One of the movies causing the biggest buzz this week at the Sundance Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, just happens to be a movie about Jesus–and Mel Gibson has nothing to do with it. Made in Capetown, South Africa, “Son of Man” turns the life of Christ into an African fable and takes selected events from the Bible and places them into a fictional modern-day African country filled with poverty and strife. In this film, Christ is a black child growing up in a shanty, and his mother, Mary, argues with angels. Later on, some of Christ’s 12 disciples are women.
Director Mark Domford-May, in a recent interview with Reuters, explained his choices in portraying the life of Christ this way by saying, “We wanted to look at the gospels as if they were written by spin doctors and to strip that away and look at the truth.”
While some in the religious community might not completely appreciate Domford-May’s implication that the gospels were written by a bunch of propagandists selling the latest ideology, I am excited at the discussion this film seems to be sparking. One blogger reports that the person at Sundance who introduced the film said the movie made him realize he was a “closet Christian.” CNN has also been covering the reactions to this film and did a piece on why this movie is speaking to some people in a way that “The Passion of the Christ” didn’t. Hmm… maybe that is in part because, unlike “The Passion” or even “The Last Temptation of Christ,” these filmmakers are relative unknowns and are not carrying the personal and professional “baggage” that Mel Gibson or Martin Scorsese brought with them to their projects about Christ.
Regardless, I hope that many truth seekers, as well as indie film buffs, will give this film a chance and enter into the dialogue about the Christ narrative.