We got to see our first movies Friday. We often do not see the most popular movies because they are not about religion. But we do see many very good films and that is the reason that we cover the Sundance Film Festival. We give our readers access to good films related to religion that they might otherwise miss. Here are some of the best from Friday's screenings.
"God Loves Uganda" -- This disturbing documentary explores the activities of extremist American Christians who are encouraging Ugandans to fight sin by criminalizing homosexuality in Uganda. The movie raises questions about the role of the missionary in foreign countries and whether missionary work is a return to the colonialism that was so harmful to African nations in the past.
"Soldate Jeanette" ("Soldier Jane") -- Soldier Jane finds meaning in the sacrifice of everything material. We interpret the film as a post-modern retelling of the story of Joan of Arc.
"There Will Come a Day" -- A tragedy sets Augusta, a devout Catholic woman, off on journey of self-discovery in a place where she can finally face herself completely. We saw the film as an understated but honest look at a young woman's search for meaning. Insofar as religion is a search for meaning, this is the story of a woman on a religious journey.
"The Bible Quiz" -- This is a fascinating and humorous look at the combative world of Bible trivia competitions.
"After Tiller" -- This movie is a revealing look into the lives and practices of the four doctors who continue to perform third-trimester abortions after the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009. The movie explores both the perspective of the doctor and the perspective of the patient. All of this is in the context of a violent attack on abortion providers by extreme members of the pro-life community.
People often tell us how exciting it must be to shoot photos on the red carpet. We agree. It is exciting, but it is also hard work. We had to stand outside in below freezing weather for 50 minutes before we could enter the press tent. Once inside, we had to wait another 25 minutes for the talent to arrive. Once the talent enter the tent, the chaos begins. People shouting for the attention of the talent as they move down the red carpet.
Some people claim that there is almost as much music at Sundance as there is film. One film that combines the two is "Sound City." Directed by Dave Grohl, front man for Nirvana and Foo Fighters, this documentary looks at the famous recording studio, Sound City, that was home to many of our most famous musicians, including Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Neil Young and Rick Springfield.
Red carpet events all used to be held at the Eccles Theater. There was plenty of room for everyone and everything was indoors. Talent could take off their coats and hats in the entry way and then walk the red carpet in comfort. Now, red carpets are held at many venues and they are held in press tents. This means that talent wear whatever they have on when they come in from the cold and there is a lot of jostling in an effort to get a good shot. Many of the people who cover the red carpet events are professional photographers who work for such outlets as The New York Times, Rolling Stone or the Associated Press.
On Main Street, some stores or galleries turn themselves over to the Festival. The Sundance Channel Headquarters, for example, rents out an art gallery. The art is put in storage. The Sundance Channel puts in a bar, installs video screens that show trailers for upcoming Sundance programing, and hires a disc jockey for the pre-Festival party.
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Bill Blizek can be reached at email@example.com.