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.
“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.