Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Contest: Blue Like Jazz

posted by Nell Minow

I am thrilled to give away a copy of one of my favorite films of the year, Blue Like Jazz.  Director Steve Taylor raised the money for the film $10 at a time on Kickstarter.  Fans of the inspirational book by Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, were eager to provide backing for a movie version of Miller’s story of his journey from a very strict fundamentalist upbringing to his studies at one of the most free-thinking schools in the world, Reed College in Portland, Oregon.


Taylor told me about adapting a book of essays on spirituality into a movie:

I read it six years ago over Christmas and it’s not the sort of book you put down and say, “I see this movie in my head!”  But it struck me as, this would make a great movie, particularly that part about that guy growing up as a suburban youth as a Southern Baptist, really conservative culture, and then ending up at Reed College.  It would be hard to imagine a more opposite place. So I showed up for a reading, and they had a line wrapped around the block, and afterwards I pitched him the idea and from the beginning, told him, “Look, I think this’ll make a great movie, but I would love to end it with the confessional scene which is a really powerful scene in the book.  The big change I’d like to propose is that in the book, he’s a thirty-year old writer who lives off campus and audits classes. I just think a more interesting movie story would be if you were a college student.” You know, usually authors understandably are very protective about their work and what they’ve written, and particularly if it’s memoir-ish, but he just immediately sparked to that.  I think he would tell you it’s because he’s seen too many books, memoirs in particular, turned into movies where they tried to stick exactly to the book and it made for a bad movie.  He recognized that it’s a different craft, and that the goal is to keep the truth but to make a compelling movie story.

The movie achieves that goal.  To enter the contest, send me an email at with “Blue” in the subject line and tell me a book you like about spirituality or inspiration.  Don’t forget your address!  (US addresses only.)  I’ll pick a winner on September 9.  Good luck!

  • Andrew C

    I’m glad to hear about this film, which had slipped by me. It’s a rare movie that dives into the grappling, grasping and wrestling that’s involved in the search for a truth, one that’s connected to a Knowing of god. I’m discovering movies from the ’50s that dealt with this openly, like Robert Bresson’s “Diary of a Country Priest.”

    • Nell Minow

      Beautifully said, Andrew C. I hope you let me know what you think of the film, which respects the struggle and those who are struggling in a way I found refreshing.

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