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The Prophets of Sundance
In days of old, God used a burning bush to get Moses’ attention. Today’s prophets are often the truth-telling artists, singers, songwriters, and filmmakers whose modern version of “Thus sayeth the Lord” bursts forth in a stunning, sensual explosion of sight, sound, and touch.
They get our attention, and their prophetic word is visceral. It often goes beneath the rational radar and it can disturb more than it comforts. The annual Sundance Film Festival is like a tribe huddled around a campfire listening to the stories. These stories function like burning bushes, as prophetic calls to action. These films are meant not just to be watched, but to change us and, through us, to change the world.
Here are some of the messages I heard at Sundance 2014.
Sundance Diary: Imagining the World As It Ought To Be
PARK CITY, Utah — It’s been said that Hollywood films comfort the afflicted while Sundance films afflict the comfortable. Film offers a vicarious entry to the world the way it is, and the films I saw at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival left me longing for a different world — the world the way it ought to be.
It ought to be a world in which Muslims and Christians love, serve, protect, and forgive each other. Circles is based on a 1993 incident that took place in Trebinje, a small town in the Serbian region of east Herzegovina. Three Serb soldiers were brutally beating Alen Glavovic, a Muslim shopkeeper. When Srdjan Aleksic, a Christian Serb intervened to stop the soldiers, they turned their attention on him and beat him to death. The film explores the impact of this incident on the Muslim who survived the beating, Srdjan’s fiance and his father, on the children of the perpetrators, and on the whole village.
Why We’re Hungry for ‘The Hunger Games’
The Hunger Games books are wildly popular - and controversial. The American Library Association ranks it fifth on the list of most banned books for 2010, mostly because of parental complaints that the books are sexually explicit and violent.
Author Suzanne Collins said she conceived of The Hunger Games one night as she flipped television channels from teenagers on a reality TV to teenagers serving in the Iraqi war. She couldn't shake this jarring juxtaposition.
So does the popularity of The Hunger Games offer good news for those of us concerned about American civilization and the younger generation? I say yes, for a few reasons.