Here’s the latest dispatch from the crossroads of faith and media:

Riding Waves of praise. Set against the vibrant landscape of South Florida, Waves traces the epic emotional journey of a suburban African-American family confronted with a shocking event that threatens to tear the family apart. The movie which open wide this Thanksgiving weekend has been receiving extremely strong reviews, including from yours truly. Waves stars Sterling K. Brown, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Alexa Demie and Lucas Hedges. It is written and directed by Trey Edward Shults.

I had the opportunity to speak with writer-director Trey Edward Shults whose previous two films (the 2015 drama Krisha (2015) and the 2017 psychological thriller It Comes at Night) were also well received.

JWK: What compelled you – a young white guy from Texas – to write a story about an upper middle class African-American family in Florida? What did you draw on?

Trey Edward Shults: I formed a relationship with Kelvin making my last movie (It Comes at Night). I tailored a role for him. It was beautiful and collaborative working experience. Kelvin got script eight months before shooting and helped me hone realistic dialogue. I wanted to be authentic to the black experience but a lot of the themes are universal. It was an incredibly beautiful and collaborative experience with the entire cast. It gave me an opportunity to look outside myself – though a lot of the things these characters are going though (internally) are  universal.

JWK: There’s a scene early on in the film where the family is in church and the minister delivers a sermon about the apostle Paul’s famous reflection on love (“Love is patient. Love is kind…“) that sets up the theme for what comes afterward. He talked about how we live in a world where people with different perspectives than are own are often presented as villains but said there are few real villains in life – that, in reality, we all need to learn to love each other. Can you tell me about that?

TES: Yes. That was a real minister. The Love passage (from Paul) was written into script but ee went of riffing – but what he said was in line with theme of the story. I wanted to create a film about empathy, about how we need to understand each other and how a tragedy can happen. I hope (this movie) feels like an empathetic portrait of real human beings.

My parents are therapists.  That helped shape the person I’ve become and how I see things. These movies (I make) are in a way act of therapy.

JWK: What is this movie helping you to work out?

TES: It’s about Communication, or rather it’s a c cautionary tale about lack of communication and how we should all try to be open. Sterling K. Brown (plays) a good dad who lives too hard.  He makes mistakes with his son. How he tries to correct those mistakes with his daughter is a beautiful arc. He’s just a human being.

JWK: Can the lessons of this family be applied to politics and our nation?

TES: Yes! We need to be less judgmental. We live in a very polarizing, judgmental time. I believe that’s the spirit of this movie – to step away from that.    Very polarizing judging time. I believe that’s the spirit of the movie – to step away from that.

Coming Attraction. The biopic I Am Patrick: The Patron Saint of Ireland about the remarkable life of St. Patrick is set for a two-night-only release (Tuesday, March 17 and Wednesday, March 18) just in time for the holiday in his honor. From CBN Documentaries and Director Jarrod Anderson, the feature-length docudrama peels back centuries of legend and myth to tell the story of Saint Patrick using historical re-enactments, expert interviews and Patrick’s own writings to trace his journey to sainthood.
Finally, Thanksgiving words of wisdom from Bill Maher:

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

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