What Would Jesus Direct?

The Tribeca Film Festival sponsored a panel discussion last Tuesday in Manhattan called "What Would Jesus Direct?" The panelists discussed a growing trend in film of exploring questions of faith:
The religious product market is an $8 billion a year business so it’s no wonder that following the blockbuster success of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, Hollywood began to mine the Christian market with hopes that the faithful would follow. And they have. In a movement that mixes spirituality with economics studios are embracing a future of filmmaking that includes having a little faith in faith. Academy Award® winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire, As Good as It Gets) Grace Hill Media President Jonathan Bock, Walden Media President Michael Flaherty (Chronicles of Narnia, Because of Winn-Dixie) and producer Ralph Winter (X-Men, Fantastic Four) join us to discuss.
Yahoo! Movies reported on the event:
"On Sunday, 43 percent of America was in church," Jonathan Bock ... said. "For studios to not recognize that's an audience is like them saying, 'We're not marketing movies to men.'"

...Bock predicted religious movies would see a growth pattern similar to that of movies made by and about African-Americans. "There were these 'blaxploitation' films made for very small budgets, then (it went) through maybe you can make a buddy comedy, and (then you) get to the point where stories of African-Americans could be out there," Bock said.

"There have been movies made that were low budget, let's call them 'Godsploitation films.' If they make money, they'll try more," he said, noting that New Line Cinema was working on a film called "Nativity" about the birth of Jesus with "a pretty significant budget."

Bock said that even the upcoming "The Da Vinci Code," condemned by many Christians for undermining their religion by saying Jesus was married and had children, was a movie that would probably be seen by a lot of Christians who realize it is better to see it and argue back than to boycott it.

"What they've come to believe is if the whole world wants to talk about Jesus, then let's be ready to have that conversation," he said.
Our kids will need to engage their generation intelligently and imaginatively as questions of faith are presented by the great filmmakers of the future. What's the best way to equip them for this great opportunity? As always, we train our disciples in the art of good conversation as Jesus did near that well in Samaria so long ago -- by example.

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