulent depictions of reality—human, divine, and otherwise. Most of the films on the A&F Top 100, though, I find to draw me more deeply into reality, including the presence of the Spirit. Of course there are films on the list that I ultimately find to be at odds with my faith, but are such astute observers of human nature or articulate what is wrong so well, that I find them helpful nonetheless. Films whose vision of the world I find that I can submit myself to and emerge with my spirituality or my connection to God via the world strengthened are the kind of films I like. And these are more often the kinds of films that employ the distancing “transcendental style” Schrader describes. But not always.

I find several films that are fairly conventional but have religious themes to have strengthened my faith as well (Chariots of Fire, The Mission, Sophie Scholl, A Man for All Seasons, others on the Top 100). Might these be the faith themed films of which you speak? They aren’t "faith based" but they strongly engage (and affirm) issues of faith.

A film near the top of the Top 100 list that profoundly affected me and even impacted my faith positively, and did so by drawing me into its world (by formally receding from my expectations), is Ordet. It’s faith themed but also engages with that full integration of humanity I was talking about earlier.

But another film, actually the most recent film I’ve finished so it’s fresh with me, that has little to do with “religion” on the list is the Japanese film Eureka. It’s achingly slow but also achingly beautiful, and portrays the deep, deep ache of human brokenness. This film taught me something about being made in the image of God and the fact that that image can be and is hugely distorted, but is also capable of healing. Those are Christian truths, and this film spoke those truths in the language of film (rather than the language of “faith”). (By the way, I’ve seen most of the films on the Top 100 by now, and Eureka is one I’d recommend but not eagerly or to most casual film-watchers. It’s difficult on many levels.)

Rob,

 

Thank you for this. thank you for sharing. I truly appreciate your insight and thoughts. What you shared is important. Sometimes things can be fluffy and sugar coated (not in a good way) where the preaching can be too much and take you out of the story. I firmly believe that it is important to allow the audience to ask the question what would I do? Would I survive that? Would I do that? For me films and movie (there is a difference) are still about escaping the reality of the world and going on an adventure, watching someone overcome obstacles and challenges (personal or physical) and in the end we are left with hope. Hope for better days to come. Many of the films you mentioned reflect this. And they are timeless.

This is another aspect that is the art of making a film or movie. Making it timeless. The way to do this is by creating a relationship between the audience and the main character. Just like God has created us and each of us are in our own movie in someway being watched by those in Heaven above. Being witnesses to those around us here on Earth. God is the master of creating relationship. Isn't he?

So cinema and art depicts life... doesn't it?

Thanks again for your response.

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On 3/6/2018 at 5:32 AM, phlox said:

It looks like the latest biblical movie being released for this Easter season is not the Mary Magdalene biopic (not in the US anyway)  but a new film on Paul --

http://www.paulmovie.com/site/

(I see Peter has a thread on this)

Probably too much violence for me to watch, but would like to hear how Paul and Luke are portrayed, how their mission is interpreted, etc

 

 

 

Thank you for sharing this Phlox as you passed through here. I had no idea this film was made or was being made. Both of them anyway. I will be on the look out for them. God bless.

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Pure Flix and Chill

A documentary on David A.R. White, actor and founder of Pure Flix. I never knew the pastor from the God's Not Dead franchise was also the "Hey Scotty - Jesus, man!" guy. This was a good chaser to the last book I read, "Celluloid Sermons" by Terry Lindvall and Andrew Quicke.

 

Edited by winter shaker

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