PLUG’s Top Five Spiritual Films

Black NarcissusBlack Narcissus

Though some have claimed that it is mildly critical of Catholicism, the beguiling mix of melodrama, noir thriller, and spirituality make this Technicolor epic a must-see.
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Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

This art house flick from 2010, and the only Thai film that has ever won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, explores Buddhism and native folklore from Northern Thailand.
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Don’t expect this movie to have any of the beautiful, Buddhist poetry of Boonmee; this is a violent and vicious movie.
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Sans Soleil

As the camera shows us scenes from the mundane aspects of life, the narration, combined with Marker’s keen eye for framing, allows these images to take on a somewhat mythic and spiritual quality.
Amazon DVD

Sister Act

Obviously, the number one religious movie of all time is Sister Act. I mean, come on, there’s even an appearance by a man pretending to be the Pope at the end!
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Film: Sister Helen (2002)

Film: Sister Helen (2002)In this compelling no-frills documentary, a 69-year-old Benedictine nun rules a private home for recovering male addicts in the South Bronx with strict curfews, tough language and a large heart. The Sundance Award-winning documentary captures in cinema verité style the no-nonsense day-to-day environment of Sister Helen’s half-way house, which provides a private room in a structured environment for addicts. Structure is perhaps an understatement. The men in Sister Helen’s residence must obey curfews, undergo frequent urine tests, participate in community service, seek employment and pay rent. Sister Helen became a Benedictine nun at the age of 56, and shortly afterward founded the John Thomas Travis Center to “do for other people’s sons what I couldn’t do for my own.”

The film at IMDB and the Hartley Film Foundation

Amazon instant video

The Narration of America in Literature and Film

Course at The University of Chicago Divinity School

This seminar examines, with specific attention to the genres of novel and film, the ways in which artistic form has given shape to ideas of “America.” Of particular interest will be the question of narrative as the source of mythic consciousness, and the hypothesis that, with the 20th century, film supersedes novel in this endeavor. We will study The Scarlet Letter, Moby-Dick, or The Whale, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly, and Little Women in comparison with D.W. Griffiths’ The Birth of a Nation, John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln.

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Terry Gilliam Riffs on Religion

The Zero TheoremQ: In the film [The Zero Theorem], the protagonist lives in this dilapidated church, making religion this backdrop that overshadows things to a degree. What were some of your intentions regarding the role religion plays in the modern state?
A: In this particular instance, I was just treating it as something that’s burnt out and doesn’t apply to most people anymore. In reality it does. Half of America seems to be very right wing Christian. Any form of fundamentalism makes me crazy, but American fundamentalism isn’t that much different from Islamic fundamentalism, it just uses bigger tools to kill, so it appears more civilized. But no, the church is about faith and the role of the Church did give meaning to people’s lives. It defined life for them and that’s what’s nice about religion; it’s very comforting. “Follow these rules and you’ll go to heaven,” is basically being fulfilled. And I think in the modern world especially, in a technological worshipping world like we live in, we keep thinking our iPhones are the answer, rather than religion.

Read the full interview at Bullett Media: Terry Gilliam Riffs on Corporations, Religion, and Hunter S. Thompson

The Zero Theorem at IMDB

The Zero Theorem instant video

The Holy Mountain (1973) (Bible Films Blog review)

The Holy Mountain (1973)Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain is, I suppose, a Jesus film of sorts. But it’s not hard to see it’s rarely discussed along with more conventional takes on the story. Jodorowsky’s dark surrealist vision is riddled with images that will tend to offend the kind of people who tend to watch Jesus films, and many others besides.

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The film at IMDB

Amazon DVD and instant video

The Blasphemer (1921)

The Blasphemer (1921)This rarely seen, silent religious feature was produced by the Catholic Art Association. After making it big on Wall Street, John Harden boasts that he is the master of his own fate and believes in neither God nor the Devil. Needless to say, he pays mightily for this hubris. His family is reduced to poverty, his friends desert him, and things turn from bad to worse until his childhood faith is restored.

The film at IMDB

Amazon DVD or Instant Video

Fundraiser: Church Girls… the hustle inside religion

Church girlsSEX trafficking in the Holy Place. Clergy Abuse – Silent Suffering

This project brings me great sadness but is one that must be shared from the inside; being a member of the clergy and media producer know this project will create a firestorm upon its release, first starting with the book based on a true story of a prominent female Philadelphia attorney, although very accomplished found herself entangled, abused and constantly threatened by an internationally renowned member of the clergy, who was living several secret lives as a married man, engaged to five other women and continued to lure younger and younger women into his circle. Despite certain officials having knowledge of his activities never sought to displace him, which caused more harm and supported his criminal activity.

Contribute to and read more about the campaign

The film’s website

IMAX film aims to find common ground among three religions in Jerusalem

JerusalemDaniel Ferguson, director, who was in Mobile Tuesday for the official opening of National Geographic’s “Jerusalem,” an IMAX film and accompanying exhibit at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, said he made 14 personal trips to Jerusalem from 2010-2013 for filming.

The focus of the 45-minute production aims to compare and contrast the lifestyles of three young women whose religious affiliations attempt to highlight the plurality of Jerusalem today: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

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Christian Films to Remember

Christmas with a Capital CAdam Graham at Caffeinated Thoughts compiled a list of “good examples of Christians making enjoyable and worthwhile films.” In the first of two posts he included Cross and the Switchblade (1970), Deadly Choice (1982)The Wait of the World (1985) and the Omega Code (1999). The second post had more recent movies: Late One Night (2001), Sherwood Pictures’ four films (Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous), The Second Chance (2006) and Christmas with a Capital C (2011).

In this film, irreligious businessman Mitch Bright (Adam Baldwin) returns to his small Alaska town and discovers his high school rival Dan Reed (Ted McGinley) is now the mayor. Mitch tries to drive a wedge between the mayor and his fellow citizens by suggesting the mayor’s religious Christmas displays are a barrier to business growth.

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Fundraiser: Contradiction: A Question of Faith

Contradiction: A Question of Faith confronts the paradox of church saturation in Black neighborhoods throughout the United States that far too often are coexisting in the midst of poverty and powerlessness. Why are there so many churches yet so many problems? This is a serious question that is addressed in a way that has never been done.

We started out making this film wondering if the contents were too controversial or too far ahead of its time. We knew that starting out in the bible belt, making a documentary questioning the impact of church and faith in the Black community would not only be challenging but risky. It’s frowned upon in the eyes of most Blacks to question the church, the bible, God or anything related to faith. Our story was unforgettable and wound up taking us around the country. We learned and experienced so much, but we need your help to keep the journey going.

Contribute to the campaign at Indiegogo