films

Abby Olcese 03-08-2016

Image via Missouri Division of Tourism/Flickr.

The True/False film festival in Columbia, Mo., likes to bill itself as “different.” And it is — the intimate weekend-long documentary fest has a well-earned reputation as a place where anything can happen: Here you’ll find award-winning directors hobnobbing with writers and college students over brunch, and accountants and lawyers who transform themselves, Cinderella-style, into flamboyantly dressed volunteers. But Columbia’s festival is unique in another way, one that’s more important than simple aesthetics: True/False also focuses on the unifying power of story.

Over its 13 years of existence, the festival has been committed to promoting the idea that introducing audiences to stories wildly different from their own expands our understanding of the human experience.

Gareth Higgins 02-03-2016
From The Assassin

From The Assassin 

AS THE Academy Awards approach, I’d like to mention some films worthy of recognition by the lights of a different set of criteria. As a member of the Arts and Faith Ecumenical Jury, I am delighted to present our list of films from 2015 that “challenge, expand, or explore” faith, including those that illuminate religion and spirituality, pointing to a more humane vision of the world.

The choices are much more diverse than the usual annual polls. Multifaith stories (Irish Catholic, Israeli Jew, Iranian Muslim, just to start), exposés of injustice and calls for restoration, exile, and return, the damage done by immature religion, and the possibility of human spiritual evolution—all are here. And the film we agree was the year’s best does something profoundly important: It tells the story of a weaponized individual who spends her time doing everything she can to avoid killing.

Some in our top 10 I’ve written about here before—our number nine is the fun and wise animated map of the emotions, Inside Out; eight is the immigrant tale Brooklyn; five is Brian Wilson mental illness and creativity biopic Love & Mercy; and four is the powerful investigative journalism drama Spotlight, a challenge to contemporary news media to once again pursue their higher calling to tell the truth for the common good. Here are the rest of our selections:

10. About Elly. Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi made this film in 2009, and it has been acclaimed as heralding “a new genre,” but it was not released in the U.S. until last year. Farhadi’s magnificent, compassionate dramas A Separation and The Past are more recent, but his ability to tell the most humane stories in the most gripping way was forged here.

Gareth Higgins 04-03-2014

James Patterson has pioneered something beautiful in the world of books and will be remembered for it.

Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in “Son of God.” Photo courtesy of Lightworkers Media / RNS

Christian leaders, including megachurch pastor Rick Warren, plan to rent every screen in numerous multiplex theaters across 10 cities for the premiere of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s upcoming Jesus film Son of God, on Feb. 27.

The unusual move reflects the confidence Christian leaders have in Burnett and Downey’s work in the wake of The Bible, a hit miniseries on the History channel.

The Son of God, an adaption from The Bible series, opens in theaters nationwide Feb. 28.

Gareth Higgins 01-05-2014

The 10 best U.S. films of 2013.

Gareth Higgins 12-12-2013

Fifty years ago, a kind of innocence was taken, and a kind of brokenness remains unrepaired.

Gareth Higgins 11-05-2013

About Time is funny, beguiling, and even profound.

Gareth Higgins 10-02-2013

The makers of The Butler have told a kind of truth about the struggle for "beloved community" that has rarely been seen so clearly on multiplex screens.

Kathryn Reklis 10-02-2013

Why are blockbuster movies so bad at imagining life after the end of the world?

Gareth Higgins 08-02-2013

When we experience movies like memories, we meditate rather than consume, and do what Pascal suggested was the antidote to all the problems in the world: sitting still for 10 minutes and thinking.

The Editors 07-10-2013

Preview Ronit Avni's inspiring films about nonviolence in the Holy Land.

Gareth Higgins 07-01-2013

If beauty heals the world, and the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better, who's up for demanding a better cinema experience?

Gareth Higgins 05-11-2013

From "God Loves Uganda"

The beginning of wisdom proposed in the best documentaries is simply this: telling the truth, to ourselves and others, as best as we can.

Gareth Higgins 03-14-2013

A scene from the video game Call of Duty.

There is an overwhelming need for publicly compelling conversation about violence, guns, and the role of entertainment media.

Gareth Higgins 11-27-2012

Seven Psychopaths

Three of the best films of the year: Samsara, Looper, and Seven Psychopaths.

Gary Eladiah Houser 08-15-2011

The earth dries up and withers ... The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant. - Isaiah 24:4-6

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! - Deuteronomy 30:19

During the 1980s, many Christians were at the forefront of a movement to avert nuclear annihilation. They saw this transcendent threat as a moral crisis and felt a responsibility to nonviolently resist, including acts of civil disobedience and divine obedience. Today, we face a comparable danger -- a climate catastrophe which could decimate life on earth. Yet it seems not to have been picked up on the Christian "radar screen" in the same way. For this reason, it is actually more insidious.

Julie Clawson 04-27-2011
Hollywood is generally fairly reluctant to produce films with strong feminist messages. It is far easier to sell women cast as the sexy sidekick or vapid damsel in distress.
Hannah Lythe 02-16-2011

The United States has already spent $3 trillion on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Jeannie Choi 08-06-2010

Anne Rice. Elena Kagan. Kanye West. Baseball. Here's a little round-up of links from the web you may have missed this week:

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