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Movie Mom

Christian Film-makers Find Their Audience

posted by Nell Minow

NPR has an excellent column by Barbara Bradley Hagerty about the increasing success of faith-inspired films. The San Antonio (Texas) Independent Christian Film Festival in January attracted more than 2000 audience members. And “Fireproof” has made more money than “Slumdog Millionaire,” produced for $500,000 and earning $33 million.

Instead of just complaining about sex and violence, [festival organizer Doug] Phillips says, Christians must make films that reflect their own values. He says he started the film festival five years ago when he realized that Christians were losing the hearts and minds of the young.

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“What is the single biggest influence on our families?” he asks. “I wish I could tell you the biggest single influence were churches, but that regretfully is not the case. The truth of the matter is, it is the media the people take in which are shaping and forming ideas.”

If Christians want to compete in the world of ideas, he says, they have to make great movies. This festival is putting up a $101,000 top prize — the largest in the United States, and larger than Cannes or Sundance — to help them get there. Phillips says this is only the beginning.

The winner of that award is a movie called “The Widow’s Might,” a timely story about a community support for a woman who lost her home to a foreclosure. It was written and directed by its star, 19-year-old John Robert Moore.
This is all enormously encouraging. I hope that the combination of spiritual and financial returns from producing films with messages of faith, hope, compassion, and integrity will inspire the production of more films for people of faith.

  • jestrfyl

    Someone might want to point this out to Disney. They decided to drop the distribution and production & marketing support for the next Narnia film, “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (which is my favorite book of the series). There is an audience for these films, it takes only the right sort of demographic research and appeal and it could be a significant moneymaker (after all, the middle letter in Disney is “$”, with a nod to Scrooge McDuck).

  • lt

    I think it’s just really important that it be made WELL, not just have a positive theme. I was waiting with my daughter at the doctors office the other day, and “Facing the Giants” was playing. The acting and writing were abolutely horrible and the storyline was completely ridiculous – it would have been funny except that it was supposed to be serious.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    You are absolutely right, It, and the same point was made by actress/writer/comedian Kerri Pomarolli in an interview I’ll be posting in a few days. The same applies to movies for kids — sometimes people object to a bad review of a movie that has no objectionable material. But childhood is too short to waste precious time on movies that are “acceptable” because of an absence of awful instead of excellent, filled with imagination, sincerity, and heart.

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