In past years when films with religious themes have popped up at the Sundance independent film festival, they’ve tended to be satires or exposés liked Saved! or Jesus Camp. This year, however, religion, spirituality, and faith have moved more into the mainstream, with 12 of the festival's120 films spotlighting stories about religion or characters defined by faith.
“There are definitely more films [exploring spirituality] that ended up in the program this year than in years past,” John Nein, senior programmer for the annual Park City, Utah festival, told Piet Levy of Religion News Service.
Salvation Boulevard features Pierce Brosnan as a popular preacher who frames a born-again Christian follower for a crime, while the documentary The Redemption of General Butt Naked deals with a Liberian warlord-turned-preacher facing the loved ones of people he killed. The Italian film Lost Kisses focuses on a Sicilian community’s reaction to a 13-year-old girl who may be performing miracles. Two films explore Christianity and Islam: Kinyarwanda, set during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the documentary Position Among the Stars about the lives of an impoverished family living in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Japan’s Abraxas chronicles the life of a depressed Zen monk who reconnects with punk rock, while the American comedy The Catechism Cataclysm centers on a priest who loves heavy metal music. Three other American films—Martha Marcy May Marlene; Kevin Smith’s horror film Red State; and Vera Farmiga’s Higher Ground—are concerned with cults and fringe religious sects.
The trailer for Position Among the Stars: